GOODYEAR — Before Friday’s Week 1 game, Bradshaw Mountain football coach Chuck Moller described opponent Estrella Foothills as “very much a mirror image” of his 2018 Bears.
Moller’s assessment seemed true enough through two quarters of the 4A clash. After that, however, not so much.
Bears quarterback Austin Gonzales, shaken up on a hard tackle in the first half, bounced back nicely, throwing for 113 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, and rushing for 132 yards, to pace visiting Bradshaw Mountain to a 20-13 victory.
It was the first season-opening win for the Bears in five years (2013).
Anthony Mata unofficially finished the contest with four carries for 94 yards, including a 68-yard touchdown run. Wideout Alex Cyr hauled in two catches for 55 yards and a TD. Ruben Gonzalez had three grabs for 43 yards, including a 34-yard TD reception.
Leading 12-7 at halftime, Bradshaw Mountain scored on its first possession of the third quarter. Gonzales found Cyr on a 21-yard TD pass on fourth down and Gonzales hit Austin Yarbrough on a 2-point conversion pass for a 20-7 advantage. That score was all the Bears would need, as Bradshaw Mountain’s defense played solidly in the second half. Linebacker Manny Salcido recovered a fumble to give the Bears some momentum.
Estrella did reach pay dirt inside of 7 minutes left in the fourth on a 21-yard TD run by quarterback Mason Skrimager, but it wasn’t quite enough on this night. Skrimager completed 9 of 31 passes for 172 yards with a TD and an interception. He also rushed for 115 yards and a TD.
The first half was a bit sloppy for both teams, particularly with penalties.
Trailing 7-6 at the end of the first quarter, the Bears took their first lead, 12-6, on Mata’s long TD run with 10:12 remaining in the second quarter. The extra point failed.
The Wolves grabbed their early 7-0 edge on a 63-yard TD catch by Daylen Batchan from Mason Skrimager with 2:06 left in the first quarter.
Bradshaw Mountain struck back on its next possession, though, thanks to a 34-yard TD pass from Austin Gonzales to Ruben Gonzalez. But the extra point failed with 40 seconds left in the first and the Bears still trailed, 7-6.
The Bears punted four times in the first half and Estrella Foothills dominated the time of possession, although Bradshaw Mountain managed to hang onto their five-point advantage at intermission.
Wolves senior quarterback Regan Jenkins did not start on Friday, giving way to the senior Skrimager. Estrella Foothills punted on its first two possessions before Batchan put the Wolves on the board.
Defensively for the Bears, Elijah Knisely corralled an interception in the second quarter, which helped keep the Wolves in check. Connor Scott added a sack late in the third period.
Bradshaw Mountain (1-0 overall record) concludes its two-game road trip to start the 2018 season when the squad visits Shadow Mountain at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 24 in Phoenix. Estrella Foothills (0-1) visits Greenway (0-0) at 7 p.m. Aug. 24, also in Phoenix.