Preview: Bradshaw Mountain football hopes to build on successes of 2018 campaign
Is Bradshaw Mountain’s football team ready for an encore in 2019?
Last season, the Bears rattled off seven straight wins, one victory short of the program record, before losing three of their last four to finish with an 8-3 record.
They succumbed to Grand Canyon region foe and county rival Mingus, 21-17, Nov. 2 at home in the first round of the 4A state playoffs, bringing a successful season to an abrupt end.
However, Bradshaw Mountain will have a much different squad when it takes the field for its 2019 opener versus Estrella Foothills at 7 p.m., Aug. 23, at Bob Pavlich Field in Prescott Valley.
The Bears graduated 11 starters on offense and nine starters on defense, as well as four specialists, in the offseason. The losses don’t seem to be fazing them, though.
“I don’t think anything changes,” third-year Bears coach Chuck Moller said. “We’ve got to come out fast and we’ve got to keep gaining momentum. Our goals will never change, week in and week out. There’s nobody on our schedule we can’t beat, and there’s nobody on our schedule that can’t beat us.
“It’s just how fast we mature and, with the youth of this team, how fast they can get up to the speed of the game.”
This fall, Bradshaw Mountain’s leaning on junior quarterback Josh Grant (6 feet, 175 pounds), a three-sport athlete who saw time in six games, completing 19 of 46 passes for 204 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.
“His accuracy is obviously getting better [than last season],” Moller said. “Like any quarterback, the proof’s in the pudding. We’ve got to see how the first games go. We’ve got to see how the supporting cast complements what he’s doing. We think we’re better at receiver, but they’re all new guys, so we’ve got to find out.”
Grant should also do the kickoffs, field goals and punt, too. He said he’s matured as a quarterback since last fall.
“I’ve improved a lot more with not scrambling and being able to trust my line a lot more and being able to get the ball where it needs to be,” Grant added.
Moller added that senior wideout Alex Cabral, one of Grant’s favorite targets, and senior linebacker/safety Noah Shaver will lead the team with Grant.
Shaver’s an all-state linebacker and long snapper who led Bradshaw Mountain with 115 tackles last season. He tallied 14-1/2 tackles for loss, eight sacks, an interception, two pass deflections, a caused fumble and a fumble recovery.
“Everyone’s showing effort, even if we’re a young team,” Shaver said. “Everyone’s going out there trying their best and trying to keep moving forward. That’s the only thing we can hope for. We have a lot of people gone, and the experience is not there, so we’re just trying to make it up with our mindset and determination.”
The Bears have plenty of sophomore talent, which should bode well for them in the future. Moller said he may start as many as six sophomores on offense and at least a half dozen on defense.
“I’m not afraid to [start the sophomores], because they actually are beating out seniors and juniors,” Moller added.
Top newcomers include sophomore offensive/defensive linemen Peyton Hines (6-1, 230) and Michael Kelley (6-1, 225). Junior wideout/cornerback Blake Huenemeyer has shown significant strides, too, Moller said.
Offensively, Moller said he wants to remain balanced between the run and the pass while taking advantage of what defenses give the Bears. Sophomore running back Elijah Acuna, senior wideout Ismael Solano (doubles at safety), and senior running backs Titus King and Cale Cook are also ones to watch.
Other standout o-linemen include seniors Eladio Rodriguez (5-10, 220) and Manny Salcido (5-10, 215), sophomore George Scriven (6-4, 215) and junior Blake Pommerening (6-0, 255). Senior Daniel Gobiel (6-0, 190) lines up at tight end.
“It really doesn’t matter how we score,” Moller added. “If you’re going to load up the box and take away the run, we have no problem throwing. We have trust in our line to protect. We have trust in our quarterbacks and receivers.
“If you’re going to give us a light box and take away the pass, we have no problem running every down. We do two-play huddle so much that it doesn’t really matter.”
On defense, like last fall, the Bears plan to continue to apply pressure up front, primarily in a zone package. Anchoring the d-line is junior star Mason Stultz (6-2, 195).
Bradshaw Mountain has exactly the same schedule as last season. Only the venues are reversed. The Bears open with four non-region games before playing host to Lee Williams at 7 p.m., Sept. 20, in their Grand Canyon opener.
Moller thinks three or four teams will vie for the region crown.
“I’d like to say we’re going to be in there – Prescott will be in there,” Moller said. “Flag, Coco, Mingus – any one of those can show up, knock us off. Whoever gets that momentum the earliest is going to be there at the end. But it’s going to be a dogfight. There’s no givens.”
Doug Cook is a reporter for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter at @dougout_dc. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2039.
2019 Bradshaw Mountain Football
Region: Grand Canyon
2018 Record: 8-3 (4-2 Grand Canyon)
2018 Playoffs: Lost to Mingus 21-17 in the first round of 4A State Football Championships.
Coach: Chuck Moller (3rd season)
2019 Players to Watch: Jr. QB Josh Grant; Sr. RB Trevor Gianfrancesco; OL/DL Jr. Rudy Melendez; Jr. WR/DB Dante DeBono; Soph. TE Dakota Mcmains; Sr. WR J.R. Willingham
Date Opponent Time
8/23 Estrella Foothills 7 p.m.
8/30 Shadow Mountain 7 p.m.
9/6 at Youngker 7 p.m.
9/13 at Greenway 7 p.m.
9/20 Lee Williams* 7 p.m.
9/27 Coconino* 7 p.m.
10/4 at Flagstaff* 7:30 p.m.
10/11 at Prescott* 7 p.m.
10/18 Mingus* 7 p.m.
10/25 at Mohave* 7 p.m.
11/1 Bye Week N/A
11/8 State: 1st Round TBA
11/15 State: Quarterfinals TBA
11/22 State: Semifinals TBA
11/29 State: Championship TBA
- Grand Canyon Region Game