Coach Molander
Arizona Big School Coach of the Year - 2005

December 18, 2005
Final Chaser

Don Ketchum, The Arizona Republic

Brophy's Andrew "Scooter" Molander is among thousands of high school football coaches across the country who have one thing on their mind.

"In your quiet moments, you think about what it would be like to win a state championship, and then you try to put that feeling in your kids' heads," he said.

From Molander's quiet moments evolved many loud moments -- shouts of joy.

He and his team had done it. They had won Arizona's Class 5A Division I championship.

The Broncos did it in the most unlikely of ways -- a 99-yard drive against one of the state's top defenses, scoring what proved to be the winning touchdown with 34 seconds left -- and dethroned two-time defending champion Chandler Hamilton 15-14.

Molander, in his first season, is The Republic's Big School Coach of the Year.

"It was an amazing season," he said. "We were faced with a lot of challenges, but everyone continued to stick together.

"I watched tape of the game the other night, and it all seems so surreal."

Coaching in itself never is easy, but when you are in your first season, there is an adjustment process to the assistants and players, and vice versa. Molander, a former star quarterback at Tempe Corona del Sol, Phoenix College and Colorado State, relied on his assistants.

"Four of them are former head coaches," he said.

It made him think of something his grandmother once told him.

"She said that you're not learning when you're talking, so I tried to listen," he said. "I wanted to make it an environment where everybody's opinion is valued. If you continue to exchange ideas, the clear decision will become obvious."

Molander also used some ideas from former Brophy coach Jeff Kearin, for whom Molander was an assistant.

"He taught me a lot about having an organized practice," Molander said. "Rarely do you see the kids just standing around. By the end of the day, the coaches and kids left their egos at the door and trusted one another."

At no time was that more important than during the final drive. Molander said one of the key plays was the first play, when quarterback Bryan Berens kept the ball and gained 4 yards from the Brophy 1.

"That gave us breathing room," Molander said.

Berens, a sophomore who took over as the starter at midseason, was cool under pressure, completing the drive with a 7-yard slant pass to Matt Smith in the end zone.

"Bryan was willing to throw it away if needed," Molander said. "We are in our two-minute mode all the time and had talked about a situation like this. The kids believed it would happen. You get in a rhythm on the field, and a coach gets in a rhythm calling plays."