Basic High won’t be confused with a football power.
In fact, it took this year’s quarterback a while to be convinced that the Wolves would be any good.
But Basic, which hasn’t won a state football title since 1960, finds itself in an unusual position today: playing in the state semifinals.
The Wolves (11-1) play at Del Sol (11-1) in the Sunrise Region title game at 1 p.m. The winner advances to the Class 4A state championship game on Dec. 5 at Sam Boyd Stadium.
“I’m not going to lie. At the beginning of the year, at camp, I didn’t think we were going to be too good,” Basic senior quarterback Tyler Dobbins said. “But after our first couple games, I felt we were going to be tough.”
Basic has been tough all year. Its only loss came Oct. 2 to Del Sol, 21-19. Since then, the Wolves have won seven straight.
“Basic’s always a scrappy group,” Del Sol coach Preston Goroff said. “Now with that scrappiness, they’ve brought in some talent at some of the skill positions. They’ve emerged as a really good football team.”
Basic might be good, but the Wolves certainly aren’t flashy. Leading rusher Edward Villaros just topped the 500-yard mark in the 12th game of the season. Basic has used 19 rushers this season (including 11 in the Sunrise semifinals), and 18 players have caught a pass.
“They don’t have the big-play offense, but they do just enough to keep you honest with coverages,” Goroff said. “They’re very well balanced. They move the chains and make the most of their opportunities.”
Basic’s lack of star power has turned into a strength, according to Dobbins, who has rushed for 11 touchdowns and passed for 1,402 yards and 10 TDs.
“Last year, the big thing was three people touched the ball,” Dobbins said. “This year, we’re more well-rounded. Everybody can catch, everybody can run, everybody can do everything on offense. They scout one person, and the next week somebody else dominates.”
Defense has been a key for the Wolves, who have allowed an average of 12.8 points per game this season. Basic has allowed 10 or fewer in five games.
“Our defense has been extraordinary,” said Wolves coach Jeff Cahill, who was a sophomore at Basic the last time the team advanced to the state semifinals, in 1989. “It’s a huge reason that we’re at where we’re at right now. I think they’re ready for the challenge.”
That challenge will be slowing Del Sol’s two stars. Unlike Basic, the Dragons have leaned heavily on running back Dezerick Reed (1,885 rushing yards, 21 TDs) and receiver Evan Weinstock (36 catches, 776 yards, 18 total TDs).
“We already know what they’re going to do,” Basic senior defensive end Marty Christensen said. “They have Weinstock and Dezerick Reed, and if we shut those two down, we should be fine.”