Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014 | 2 a.m.
Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer transition into playoff mode and go over all of Friday's matchups.
Canyon Springs High quarterback Bradley Alexander II turned on his phone during the bus ride back to campus. He was already flooded with congratulatory text messages.
Minutes earlier, Alexander led the Pioneers to one of the biggest upsets of the high school football season, blanking Liberty 15-0 last month for one of the most important wins in Canyon Springs’ 11-year history.
Liberty, the four-time defending Sunrise champions, had a 40-game winning streak against Sunrise opponents. That included knocking Canyon Springs out of the playoffs the past two seasons by a combined 13 points.
He quickly checked his social media accounts, seeing the reaction from former Canyon Springs players and slowly starting to realize what was accomplished.
“It felt like we tore down the Walls of Jericho,” Alexander said. “We can say we are the team that did it. We were the team to beat Liberty.”
Not only has Alexander, a three-year varsity player, developed into one of Canyon Springs’ top players. He’s become of the city’s best, earning the Sun’s Player of the Week honors after passing for three touchdowns and rushing for another last week against Silverado.
Canyon Springs enters this week’s playoffs as the No. 1 seed, winning the Northeast League title partially because of Alexander’s contributions in the passing game. Previously, Canyon Springs was so reliant on the running the ball to have success, defenders stayed near the line of scrimmage to defend the run with little threat of long passes.
“I have been wanting to air this football out,” Canyon Springs coach Hunkie Cooper said. “I had a plan three years ago to groom this kid as our quarterback. We’ve asked a lot of him, but he’s been able to come in and grow.”
The 5-foot-11, 185 pound Alexander has completed 88 of 156 passes for 1,390 yards and 17 touchdowns. He’s also embraced the challenge of playing both ways, registering 26 tackles and one interception in developing into a formidable defensive back.
When Canyon Springs had some holes to fill in its defensive lineup, Cooper decided to get his best players on the field — even if it meant players such as Alexander having to double-up.
It turned out to be the best thing for Alexander’s growth at quarterback. By learning the ins and outs of the defensive back position, he become a smarter offense because he knew how defenses game-planned to stop certain plays or formations.
“When you play both sides, you start thinking in two different ways. The game gets a lot easier,” Alexander said. “I know what (the other team) is going to do before you do it.”
Alexander’s story is far from finished. He knows another game with Liberty could be on the horizon, giving him one more chance to show he’s one of the city’s elite. And, more important, show Canyon Springs is the best team in the Sunrise.
“It’s being mature and growing into the player I thought I could be,” he said. “I have confidence going out there every week.”