By Ian C. Beck ’12
Tyler Bruggman ’13 began his tenure as the Brophy starting quarterback by throwing for 317 yards in a season opening win last season against Deer Valley, the third-most single game passing yards in team history.
As a sophomore.
Bruggman led his freshman team to a perfect 9-0 record in 2009 and helped the Bronco offense rack up 48 points in the first two games of the 2010 season.
Out with a bang
It is Oct. 14, 2010.
The Brophy Broncos football team is participating in a walk-through in preparation for their upcoming game against Mesa.
The Broncos are running a drill that calls for the quarterback slide to take time off the clock.
Bruggman takes the handoff, drops back then rolls out to the left, eyes downfield. Spotting an approaching linebacker, he drops into a slide. As he falls, this particular drill takes a painful and unexpected turn for the worse.
“I was just rolling left and I fell down and as I slid my cleat got stuck in the ground,” Bruggman said.
Lineman Justin Bessant ’12 said he remembers watching Bruggman fall.
“It looked like a normal quarterback slide but when he didn’t get up we were like ‘oh boy,’” Bessant said. “There was about a five minute period where nobody knew what to do, nobody talked for about five minutes. It was pretty bad, it was like shock.”
Wide receiver Freddy Gammage ’12 said that at first he thought Bruggman was merely joking until he heard the quarterback screaming and realized the injury was serious.
“I was like ‘uh-oh, what are we going to do now, we don’t have any other quarterbacks,’” Gammage said. “Basically, I was just really scared and nervous.”
Bruggman broke his left ankle and would have season-ending surgery the following week.
The long road back
The Broncos would play another six games, employing a two-man rotation of junior varsity starter Greg Wirth ’13 and Gammage at quarterback.
Bruggman said that it was hard to be down but enjoyed being able to watch his team play.
“It was tough obviously,” he said. “I wanted to be out there playing but in one sense it was good that it was still football season because, recovering from an injury, it’s always nice to be able to watch your teammates, to just be there with them and support them on Friday nights.”
His leg encapsulated in a red cast, Bruggman would spend time on a scooter, then crutches, then a medical boot.
He would work on a variety of activities and stretches over the ensuing months to regain strength and flexibility in his ankle.
Bruggman was cleared by his doctors to participate in spring practice, testing what the ankle could handle and what it could not.
“There was no official date, I was just able to do whatever I could,” Bruggman said.
Returning to the gridiron
It is Tuesday, Aug. 23, three days until the Broncos open their 2011 season against Mountain Ridge.
The cast is gone, so too are the crutches and braces. Bruggman has returned to the Brophy practice field after playing in the AIA Fiesta Bowl Passing League and other such tournaments over the course of the spring and summer.
Throughout practice, Bruggman is the first back onto the field after water breaks and is the last to return to the huddle after a drill, waiting to bump knuckles with his wide receiver after each catch.
Bruggman said it was relieving to finally take the field and start preparing for the season.
Last year Bruggman had the opportunity to learn from senior leaders like running back Josh Dennard ’11, wide receiver Jordan Graves ’11 and offensive linemen Kyle Veldman ’11.
“They all just kind of took me under their wing and I knew they had faith and trust in me that I’d be able to get my job done and I had trust in them that they’d be able to get their job done, so it was a nice balance between the two,” Bruggman said of last year’s seniors.
Bessant pointed to Bruggman’s attention to detail as a defining quality of his leadership.
“He’s a great teammate, a great leader, a great quarterback, he’s just an all-around nice guy, a great football player,” Bessant said. “He always does the little things right and he holds other people accountable.”
Gammage, too, lauded Bruggman’s talents as a quarterback.
“He always puts the ball where it needs to be,” Gammage said. “He’s always someone you can trust … he knows what everybody needs to do on every play so if I don’t remember what I need to do on a play I can just ask him.”
Gammage’s commendation of Bruggman extended past the skill of his right arm to his ability to command the team.
“He’s always positive, always saying the right thing,” Gammage said. “Just a positive guy, never anything negative.”
Back in action
In the first game of the season, Aug. 26, Brophy beat Mountain Ridge by a score of 32-0. Bruggman completed 15 of 25 passes for 235 yards and three touchdowns.
He never threw more than two incompletions in a row and he led the team on five scoring drives before he was lifted in the fourth quarter.
The quarterback called the first game a great one but noted there was still room for improvement.
Even so, his ankle felt good and he said he was happy to be back out onto the field again.