Brophy football emphasizing love, brotherhood in post-game ritual

Brotherhood. Family. Love.

Those are a few words that Brophy College Prep head football coach Jon Kitna uses when talking to the Broncos post-game. A few qualities of Bronco football, Kitna said, that make his team dangerous.

Brophy’s post-game gatherings on the field aren’t like most you may see across high school football.

It’s not just Coach Kitna telling his guys what he liked most, what could’ve been better, then giving a couple announcements and sending the players to the locker room.

What it is, is a team lifting each other up, no matter win or lose, to highlight the positives from what went down on the gridiron minutes before.

Full Bronco post-game meeting, Sept. 14, 2018. Brophy defeated Mesa Mountain View, 24-7 to improve to 4-1 on the season.

Kitna believes that being able to show love to your teammates is what makes “good teams great and great teams elite,” he said.

“(It’s) understanding the true meaning of love, which is: What will I give up for the betterment of somebody else?” Kitna said. “Football is the ultimate game of that. It’s all about sacrifice across the board. The deeper that we have a love for each other, what we have is a chance to maximize our potential.”

The former NFL quarterback got the idea for the post-game meetings while he was playing college football at Central Washington University. CWU played Pacific Lutheran University, which is where Kitna first saw the tradition.

When Kitna got more connected to his faith, he understood the importance of affirmation and the spoken word and decided to adopt the ritual as a coach himself, he said.

“I remember the first game I broke it out,” Kitna said. “I thought the kids would think it’s corny, (but) they just loved it. They loved it at the first school I was at that was in the dead heart of the inner-city, and they loved it at the second school I was at that was out in the country and they love it here at Brophy, right in the heart of Phoenix.”

The Broncos have seen how loving each other and coming together as one can benefit their performance on the field this season.

“When a team comes together, it doesn’t matter how good or bad you are,” senior nose guard EJ Hamilton said. “Once you get that team bond going, nothing can stop you.”

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Gallery by Brophy’s Jaime Hidalgo.

The goal for the Broncos’ coaching staff is not to just develop players into great athletes who can reaffirm each other, but also as great men, who in the next stages of their lives, will be able to affirm their wives, kids and co-workers as well.

The kind of man who is able to do that, is being developed in the Brophy football program under Coach Kitna.

“At the end of the day, my wife will say it best, we’re all little boys, trapped in big boy bodies,” Kitna said. “Every little boy wants to hear, ‘Man, you’re awesome.’ When little boys hear that they run faster, they jump higher, they’ll do anything and that’s really what we’re trying to do.”

The Broncos are 4-1 in 2018, their only loss coming to Liberty in Week 0. 

Kitna said the Broncos have not had a full team yet in 2018 and that doesn’t have to do with just injuries, players have been out with sickness throughout the year already as well.

Despite the health of the team being questionable each week, the Broncos have impressed their head coach in his first season.

“I love this football team,” Kitna said. “They continue to show up every day ready to work and we just feel like that gives you a chance to maximize your potential. Whatever that is, we’ll find out what that is as we keep going through the season.”