Prescott High senior tailback Brady Mengarelli has never been physically imposing on the football field, but one would be a fool to underestimate his intense competitive spirit.
In 2012, the determined 5-foot-11, 180-pound Mengarelli smashed the Badgers' regular-season rushing record - one that had stood for 25 years - after running for 1,874 yards and 22 touchdowns in a simplified multiple personnel offense.
The speedy, shifty and powerful Mengarelli was a huge reason why PHS snapped a three-year postseason drought, and for his efforts he has garnered All-Courier high school football Player of the Year honors.
"There's very few things you can control, but one thing I could control is how big and how strong I got," Mengarelli said this past week from the PHS Dome. "You can't control how fast you are, and I got pretty lucky. I worked really hard to be as big as I could."
This past off-season, Mengarelli hit the weight room and bulked up, gaining 15 pounds to boost his strength and quickness. But he said that was only part of the reason for his success in guiding PHS to a 7-4 record and a trip to the Division II state playoffs - his first in a Badgers uniform.
"The main thing was we had a great coach (Cody Collett) and some great linemen this year, honestly," Mengarelli said. "The system was better, the blocking schemes were all better, and it helped us win."
Mengarelli obliterated former Prescott quarterback Guy Grover's school record of 1,383 single-season rushing yards set in 1987. He also scored three more rushing touchdowns in a season than former Badger running back Brian Scates, who reached pay dirt 18 times in 2009.
Three times in four weeks in late September, Mengarelli snapped the single-game school rushing record behind an offensive line that grasped its blocking schemes.
In the season opener Aug. 24 at rival Bradshaw Mountain, Mengarelli foreshadowed what would become of his campaign. He rushed for a record 269 yards on 17 carries and three TDs in a 40-0 victory.
Aug. 31 at Bill Shepard Field, Mengarelli one-upped himself, sprinting for 316 yards on 19 carries and four TDs in a 56-28 win over Glendale Deer Valley.
In weeks four and five, the magic continued, as Mengarelli established two more new marks. Sept. 14, he ran for 335 yards on 25 carries and five touchdowns in a 52-7 defeat of Phoenix Moon Valley.
His high point did not come until Sept. 21, however, as he rushed 30 times for a new school record of 419 yards and five TDs.
It was quite a feat for a guy who did not play football until the eighth grade at Mile High Middle School because his father thought he was too small and would get injured.
"Brady's awesome, and the offensive line worked really hard, and they were obviously extremely well-coached as well," PHS junior fullback Sterling Johnson said. "To have a running game like that helps the defense, too - taking time off the game clock."
Prescott coach Cody Collett said Mengarelli fit perfectly into his system.
"We ran a fair amount of read plays with a power-blocking scheme, and he probably ran that particular play better than anybody I've coached," the coach said. "He would wait until the last possible second - 'OK, this guy committed here, now boom.' That's a hard read, and he was doing it well the first time we did it."
Collett added that Mengarelli followed through with accomplishing the team's rushing goal.
"If you look back at any of the other teams I've coached on offense, we've always liked to run the ball," the coach said. "Ideally, we're running the ball and we're hitting play-actions."
Although Mengarelli did not rush for more than 200 yards in any one of Prescott's last five games, his inspiring play was a gift to PHS.
Collett said the respectful Mengarelli brought tremendous leadership and work ethic to the 2012 Badgers.
Mengarelli said he wants to play college football in 2013, but he's going to wait until late next spring, after playing varsity baseball for Prescott, before committing to a school.
Collett added that he hopes college football recruiters, such as those at the NCAA Division I-AA (Football Championship Subdivision) level, will take a look at Mengarelli because he can run, catch, return kicks and even tackle.
Mengarelli could have played defense this season, but Collett used him so much as a tailback that he wanted him to stay fresh.
"It makes your job as the head coach a lot easier when one of your most athletic, best players on the field buys into what you're doing and is trying to get everybody on that same page," Collett said. "Brady did that for us."