After three straight years of coming up short in the playoffs, some would say that Liberty quarterback Navi Bruzon was under the gun to take the Lions to the promised land.
He felt otherwise.
“Going into this year, I wouldn’t say it put a big pressure on me, but I did feel it towards the middle of the year,” Bruzon said. “I just had to re-lock in, refocus, just reengage myself with what was important.”
The four-year varsity player and now leader of the team did just that, tallying another impressive year on route to another successful season for Liberty.
He helped lead the Lions to a 12-1 record that ended in an Arizona Open State Championship win over Centennial High School all while tallying 3,287 passing yards and 972 rushing yards with a total of 52 touchdowns.
These successes netted Bruzon a slew of recognitions in the wake of achieving his goal.
He was named the Ed Doherty Award winner for the 2023-24 season — commonly referred to as the Heisman Trophy for Arizona Football — the MaxPreps Arizona High School Player of the Year, the AIA Conference Player of the Year and his second straight Gatorade Player of the Year for Arizona.
Through all the awards, though, Bruzon’s main achievement in his eyes was finally taking home a championship.
“It was nice winning them, but it doesn’t mean anything at the end of the day,” he said. “I just had to re-lock in and just continue doing my job at a high level. And I did that at the end of the year.
“Obviously, I’m blessed and fortunate for the opportunity to be named (the best player in the state) and most thankful to be playing for Liberty,” Bruzon said.
Bruzon’s state championship was years in the making, as he played for Liberty’s feeder program in seventh and eighth grade before joining the Lions, and he said it was a great feeling to help lead the program to a state championship in the toughest division in Arizona high school football.
“To finally get to the peak of the mountain with my brothers around me was definitely a great feeling, and it was something I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Bruzon said.
Liberty head coach Colin Thomas knows Bruzon’s leadership ability and talent on the football field is second to none.
“He’s one of a kind. He has an elite-level understanding of football. He has a playmaking ability that is very, very special. He’s just a leader of men that captivated our whole team,” Thomas said.
Bruzon is well aware of his shortcomings but doesn’t let it define him.
“What I told myself is no one’s going to work harder than me and no one’s going to out-work or out-study me,” Bruzon said. “Every time I’m in that weight room, I don’t care who you are — if you’re a starter, if you’re a bench player — you’re not going to work harder than me.
“Whenever it gets to the nighttime and I’m watching film, you’re not going to out-study me on the ins and outs of everything. That’s my main two goals going into any time I’m working out or any time I’m just playing football at a high level.”
Bruzon will get his chance to play at the next level, as he recently committed to play at ASU. He gets to do so thanks to his teammates, as he knows they are just as important to his success as his play.
“Those are my guys. They know all of the awards I win are due to our success, so I’m very thankful for them and I know they’re thankful for me as well,” Bruzon said.
Bruzon leaves the Lions with more than a 32-5 record in the past three years, but a legacy that few in the school’s history have ever achieved.
“He’s an amazing player, an amazing leader and he leaves a legacy of being one of the most impactful people to ever be at Liberty High School,” Thomas said.
By James Lotts, Peoria Times Staff Writer www.peoriatimes.com
2024-01-15 07:00:00 , www.peoriatimes.com – Vivrr Local Results in sports of type article