The Centennial players could sense it before even taking the field Friday night under the lights at North Canyon High School.
They knew they were ready to take the next step and 10-seeded Chaparral (9-4) didn’t put up much of a fight as the third-seeded and playoff- tested Coyotes raced to a 21-0 halftime lead and cruised to an easy 24-0 Division II semi-final win in a game dominated by Richard Taylor’s team who played nearly flawless on offense, defense and special teams.
“[We’ve] come together as a team,” the mild-mannered Taylor said after the game. “Hats off to our seniors.”
The Coyotes (11-2) broke the ice offensively in the second quarter when bruising senior running back Dedrick Young (183 rushing yards Friday) took a handoff from junior quarterback Isaac Steele and carefully picked his way through a crease in the middle of the line before sprinting past the Firebird secondary to the end zone. Young would add another scoring run before halftime, this one from 30 yards out which was all Centennial’s defense needed completely overmatching sophomore quarterback Grayson Barry and controlling the line of scrimmage against Chap’s veteran offensive line.
“Tonight was one of those nights,” middle linebacker Bozton Sanders told Sports360AZ.com after the game. “We prepared all week for this. We were all around the ball. We were just having fun.”
The Chaparral offense spent nearly the entire second half in their own territory as Centennial’s talented secondary limited any big play threats.
The win sets up a championship showdown next Saturday with top-ranked Liberty who blanked visiting Cienega.
The Peoria schools are just a short drive from one another in the west Valley.