Make Your Move: Adjustments Key to Semifinal Rematches

The defensive meetings for Mountain Pointe and Chandler coaches this week are lasting a little longer.

At least they should be heading into Friday’s semifinal at Hamilton.

The thought of containing Chandler quarterback Bryce Perkins is usually just that – a thought.

The Arizona State commit has been fantastic this season – completing 75 percent of this passes with 42 touchdowns and just five interceptions in 224 attempts.

The guys downfield – Justin Jan, N’Keal Harry and Kory Taylor – are big and athletic. They go up and get the ball. Not a good matchup for the Pride’s smallish cornerbacks although with the addition of Paul Lucas, who is the tallest at 5-11, the ‘Island Boys’ are coming off their best game of the season.

 And then there is the dynamic Chase Lucas, who had a touchdown run of 70 yards and 99-yard kickoff return in the first game before sitting out the second half.

He has the ability to take over the game, but isn’t called upon all that often because of Perkins’ ability to spin the ball down the field. When that isn’t the option Perkins and his long strides can be seen picking up first downs with the greatest of ease.

The Pride had possibly their best game of quarterback pressure in a big game last week against Pinnacle in the Norris Vaughan era.

It could mean that Perkins runs more than he has all season.

“We’ll have a completely different game plan (compared to Pinnacle),” Pride coach Norris Vaughan said. “Chandler can run the ball. Pinnacle didn’t have much of a running game. What we did last week (scheme wise) doesn’t matter. We have to come up with something different for Chandler.”

 Then there is the Pride offense and what it has in store when Mountain Pointe breaks from the huddle.

It starts with the offensive line and the nasty streak that usually leads to a personal foul for excessive pancaking. Seriously, there have been several calls against the line this year because one of the linemen physically manhandled the guy across from him too much.

Referees have told Vaughan that his team is too physical. Not sure how to take that really. The basic premise of the game  upfront is to physically move your opponent to carry about your job. Let up and get beat.

We digress.

The Pride offensive line imposes its will on the opponent and the Pride’s trio of running backs are the benefactors.

Brandyn Leonard will get All-Arizona consideration with his 1,399 yards and 20 touchdowns with his tough runs inside that he seemingly always breaks to the outside in the second level, Paul Lucas has two games with 285 or more yards this season and Tyrek Cross treats the line of scrimmage like a wall and he is the Kool-Aid Man crashing it down.

In the first meeting Mountain Pointe had 61 rush attempts and four passes. 

The Wolves, of course, are going to attempt to force the Pride to throw a lot more. If Chandler pulls off what it wants to senior wide receiver Tyree Shivers and the other personnel in the Pride’s passing game will have to have its best game of the year.

“We can get the job done when we have to,” Shivers said. “We haven’t had to pass much. Defenses try to stop our running backs but they can’t. When they need us we will be there.”

Chandler was burned by the sell-out-to-stop-the-run tactic in the first game as the Pride offense line did whatever it wanted and once Leonard and Lucas broke through the line they outran the angles.

But a halftime adjustment – keeping the defensive backs off the ball to cut off big plays with better angles – limited the Pride to just three points in the second half in Mountain Pointe’s 45-42 win.

It’s all – anticipating adjustments, implementing your own and disguising the schemes and plays that worked the first time around so it won’t be picked up easily by the opposition – are all part of the chess game that coaches have to play in rematches.

And it is time to find out which team is a step ahead of the other.

“It’s the third time we’ve played them (since September of last season),” Vaughan said. “There are some things we have prepared we think will work and they do to. You never know for sure until you get in the game and see how the matchups work out.”