The Chaparral football team was in an unfamiliar place this opening round of the playoffs: On the road. The 10th seeded Firebirds were coming off of a tough loss against Paradise Valley.
You see, their starting quarterback and captain, Sean Paul Brophy was injured a few weeks ago and wouldn’t be able to return this season. Sophomore quarterback Grayson Barry had come up earlier in the year from junior varsity to replace him. The problem was, by the end of the season, Barry had already reached his maximum regular season games, so he would not be able to play. Leading Chaparral Head Football Coach Conrad Hamilton and his staff to have to get creative.
“Our third string quarterback was a receiver who had never played quarterback before,” Hamilton said.
Paradise Valley ended up beating Chaparral 23-3. The Firebirds fell to the #10 seed and would play #7 Westwood in the opening round of the playoffs. However, Hamilton believes the loss created a unique opportunity for the Firebirds. Hamilton said he felt Chaparral matched up very well against Westwood’s run-heavy offense. Turns out he was right.
“We’re a pressure team. We like to get after the quarterback, and we’re stingy against the run, so we’re always going to get those 2nd and 9s and third down and mediums.
The Firebirds were able to slow down Westwood star running back Ethan Johnson and jump out to a 24-0 lead at halftime, thanks to stingy defense and two touchdown throws by Barry despite not being able to play in actual games leading up to the postseason.
“We had him taking live reps as a (first team) vs (first team) so he was getting a lot of opportunities to hand the ball off, but most importantly work on that pass game,” Hamilton said.
The Firebirds ended up beating Westwood 30-0. Many thought the Firebird’s quest for a state title would have to exclusively be on the road, but with #15 Sunnyside upsetting #2 Ironwood Ridge, Chaparral now gets to host the Blue Devils in the second round. Hamilton said they had never complained about being in a tough spot, and have come out in a good position to advance deep in the playoffs.
“Sometimes when you lose, you win. In that situation it looks like we’re coming out pretty decent”.