It was the rematch of one of the most entertaining football games in division I during the 2014 regular season. A game that saw defending state champion Mountain Pointe run all over Chandler in a game that saw the Pride start fast and see a Wolves comeback come up short.
Friday night the two met again for the right to head to the state championship game and this time it was the exact opposite of the first time they met. Chandler came out blazing fast scoring 21 unanswered points, two of which big pass plays from the arm of Quarterback and Arizona State commit Bryce Perkins who found Justin Jan for 36 yards and N’Keal Harry for 55.
“They play us tougher than anyone else on our schedule,” Perkins. “So we had to come out fast and match their intensity, Especially defensively which was a great turnaround from last game.”
But then Uncle Mo would switch seats and join the Pride in the second quarter and into the third which saw them outscore Chandler 22-7 in that span. Running back Brandyn Leonard was a warrior putting the team on his back and running for over 200 yards in the game.
Driving with an opportunity to pull ahead for the first time in the game deep in Chandler territory, Pride quarterback Garvin Alston was hit from behind as he was throwing and the ball was intercepted by Anfernee Hale and returned it for a touchdown.
“After Anfernee Hale intercepted that ball and took it to the house, it just increased our confidence ten-fold,” said Chandler running back Chase Lucas. “After that we came out and played the game like we do. Our offense started rolling and our defense was getting stops. We were just clicking.”
“That was the play of the game,” mentioned Mountain Pointe head coach Norris Vaughn.
“Our kids were resilient,” added Chandler head coach Shaun Aguano. “We ran the ball well and that was important for us. And we just finished the game.”
Chandler advances to the state championship game for the first time since 1949 and who other than their rival Hamilton to stand in their way in their pursuit of their first ever state championship. The two met back on week six which saw Hamilton get blown out by Chandler 56-24.
“It’s something I’ve dreamed of for 10-12 years,” stated Aguano. “Just seeing our kids’ faces at the end of the game, it was just incredible.”
“It’s what Arizona has been asking for,” stated Perkins. “A rematch of Chandler and Hamilton in the championship, you couldn’t ask for anything else. But we know we’ve got to prepare, come back tomorrow, work on our mistakes from this game. We’re not done yet. There is still plenty of football left to play.”
It was a very different environment prior to the game as the focus from those in the stands and on the sidelines wondered if this game would even count as a result. Reports came down before the game that hardship paperwork for running back Tyrek Cross who transferred into Mountain Pointe after moving to town from Minnesota. From speaking with sources as well as discussing the matter on the sidelines, many did not think that the Pride would have been forced to forfeit the game if they had won which was to be determined at an emergency AIA meeting this coming Tuesday.
Seeing as the Pride came up short in the game, this ruling will most likely be postponed until after the season is over. Norris Vaughn spoke about Cross after the game in the video below: