Friday night the curtain dropped for a number of teams around the state, while for others, it’s an extra special time of year – the playoffs.
The Arizona high school football world revolved around Chandler High School so let’s start there.
Simply, The Best
Until someone beats them (don’t count on it in the next month), the 7-0 Chandler Wolves are untouchable.
After Hamilton (6-1) hung around in the first half, Rick Garretson’s team pitched a second half shutout coasting to a 34-14 win in a game which turned routinely anti-climactic towards the end of the third quarter.
Appreciate the support tonight from our student body, faculty, Admin and parents… more work to be done … proud of our kids… never underestimate the 💜 of a champion … #LETSGETBETTER #SOC pic.twitter.com/PhrnYUJuv4
— Coach G (@GarretsonRick) November 21, 2020
Senior quarterback Mikey Keene was once again brilliant, throwing three touchdowns and having complete control of the offense.Kyion Grayes reeled in two scores and Jalen Richmond added another.
The thing which makes Chandler so difficult is you have to play a near perfect game to compete with them and an absolutely perfect one to beat them.
Like last year, Hamilton jumped out to an early lead but the defending Open Division Champions never panic and eventually just take the fight out of their opponents.
The Wolves have now won 33 consecutive games.
Hoping For The Best
The contest seemed to significantly turn in Chandler’s favor after Nicco Marchiol was injured on a scramble play near the Hamilton sideline early in the second half.
The junior quarterback was sandwiched between two defenders and exited the game after trainers checked his left throwing shoulder.
💔Keep yall updated. Thank you for all the kind words. Nothing but respect for Chandler. Played their hearts out. https://t.co/mp2rvdnjGm
— Nicco Marchiol (@MarchiolNicco) November 21, 2020
Marchiol’s pads were spotted near the Huskies’ bench but it appeared he left the general vicinity after the injury.
Head Coach Mike Zdebski didn’t show his cards after the game when it came to the status of his standout signal-caller.
“We’ll evaluate [Saturday] and see where things are at,” he said briefly without offers any followup on the severity of the injury.
The Buck(ner) Stops Here
Is it possible stud Oregon commit Brandon Buckner could be underrated?
The Chandler senior defensive end wasn’t perfect, jumping offsides twice to extend Hamilton drives, but he was his usual disruptive force off the edge helping CHS keep a good thing going against their rivals just down Arizona Avenue.
Chandler Wolves Senior DE and Oregon commit @brandonbuckner_ shoots a gap and makes a great play in the backfield for a TFL, Chandler takes over possession leading 27-14 with 9:40 left in the game @DSArivals @DuckSports @DSAFootball @AZHSFB pic.twitter.com/p0eltFBYDz
— Cody Cameron (@CodyTCameron) November 21, 2020
“We’ve been talking about it all week,” Buckner said of the defensive game plan against HHS. “We executed. Practice went well [this week]. We just stuck to the script and didn’t listen to the outside noise. This game felt amazing. You saw the outcome.”
Yup, Arizona and a national audience who watched the game on ESPNU.
“We have respect for each other on both sides of the ball,” Buckner said of the rivalry which while heated, was clean without any skirmishes and little trash talking between players. “There’s a lot of talent in both programs. There’s a mutual respect. We make each other better.”
Three and Out
Three scores which caught my attention from Week Eight.
1. Chaparral pounds Pinnacle 52-10.
Man I hope Chaparral makes the 6A playoffs. Firebirds have scored on every drive tonight. Silbor to Capri Hamilton for a TOUCHDOWN!
Silbor tonight: 376 yards, FIVE touchdowns.
— Gridiron Arizona (@gridironarizona) November 21, 2020
The rollercoaster ride of their COVID-shortened season continued at Chap Town but make no mistake, the Firebirds have plenty of talent to make noise if they get in.
2. Boulder Creek rolls previously unbeaten Sunnyslope 35-3.
FINAL FROM ANTHEM!
BC JAGUARS 35
BC finishes the regular season 7-1!
HOW ‘BOUT THEM JAGUARS! pic.twitter.com/LrSqNcxkdu
— BCJags (@BCJagsFootball) November 21, 2020
The 6A Jags are a heart-breaking Week One loss at Casteel away from being unbeaten and stating their case for an Open Eight bid. Sure, they had a nail-biter against winless Brophy but they enter the playoffs (wherever they end up) playing with great purpose behind a large group of home grown seniors ready to make one final statement.
3. Tucson Salpointe stays perfect, thumping 4-2 Desert Mountain 31-3 in north Scottsdale.
Congratulations to the 2020 Lancers on completing an undefeated regular season! Stay tuned for playoff placement tomorrow.
— LancerNation (@SCLancerNation) November 21, 2020
A tip of the cap to first-year head coach Eric Rogers who has done a masterful job taking over a graduation-depleted roster and overhauling some of a success, veteran staff.
Lancer running back David Cordero has led a balanced rushing attack, while junior quarterback and University of Arizona commit Treyson Bourguet has spread the ball around to a number of receivers, most notably Elijah Barclay who had a knack for the end zone (five touchdowns entering this week).