Chandler Wolves gut out win over Scottsdale Chaparral High School

The Chandler Wolves defeated the No. 7 Chaparral Firebirds 22-10 Friday, Sept. 4. (Photo credit: Jacob Garcia)

The Chandler Wolves defeated the No. 7 Chaparral Firebirds 22-10 Friday, Sept. 4. (Photo credit: Jacob Garcia)

The No. 1 Chandler Wolves defeated the No. 7 Chaparral Firebirds 22-10 Friday night, thanks to capitalization on Chaparral miscues and stout defensive play.

On numerous occasions, Chaparral (1-1) appeared on the brink of seizing the momentum but costly drive-killing penalties, two turnovers and an inability to get off the field on third downs ultimately soiled any potential upset bid.

“We’re in that game,” Firebirds’ head coach Conrad Hamilton said. “We had an opportunity to win that game. It’s that last drive. Two third down plays. We played tough and I’m proud of the way our defense played. Offensively, we didn’t play a complete game.”

The two third down plays which Coach Hamilton referred to came in the dwindling stages of the third quarter during a Chandler offensive possession that was preceded by Chaparral cutting the lead to eight.

On two instances, Chandler senior quarterback Mason Moran tucked the ball on third down and moved the chains for his offense. With the drive extended on multiple occasions, junior running back T.J. Green broke off a 22-yard touchdown run to put Chandler up 22-7.

“We just didn’t make the plays that needed to be made,” Coach Hamilton said. “They did. Kudos to them. That’s why they’re the defending state champs.”

Chandler (2-1) struck first at the 4:22 mark in the first quarter, as star senior wide receiver N’keal Harry hauled in two acrobatic catches to set up a 20-yard touchdown scamper on a read-option play for Moran.
Yet for Moran, Harry and the potent Wolves’ offense in its entirety, the game’s first score represented the only true mark of easy treading for the remainder of the contest.

Instead, it was the Wolves’ defense that shouldered the load—an essence that reared itself when cornerback Isiah Swann picked off Chaparral quarterback Grayson Barry, and returned it for a touchdown. The interception put Chandler up 15-0 as the first half came to a close.

“That was huge for us because our offense hadn’t been doing anything this game,” Chandler head coach Shaun Aguano said. “Just to turn the momentum and get us up by two scores was huge for us. I thought our defense played a really good game. Kept our offense in it.”

Despite the 15-point halftime deficit, Chaparral showed resiliency and began to chip away at the deficit in the middle of the third quarter.

Benefitting from a pass interference call early in the drive, senior tailback Kurt Shughart broke off a long run to put his offense inside the 20 yard line. Spencer Greenberg, the other contributor in the two-headed running back attack for Chaparral, capped the drive off with a 15-yard touchdown rush, cutting the deficit to 15-7.
Chaparral was forced to lean on its rushing attack due to an elbow injury on the throwing arm of quarterback Grayson Barry.

Though Hamilton confided after the game that the bulge on Barry’s left elbow didn’t limit him in any capacity, a better-safe-than-sorry mindset was evident after the referees asked him to remove his arm sleeve. The coaching staff then opted to rely less on the passing attack, and instead focus the attention on creating gaps for the running game — a strategy with which Coach Hamilton wasn’t as confident.

“At Division I it’s going to be a numbers game,” Coach Hamilton said. “How many of our guys get tired? How many of our guys get hurt? And playing against a team that has more guys, but again that showed us today, in my opinion, that we can play (against a team like Chandler). We didn’t play our best game here and we had plenty of opportunities to win that football game.”

After the Chaparral touchdown, Chandler struck the jugular and immediately responded with one of their own with Green’s rush.

The Firebirds mustered a field goal to cut the deficit to 12, but the ultimate nail in the coffin came after a long, methodical drive of theirs was stymied with a gutty fourth down stop from Chandler.

“Hats off to them,” Moran said in regards to his defense’s electric play. “They definitely carried us tonight… Isiah Swan’s pick six six—did a great job breaking on the ball tonight… Hats off to all kinds of other players like (senior linebacker) Hamelcar (Rashed), (senior cornerback) Kyree (Woods), (senior safety) Teauntae (Nash). Everybody doing their thing out there; it was great to watch when our defense is doing a great job.”

Both teams will be back in action again next week, as Chandler is tasked with short rest for the second week in a row— a Thursday night tilt against Desert Ridge — and Chaparral hits the road for a Friday night affair against Desert Edge.

Editor’s note: Mr. Garcia is a JMC 301 student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism

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