Chaparral downs Pinnacle, eyes playoffs

Senior night is over for the Chaparral High School football team, but that does not mean the Firebirds’ are done playing football at home for 2015.

Chaparral (7-2, 3-1) defeated Pinnacle High School (4-5, 1-3) on Friday, Oct. 23 by the score of 17-10 to take another step towards the playoffs.

The win on senior night was another step toward a home playoff game for the Firebirds and head coach Conrad Hamilton was happy with not only Friday’s win, but also with the result it may cause.

“It’s good for the seniors to get a victory on senior night,” Coach Hamilton said in an Oct. 25 phone interview. “When you go through the program for four years, you want to show out on that particular night. If we didn’t win in that game, we might’ve had to go on the road for the playoffs. We still have to win our game next week against Boulder Creek, but I think (the senior night win) did solidify another opportunity for our seniors to play in front of the home crowd and that’s where we want to be in the playoff race.”

The Pinnacle game came down to the wire as Chaparral won by just one score. Close games have been the norm for the Firebirds and Coach Hamilton says this should help the team moving forward.

“Every game we’ve played in has been a close game,” he said. “Every game at halftime, with the exception of maybe Horizon, which was still 21-7 at half, has been a one possession game. We haven’t blown anybody out. We know how to win close football games. We had a heartbreaker against Centennial but, again, we’re going to be in every game.”

The Firebirds average 149.3 receiving yards and 150 rush yards per game, according to MaxPreps.com, and Hamilton says the evenly distributed offense allows his team to stay in games.

“Our offense is balanced, using the run and pass,” he said. “I think that positions us well to have the opportunity to win every game we play in…Moving forward, playing in close games and pulling it out there at the end will allow our guys to play freely, with confidence and not let the pressure of a close game get to us.”

Heading into their final game of the regular season, the playoffs seem likely for the Firebirds, as they are ranked fifth in the state according to MaxPreps.com. If Liberty High School (3-6, 3-1) defeats Centennial High School (7-2, 4-0) on Friday, the Firebirds will emerge as Section Champions.

The Firebirds are aware the playoff scenarios and they know their section destiny is in the hands of Liberty, but that does not change their approach to Boulder Creek (1-8, 1-3).

“What we’re doing is controlling what we can control,” Coach Hamilton said. “I think that’s the most important thing. We’re not so much concerned with going into the game and winning the game, we’re more concerned with the process of competing hard and playing. If we’ve gone through the process of practice and preparation and go out there and executing every play and play at the highest level, we know at the end of the day that the end result of all of that is going to be a win.”

Scottsdale Independent Sports Correspondent Justin Maskulinski can be contacted at jmaskulinski@newszap.com. Follow him on twitter at twitter.com/Maskulinski.

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