Chaparral High School to face Pinnacle on Senior Night

Friday night could be the last time Chaparral High School’s football seniors take the field at Firebird Stadium, but the focus of the Firebirds is making sure that possibility does not become a reality.

“Hopefully if we win the next few we’ll have a home playoff game, but this definitely could be one of the last opportunities that our seniors get a chance to run out of the tunnel at Firebird Stadium,” Chaparral head coach Conrad Hamilton said in an Oct. 19 phone interview. “So I think this will be a big deal for us to have the home-field advantage on senior night.”

The Firebirds (6-2, 2-1) host Pinnacle High School (4-4, 1-2) in a section match-up that pits a young Pinnacle quarterback against an experienced Chaparral defense.

The top ten leading tacklers on the Firebirds’ defense are either juniors or seniors, according to MaxPreps.com.

The freshman quarterback taking the field for the Pioneers is Spencer Rattler. Despite taking varsity snaps as a freshman, Rattler has not been rattled this season, as he has thrown for 1,503 yards and 12 touchdowns on the season, according to MaxPreps.com.

Coach Hamilton says the Firebirds are not focusing on Rattler’s youth because the Pioneers have proven they are a formidable opponent in the Valley.

“What we’re going to do is treat them like they’re definitely a worthy opponent,” he said. “We’re really not worried about how young or how old their team is.”

“We feel like we’re a championship-level football team and we’re going to give every single opponent that we play their due credit of being a worthy opponent. That’ll be first and foremost for us.”

Pinnacle has taken down tough opponents this season in Brophy College Preparatory (5-3, 1-1) and Saguaro High School (6-2, 3-0). The Pioneers average 25 points and 353 yards per game on the season, so the Firebirds know their offense will need to be efficient on Friday.

“We just need to make sure we put some points on the board and not have any three-and-outs and always move the ball,” junior quarterback Grayson Barry said in an Oct. 19 phone interview. “If we can hold the ball for most of the game, we should be good.”

Through the first seven games of the season, Barry had thrown for 1,081 yards and eight touchdowns. Another main contributor on offense is Kurt Shugart, who leads the team in rushing with 644 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Shugart also plays on defense, as a safety/linebacker. On the season, he has 33 solo tackles and 46 total tackles.

“My first game doing it, playing both ways, I was a little bit gassed, but every single week it got a little easier,” Shugart said in an Oct. 19 phone interview. “The only way you can really prepare for it is just playing. The more games you play the better shape you’re in. As the season goes on, I only feel better and better in games. I haven’t gotten too beat up this year, as you go on in every game, you get in better and better shape.”

“We play the best of the best, so I know how it is taking hits against the biggest kids, against the best kids. I feel like going into the playoffs, I’ll be fine and stay healthy.”

The playoffs seem to be inevitable for the talented Firebird team, but they are focused on the task at hand, as they have been since section play began earlier this month.

“We felt like once we started section play, for the most part, that it was a playoff game,” Coach Hamilton said. “We want to have an opportunity to put ourselves in the best position to have a home playoff game which then could allow us to possibly move further in the playoffs. Our goal is to win a championship. Here at Chaparral, that’s our one main focus moving forward—get a home playoff game and have an opportunity to win a championship.”

The Firebirds have an opportunity to move one step closer to their ultimate goal when they take on Pinnacle at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23 at Firebird Stadium.

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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