Chandler proves Arizona football is among nation's elite
December 24, 2017 by Seth Polansky, AZPreps365
Back for a second consecutive appearance in the Geico State Champions Bowl Series, Chandler was out to prove that Arizona’s top teams deserve consideration with other established programs from around the country.
But when the Wolves fumbled on the opening kickoff, the Chandler collective held its breath. The team recovered the ball and its composure. Chandler forced a fumble on Miami Northwestern’s next possession and scored the first points of the contest off that turnover. Then they scored again … and again.
Jacob De La Torre went to field a punt late in the first half. The Bulls’ Ernest Balkman smothered De La Torre a spilt second before the ball arrived. Amazingly, De La Torre still caught ball and Chandler was awarded some extra penalty yards. The Wolves scored on the next play. Then they won the game in convincing fashion, 55-20.
Arizona football, especially 23rd-ranked Chandler High School, is tough to beat.
“This proves that Arizona football is among the tops in the country,” said head coach Shaun Aguano. “We take that challenge on every year to prove that. There are a bunch of schools in Arizona that can compete at the national level.”
The Bulls, playing in Florida’s 6A class and who have now won four FHSAA titles, compete with four other teams in their district that have a combined 11 state championships. To be the last team standing coming out of Miami with a state crown is saying something. And that’s just district and regional play. Northwestern beat a nationally-ranked Armwood (Seffner) team in the 6A championship -- an Armwood team with two titles and five runner-up finishes. The Bulls lost to IMG Academy this year, but so did Chandler, and they beat last year’s 6A champion Miami Carol City in the third round of the playoffs.
And then the Wolves beat them on the campus of Grand Canyon University.
Earlier this season Centennial stunned St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale) to the tune of 12-0. This is the same nationally-renowned Aquinas program with nine titles -- eight of them in the last 20 years. Back in 2013, Mountain Pointe upended Las Vegas powerhouse Bishop Gorman 28-21 in the Sollenberger Classic on their own field. That year Gorman won its fifth of nine straight Nevada state championships … and counting. Hamilton did the same thing to Gorman in 2010.
Population-wise, Arizona is still growing at a rapid pace and that creates more opportunities for top-level football players to get chances. Pinnacle QB Spencer Rattler will eventually head off to the University of Oklahoma and hopefully lead the Sooners to a BCS title. Yeah, a national champion signal-caller could hail from north Phoenix.
Quarterback Jacob Conover added, “We’ve now won this in back-to-back years. We’ve shown that we’re a national powerhouse. Arizona football is real football.”