Striking the right balance offensively and defensively. If that happens in 2008, Gilbert High expects a repeat trip to the 5A Division I playoffs — and a longer stay.
The Tigers’ Achilles’ heel last season was on offense. They opened the season with an 8-7 loss to Mesa Westwood and were closed out by Mesa Mountain View in the first round of the playoffs, 15-6.
Gilbert failed to score in double digits in three games last season, and with an improved defense last year, a better offense likely would have taken them further.
Gilbert scored 278 points in 2006, 184 last season. The 2007 squad yielded 167 points; the 2006 team allowed 292.
“Two years ago, we had the offense, and last year our defense was strong,” coach Jesse Parker said. “We had trouble on offense last year. That hurt us in some close games.”
Gilbert’s running game was slightly more productive last season, but the passing game declined drastically (2,938 yards to a paltry 527). The decline in points was a natural byproduct.
Gilbert figured it would have a seasoned quarterback in the fold this fall to help remedy that shortfall, but last year’s starter, Kienan Turner, transferred to Chandler Hamilton.
Parker had two young options this year and decided to go with junior Brandon Bialkowski, a southpaw and the Tigers’ junior varsity quarterback last season. He beat out sophomore Nathaniel Causey.
Bialkowski (6-foot-1, 185 pounds) is more familiar with Gilbert’s offense, having had a year in the system; Causey has size at 6-3, 210.
“He’ll be the first left-handed quarterback I’ve had start since I began coaching,” Parker said of Bialkowski. Parker began his head coaching career at Phoenix Camelback in 1969.