Perhaps the so-called “little things” are aligned.
They’re not necessarily a big deal individually, but as Chandler heads to Los Angeles this weekend to take on a nationally-ranked powerhouse in St. John Bosco (ranked No. 1 in the country by a few websites), maybe out-of-the-norm things will equate to a win for the Wolves.
After the deluge of rain early this week, football fields were flooded at Chandler (among several places), but Campo Verde was there to help, as the Coyotes agreed to let the Wolves practice on C.V.’s FieldTurf each night after the Coyotes were finished for the day.
Chandler will play on FieldTurf against St. John Bosco.
The Wolves don’t have as much experience against out-of-state competition elsewhere, but they spent time in California at passing league tournaments this summer, and the maturation of this year’s group leaves little concern to Chandler coach Shaun Aguano.
And perhaps a lack of penalties, turnovers and missed assignments defensively are all a part of this package of evolution.
“We’re trying to take care of the little things, discipline,” Aguano said. “I think I’ve been a little more harsh on the little things in spring and through summer. I think our kids and the maturity of this group, especially defensively it’s been a good thing.”
St. John Bosco lost four games to begin the 2012 season via forfeit, then rolled to the state championship game before losing to another national powerhouse in Long Beach Poly. Now 2-0 to begin the 2013 season, St. John Bosco is ranked No. 1 nationally and in California this week by MaxPreps.com.
The Braves' front line averages 306 pounds, which means Chandler is going to try and use its speed and (super) up-tempo offense to wear down the Braves. Chandler faced a big offensive line in beating Peoria Centennial in Week 1, and that worked out well for the Wolves, though Chandler knows even this is a different situation.
It’ll take discipline, and perhaps a bit more. The Braves returned nine starters on defense from 2012 and have 11 kids who’ve been offered Division I college scholarships (including several Pac-12 schools). Junior QB Josh Rosen is a two-way threat passing and running behind that big offensive line, and Shay Fields and Jaleen Wadood (who’s committed to Arizona State) are big-play threats catching the ball and defensively.
The aforementioned “speed” comes in the form of kids like Chase Lucas, Dionte Sykes, Elijah Sykes, Mitch McCulley, and, of course, quarterback Bryce Perkins.
“It’ll be a tall task, but I like our chances, especially with our speed,” Aguano said. “We try to get the ball to everyone and keep them happy, but they’ve done a great job of being unselfish. It now helps when you have to defense both running and passing. Pick your poison.”
The Wolves’ “business trip” will be short – the team left Friday for Saturday’s game and returns Sunday morning – but beating Centennial, followed by a blowout win against Sierra Vista Buena allowed the Wolves to see some top competition, and, at 2-0 and facing a team which figures to remain elite in California, help the power rankings down the line, since Chandler has Mountain Pointe next week, and Hamilton in three weeks.
Chandler knows it’s an underdog here, but since the trend already began with strong performances by Mountain Pointe, Hamilton, Desert Ridge and Tucson Salpointe Catholic in out-of-state matchups, the Wolves don’t want to be the ones to end this run.
“I think it speaks a lot of Arizona football and where we’re going,” Aguano said. “It’ll be a great showing if we can beat them and really put the state and these programs on the map.”
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune sports editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (480) 898-6576.