Historically, No. 8-vs.-No. 9 in any postseason format gets earmarked as first-round "can't miss" game, and this one figures to hold true to said theory.
Avondale Westview did about all it could do in taking the No. 8 spot in Division I. The Knights lost to two of Arizona's best this season in Red Mountain (Week 1) and in a wild ending against Brophy (Week 7), but cruised through its Section I schedule against the Phoenix Metro schools.
After a 38-31 loss to Desert Vista, Chandler fell to No. 9. Had the Wolves won, they likely would have been the No. 4 seed, which, if true, would have given them a far different opponent and two home playoff games.
Instead, the Wolves have a long drive to play against one of the best programs from the old 5A Division II.
"We talked to our kids this week about the misnomer of us having not win the big one," Wolves coach Shaun Aguano said. "We've talked about it and you have to beat the best and we have to do that, and they're one of the best out West."
Highly respected throughout the high school football community, Westview coach Jeff Bowen has built a perennial contender in Avondale with old-world tendencies (running the ball, defense and discipline). Despite Westview not being able to start the same offensive line for more than a week all season, they have a three-headed attack led by two-time 1,000-yard rusher Seivion Morris and Shayne Miller (784 yards, 13 TD).
Misdirection is a key component of the Knights' rushing success the past several years, but if that's not enough, Westview quarterback Blake Hahn has thrown for nearly 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns. He can also run (eight yards per carry).
"There's no magic," Bowen said. "It's as old as dinosaurs. We'll just do what we do."
Chandler's hope, then, is to get an early lead and try to force Westview into throwing more often that it would like to try and catch up.
The return of wide receiver Lloyd Mills this week after Aguano kept him out of the Desert Vista game with nagging injuries will help. In that realm, Westview's strength has been its secondary.
That group fared well against Brophy, but hasn't seen the barrage of weapons Chandler possess on offense with Mills and Javon Williams lined up outside, and Paul Perkins running the ball.
Perkins, who has 1,172 yards and 18 touchdowns rushing, is "without a doubt best RB we've seen," in Bowen's mind.
No argument from the Chandler side on that statement. But the Wolves know that discipline on defense - not always a strength of Wolves teams in recent years - is the only way to build a lead against an offense Aguano loosely compared to Mountain Pointe and Hamilton.
"They've been in big games and they know how to get there," he said of Westview. "The loser hangs up their cleats. It's do-or-die."