No. 2 Chandler at Red Mountain
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Red Mountain High School (7301 E. Brown Rd., Mesa)
Records: Chandler (4-2, 2-1 Fiesta Region); Red Mountain (5-1, 1-1)
Red Mountain’s quarterback situation was the big news this week, when coach Ron Wisniewski chose Aaron Eiseler to be his permanent starter.
But the Mountain Lions’ fortunes will still rest on the defensive side of the ball, where it must figure out a way to contain Chandler quarterback Brett Hundley. Hundley, who is verbally committed to UCLA, has thrown for 1,614 yards and 16 touchdowns this season with only one interception. He has also rushed for a team-leading 509 yards.
In Chandler’s last game, Hamilton slowed down Hundley by keeping him in the pocket and forcing him to throw the ball. The tactic contributed to a 38-20 victory, and served as a potential blueprint in corraling the talented signal-caller.
While Wisniewski raved about Hamilton’s defensive scheme, he said it may not translate as well with other teams. The Huskies could afford to give Hundley time to throw because of its talented secondary.
“That was an outstanding approach,” he said. “It was obvious on film what they were doing. I love our DB’s, but not everybody has two Division-I scholarship guys back there. We can’t just copy that and expect to have the same kind of success.”
No matter which defense is employed, Chandler will almost assuredly get more than seven points, so Red Mountain’s offense will need to perform better than it did two weeks ago against Brophy in a 17-7 loss.
After last week’s 38-14 win over Dobson, Wisniewski switched from a dual-quarterback system to just Eiseler. While backup quarterback Clint Cogswell’s passing statistics are better, Red Mountain had scored 55 points with Eiseler under center the past three games, compared to just 10 with Cogswell.
“We felt overall that we couldn’t overlook that kind of differential in production,” Wisniewski said.
The decision to go with Eiseler could prove beneficial in this game for Red Mountain. Eiseler is more mobile, and Wisniewski is intent on keeping the time of possession in his team’s favor.
“When you have the football, you need to keep it for a long period of time,” Wisniewski said. “We want to have it. We want to make them feel like there is a sense of urgency. If you’re put into that mode, there’s a little bit of pressure associated with it.”
While Eiseler is expected to get all the snaps, Chandler coach Jim Ewan said his team is prepared to face either quarterback.
“We do tendencies on everyone so it won’t be anything out of the ordinary,” he said. “If everyone does their assignment we should be sound no matter who’s in there. That’s the challenge, everyone doing their assignment.”
Chandler is dealing with a host of injuries, and will be without running backs Aaron Mayo and John Bishop. Bishop will miss the rest of the season after an injury in the Hamilton game two weeks ago, while Mayo could be back next week against Desert Vista. Starting running back Oshae Hatcher was lost for the season in pre-game warmups of the opener, so Chandler will be using its fourth- and fifth-string tailbacks. Three other starters could be out for the Wolves.
“We’re the most banged up we’ve been all year,” Ewan said. “Here’s an opportunity for kids to step in and show what they can do. And there’s no bigger time than now.”