October 8, 2004
Chandler has endured the absence of several key players this season, but that hasn’t stopped the Wolves from producing a perfect mark midway through the schedule.
The fifth-ranked Wolves visit Gilbert tonight at 7 in the 5A Fiesta Region opener for both schools.
‘‘We’re pleased with what’s happened so far,’’ Chandler coach Jim Ewan said. ‘‘Other than a few injuries we’ve had a very good first half. The second half will be tougher and we know that. It starts with Gilbert.’’
Chandler has missed wide receiver James Richardson, offensive lineman Lance Cook and linebacker Isaiah Jackson for a couple of games each. Jackson remains out, and last week defensive lineman Mark Chmlelowski banged up a knee and will miss this game and possibly more.
‘‘You can’t help but have some injuries along the way,’’ Ewan said. ‘‘We’ve had some backups step up and really do a nice job.’’
Chandler’s calling card is its defense. The Wolves have allowed 30 points in five games. That’s the main reason they are 5-0.
The Wolves have started slow in a couple of their games, but the defense has come through to break open those tight games.
‘‘They have a lot of quick kids, their linebackers and secondary especially,’’ Gilbert coach Jesse Parker said. ‘‘They pose a problem for you on defense and are productive enough on offense.’’
Gilbert is as good as any 3-2 5A team if the first power-point rankings are an indication. The Tigers’ losses are to Mountain View and Desert Vista — teams that, like Gilbert, are better than their records indicate. Starting region play on the right foot is Gilbert’s aim.
‘‘Beating us last year, that one ranks with the most disappointing losses in my career,’’ Parker said. ‘‘They stripped the ball, and scored on the play to beat us late in the game. It was a game we had won.’’
The guy who had the ball stripped from him — running back Bobby Ili — gets a chance at redemption tonight. Ili figures to be prepared, getting time off from running the ball last week in a blowout victory over Phoenix Camelback. Ili played more at linebacker than he did running back, but Parker is likely to use him just one way in this one.
‘‘He wants to play a lot more on defense,’’ Parker said. ‘‘But with the pounding he takes on offense we need to keep him as fresh as we can.’’