Both Williams Field High and Chandler High have sent numerous players to the next level, and on Sept. 23, four alumni from the two schools took center stage at Sun Devil Stadium when Arizona State upset former No. 24 Oregon, 37-35.
With 2:33 left in the game, Brandon Ruiz stepped onto the field and drilled a 41-yard field goal to put the Sun Devils ahead for good. The 5-foot-10 true freshman from Williams Field High was a perfect three-for-three on field goals and four-for-four on point-after attempts. In his press conference on Monday, ASU coach Todd Graham said he wasn’t really worried about Ruiz missing the big kick.
“When I sent him out there for that field goal, my first thought was how we were going to stop them (Oregon), that’s how confident I was that he was going to make it,” Graham said. “That’s because, you can tell, he’s relaxed now.”
Ruiz also affected the game on kickoffs, forcing six touchbacks for the Ducks and perfectly executing an onside kick in the first quarter. His performance earned him Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week honors in just his fourth game as a Sun Devil.
Ruiz has been big for ASU all season long as he is five-for-seven on field goals, including a 52-yarder in his first college game, against New Mexico State.
He’s isn’t the only East Valley alumnus who has been big for the Sun Devils this season. After a freshman season with 58 receptions for 659 yards and five touchdowns, former Chandler High standout N’Keal Harry has quickly risen as one of the top wide receivers in the country.
Against Oregon, the 6-foot-4, 220-pound wideout caught seven passes for 170 yards and a touchdown. It was his second straight game with 100-plus yards receiving and at least one touchdown.
“I think he’s only scratching the surface on what he can really be, as he continues to get better fundamentally and really works hard,” Graham said of Harry in his press conference on Monday.
He also found the end zone against San Diego State earlier this year during a five-catch, 49-yard game. He has developed a special bond with his quarterback, and new roommate, Manny Wilkins. The two have connected multiple times throughout the season, but one play last Saturday was special.
Wilkins dropped back and threw a deep to ball to Harry, who was in one-on-one coverage against an Oregon defender. The sophomore receiver adjusted his body enough to win the battle against the corner and come down with the ball.
“I’m very comfortable with him. We put the work in before, during and after practice that helps it pay off at the end of the game,” Wilkins said of Harry.
Two other former Chandler Wolves shared the field last Saturday as Arizona State defensive back Chase Lucas and Oregon wide receiver Johnny Johnson III had the chance to battle each other at times.
Lucas, who played on the offensive side of the ball at Chandler, has switched to defense and finished with eight tackles against the Ducks. Johnson was a junior at Chandler when Lucas and Harry were seniors in 2015. He was a major contributor last season for the 2016 state champions, catching 77 passes for 1,274 yards and eight touchdowns.
Through the first four games of his freshman season at Oregon, Johnson has 12 catches for 196 yards and scored his only touchdown of the season last Saturday against Arizona State.
– Contact Greg Macafee at email@example.com or at 480-898-5630 or follow @greg_macafee on Twitter.