Where in the Valley is Gridiron going? - Semifinals

Discussion in 'The Gridiron Arizona Forum' started by Gridiron Arizona, Nov 14, 2018.

  1. Gridiron Arizona

    Gridiron Arizona Moderator
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    Aug 19, 2015
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    Each week, I make the trek out to a school in the Metro Phoenix area to watch, tweet, take photos, and report on a game involving 6A or 5A teams.

    Last week, I was at Centennial as the Coyotes displayed their dominating defense in a 55-7 dismantling of Cienega in the quarterfinals.

    This Friday, the playoffs resume and the Chandler Wolves will be playing their semifinal game at Hamilton HS for the fifth consecutive year. CHS is 3-1 in those games and went on to take state in '14, '16, and '17. Opposing Chandler will be Highland.

    This will be my first look at the Hawks this year and let's face it, most did not see this coming. Sure, Highland improved from 3-7 in 2016 to 8-4 in Brock Farrel's first year (earning him my Coach of the Year). This season, HHS has raised the bar again as it enters its first semi since 2004 (and 3rd in school history) with an 11-1 record. I went back and looked at the Arizona Varsity Preseason rankings and of the 5 voters (myself included), only Chilly had Highland listed in their top 10 (Chilly had the Hawks No. 7). All of us had the two-time defending champion Chandler No. 1.

    Highland has been led in the regular season by seniors Kaleb Herbert (QB) and Noah Burdick (WR). That duo has combined for 13 touchdowns in the 10-game regular season (no stats listed on MaxPreps for the playoffs). The two grew up together and the Highland O-Line has given Herbert plenty of time to throw this season. The Hawks are averaging 39.5 points per game this year, but it's been their defense making the difference over the past month. Highland shut a strong Liberty offense down in a 15-12 win last week in the quarterfinals. Over the last 4 weeks, the Hawks have given up 26 total points (6.5 ppg). If there is an upset to be sprung Friday, that's where it will likely come from.

    Chandler (11-1) only lost in its season opener at Corona Centennial (who is still undefeated). I watched the Wolves score on their first 4 possessions on Sept. 21 in a 42-13 victory at Desert Ridge. Since then, Chandler has scored 45, 56, 62, 62, 49, 64, and 49 points. Some weeks it's the passing of Jacob Conover, who is 180 yards away from his 3rd straight 3,000-yard season. The BYU-commit's next touchdown pass will be the 100th in his career. Other times, it's running back DeCarlos Brooks. The Cal commit posted 248 yards and 5 touchdowns (both career highs) in a 49-21 win over Mountain Pointe.

    Can the Hawks' defense slow down the Chandler machine? Will Highland be able to keep up offensively? Or will Chandler's dominance over Arizona opponents continue? Only Perry has finished within 28 points of the Wolves. . . . and CHS led 37-14 midway through the third quarter, so that 45-34 final wasn't as close as it may seem. We'll find out the answers to those questions this week.

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