Blogs / Features
Les WillseyStaff Writer, AIA365.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Week 4 FB: Chandler schools primed for competitive contestsSep 12, 2012
Usually this time of year Hamilton is the unbeaten Chandler school waiting for its latest test. But Friday night it's neighboring Chandler High and Basha going for unbeaten status in the city as the Wolves and Bears lock up at Austin Field.
Probably be a good idea for Chandler officiais to make sure new or slightly used bulbs don the scoreboard. The teams are likely to light it up with high-powered offenses such as they did a year ago. Last year the teams combined for 99 points as Basha came away with a 58-41 win. The teams have faced easier schedules thus far compared to Hamilton, but have taken care of business handilty for the most part.
Basha (3-0) has noone left in its backfield that played in last year's scoring-fest. But junior Rajhan Meriwether, who came on late last season, has continued to impress. Meriwether has rushed for 411 yards and three touchdowns. Quarterback Zach Werlinger has stepped in for graduated Kyle Duran and passed for 518 yards and nine TDs. Werlinger has one of the state's best receivers to throw to in Nate Phillips, who has 14 receptions for 303 yards and seven TDs. In last year's meeting with Chandler, Phillips caught 14 passes for 247 yards.
Chandler (3-0) got a tougher game than expected for better than a half from Mesquite last week. The Wolves need to be sharp the next three weeks with Basha, Mountain Pointe and Hamilton facing them in succession. Chandler has the edge in experience behind center with quarterback Darell Garretson having a full season-plus behind him.
Garretson has thrown for 507 yards and nine TDs this season and had a good night in last year's game passing for 339 yards and three scores. Garretson is throwing to an almost entirely new set of receivers, but has thrown TD passes to six different ones. Leading the team in receiving is Mitch McCulley averaging nearly 20 yards a catch. Chandler's ground game has been sound so far led by Branden Jenkins and Basha transfer Myles Smith.
DESERT RIDGE (3-0) AT HAMILTON (1-2): Is this the year Desert Ridge comes away with a win against Hamilton? Maybe. Hamilton owns a 5-0 advantage, winning twice before Desert Ridge became a playoff-caliber program and three times in the last two seasons.
Desert Ridge, however, is facing the best defense its seen to date. Hamilton's played well enough defensively to win all three of its games. The Huskies schedule has been tougher with Mountain Pointe and Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks, Calif.) solid teams with lofty postseason aspirations. Desert Ridge figures to another in Hamilton's early slate.
That said Desert Ridge has made waves with a spiffy new quarterback in Tarek Morrison and Basha-import J.J. Husar at running back. The Jaguars have put up impressive offensive numbers in wins over Gilbert, Mesa Mountain View and Highland.
Hamilton was better on offense last week, but lis ooking for that unit to be more productive and likely will need it this week. Hamilton punched in three special teams touchdowns in hammering Notre Dame Prep. Hamilton coach Steve Belles says quarterback A.J. Thigpen is taking small steps each week . Thigpen accounted for more than 200 yards rushing and passing vs. Notre Dame Prep. Receiver Tyler Eggers has been the most consistent offensive player for the Huskies and they are finding ways to get cornerback Cole Luke in on offense with his playmaking talent.
TEMPE PREP (3-0) AT ARIZONA LUTHERAN (2-1): Tempe Prep nabbed a nice win over D-IV Seton Catholic last week and would like to build momentum with another with two key games coming to finish the month (Scottsdale Christian and Northwest Christian). Tempe Prep utilizes a backfield by committee with four backs rushing for more than 150 yards. Leading the way is Levi Hartzler and quarterback Forest Redlin, who scored twice and rushed for 126 yards in Tempe Prep's upset last week.
Arizona Lutheran relies heavily on all-purpose back Alfred Erives, who has rushed for at least 200 yards in all three games and is averaging 18 yards a reception. Erives has 868 yards rushing and receiving.
SALPOINTE (3-1) AT MARANA MTN. VIEW (3-0): Salpointe has won its last three games after opening with a loss out-of-state. Quarterback Aaron Cota continues to light it up through the air with a host of receivers he can throw to. The running game is paced by Jonny Pena. Marana Mountain View opened the 2011 season with the same 3-0 mark, but lost to Salpointe, 34-7 and struggled the rest of the season. Marana Mountain View boasts a running game led by Richie Estrada (396 yards) and quarterback Cody Rochon. Each has found the end zone four times.
CORONA DEL SOL (2-1) AT HIGHLAND (2-1): Highland needs a bounce-back after getting throttled by Desert Ridge last week. The Hawks were shut down offensively and the defense couldn't stop Desert Ridge. Corona doesn't have the weapons of Desert Ridge, but has played good enough defense to give Highland a battle. This could be a pivotal game for both teams at season's end when it comes down to sporting a winning record and shot at postseason. This is Corona's first shot at taking on a team with a winning record in 2012. Corona has defeated two Mesa schools (Westwood and Dobson) and Highland has topped two Gilbert schools handily (Mesquite and Gilbert). Combined those four schools are 1-11.