When the Chandler High football team suits up one more time, nearly a month after beating Phoenix Mountain Pointe for the Arizona Interscholastic Association 6A Conference championship, it won’t only will be representing the school, community and families.
“They’re representing Arizona, too,” coach Shaun Aguano said.
Chandler (12-2) will play Georgia’s 6A champion, Valdosta, at 4 p.m. Friday on ESPNU, as part of the GEICO State Championship Bowl Series at the Ford Center at the Star, the Dallas Cowboys’ indoor training facility in Frisco, Texas.
The Wolves leave Thursday morning after finishing finals on Wednesday, Aguano said.
“This gives them more motivation, playing on national TV,” he said. “It’s the only high school game in the country at that time.”
Following the Chandler-Valdosta game, Utah’s 5A champion, Bingham, will play Florida’s 7A champ, St. Thomas Aquinas, at 7:30 p.m., on ESPNU, as part of the doubleheader.
Chandler, which took a week-and-a-half break to recover after its 36-17 state title victory, will see if it can continue its momentum on offense.
Since losing to Mountain Pointe 52-7 in early September, Chandler won its last 10 games in devastating fashion, outscoring its opponents 544-173.
Senior running back T.J. Green has a chance to show why he emerged as one of the best players in school history. He rushed for 2,084 yards and 33 touchdowns, averaging 9 yards per carry, and caught 13 passes for 277 yards and four scores. Green, who has committed to Oregon State, is among three finalists for the Arizona Sports Awards’ Big Schools Football Athlete of the Year, which will be announced in the spring.
Sophomore quarterback Jacob Conover could get himself on college coaches’ radar with a strong performance. He got better as the season went on and finished with 3,444 yards and 29 touchdowns passing, completing 71 percent of his passes with a 138.5 quarterback rating.
His main target is senior receiver Johnny Johnson III, an Oregon commit, who had 74 catches for 1,204 yards and eight TDs.
Aguano said all of the key players are healthy and ready to go.
“This is great experience and exposure for our kids,” Aguano said. “The national exposure for Arizona football and Chandler and all that is great. I weighed it back and forth. This gives them another chance to be seen by college coaches.”
Chandler vs. Valdosta (Ga.)
What: GEICO State Championship Bowl Series.
When: 4 p.m.
Where: Ford Center at the Star, Frisco, Texas.
Doubleheader: Utah’s 5A champion, Bingham, vs. Florida’s 7A champ, St. Thomas Aquinas, 7:30 p.m., ESPNU.