This is as good a chance as any for two Arizona teams, Chandler and Scottsdale Saguaro, to make national statements on Saturday.
At 3:30 p.m. ET, Saguaro takes on Valor Christian in the Denver area as part of the GEICO ESPN High School Kickoff. Valor Christian is getting a lot of national attention for its quarterback, 6-foot-5, 210-pound senior Dylan McCaffrey, the brother of Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey. Dylan led Valor Christian last season to its sixth Colorado big-schools championships in seven years.
Later, at 10:30 p.m. ET, Chandler, No. 22 in the latest Super 25 rankings, takes on Corona (Calif.) Centennial in Norco, Calif., as part of the Under Armour Brothers in Arms Classic. It is the marquee game. Centennial was California’s runner-up last year, going 14-1, losing its only game to Concord De La Salle, 28-21, in the CIF Open Division state final.
Last year, Chandler lost a chance to make a national splash, losing at Las Vegas Bishop Gorman, 35-14.
“It’s a big matchup like last year at Bishop Gorman,” coach Shaun Aguano said. “I think it prepares us mentally for the season. We learn where we’re at.”
Aguano liked how sophomore quarterback Jacob Conover composed himself after the first quarter when he showed first-game nerves in a 34-10 win over Mesa Red Mountain last week. Conover completed 70 percent of his passes after the first quarter and finished with 255 passing yards.
Aguano was really impressed with senior Ryan Johnson, who made his Chandler debut in electric fashion, rushing seven times for 59 yards and two touchdowns and catching five passes, including one for a 51-yard TD.
He said Johnson is as electric as any back in the state.
Saguaro had a great glimpse of athleticism last week from a Southern California team at home, beating Gardena Serra, 35-20. Its offensive line and defense took over in the second half during a 21-0 run.
Junior back and safety Josiah Bradley had a breakout game, scoring on runs of 55 and 32 yards in the second half and intercepting a pass.
“Yeah, we expect to go out there and play well and win,” coach Jason Mohns said. “We take a lot of confidence after Friday night to beat a top team like Serra. They had three four-stars, a ton of speed. That was a good win for us. We have a senior-laden group, a lot of guys who have played big games, (the) state championship.
“We’re not just happy to be there. We feel good. We know Valor is a good team, well-coached, disciplined. They’ve played in big games before.”