It’s the one-and-only preseason scrimmage for Arizona high school football teams, so it was a chance for everybody to get mistakes out of the way and polish things up before Week 1.
Here are my assessments from Wednesday night’s three-way scrimmage at Gilbert Highland among Chandler, Peoria Centennial and Highland.
Mikey Keene looks sharp
Three-time defending 6A champion Chandler won’t be skipping a beat this year behind junior quarterback Mikey Keene, the heir apparent to three-time state champion Jacob Conover.
Early in the scrimmage, he took advantage of sophomore receiver Quaron Adams’ speed and hit him in stride for a long touchdown pass against Centennial’s No. 1 defense.
Later in the scrimmage, against Highland, Keene hit sophomore wide receiver Kyion Grayes II deep with a TD strike. Keene also was sharp finding receivers in intermediate routes in tight spaces.
If the next wave of talent comes through, Highland is going to be OK, coming off one of the best seasons in school history, giving Chandler its most difficult playoff game, before losing in overtime in the 6A semifinals.
But the Hawks, hit hard by graduation, will have to absorb season-ending injuries to junior defensive end Cooper Brown (at summer camp) and junior linebacker Cannon Booker (during Wednesday’s scrimmage). Both suffered no-contact torn anterior cruciate ligaments, coach Brock Farrel said.
Centennial’s physicality stood out
Except for the long TD pass Centennial gave up to Chandler in a blown coverage, Centennial’s defense looked pretty good. It’s going to be tough to run against the Coyotes and they’re going to get after quarterbacks.
Safety Jaydin Young, who will be utilized on offense, will be the backbone of the defense.
“Blown coverage you can fix, getting blown off the ball, you can’t fix that,” defensive coordinator Andrew Taylor said. “You are what you are.”
Senior quarterback Jonathan Morris knows there were mistakes made in the scrimmage, but feels those are all fixable and a different offense will come out for next week’s opener at home against Queen Creek Casteel.
“We picked it up at the end but we have a lot of things we need to work on,” Morris said. “After the first series, we had to pick it up and that’s what we did.”