Defending champ faces first-timer in all-Chandler title game SanTan Sun News

Defending champ faces first-timer in all-Chandler title game

December 1st, 2017 | by SanTan Sun News
Defending champ faces first-timer in all-Chandler title game
Sport
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By Greg Macafee, Sports Editor

For the third time in four years – and in the second-ever all-Chandler title game – the Chandler Wolves are heading to the 6A State Championship. This time around, though, they will be accompanied by another Chandler Unified School District member that isn’t named Hamilton.

For the first time in school history, the Perry Pumas punched their ticket to the state championship Nov. 14 with a convincing 56-31 win over the Mountain Pointe Pride.

They have been proving themselves all season long, and the victory over the No. 1-ranked Pride solidified their claim to be considered as one of the best in 6A.

Chandler is the only school district in state history to have two high schools vying for the 6A title.

The Wolves are the defending state champs. Early on in the season, they suffered several injuries to key players, including starting quarterback Jacob Conover in week two. But sticking to the “next man up mentality,” the Wolves suffered only one loss, a 24-21 nail-biter against Mountain Pointe.

Chandler is now fully healthy and Conover, along with others, returned just in time for their regular-season matchup with the Pumas. In a 55-27 trouncing, the Wolves handed the Pumas their only loss of the season and claimed their spot atop the 6A class.

Since then, both teams have run the table to secure their spot in Tucson on Dec. 2. Perry survived two battles against Hamilton High, including a 65-63 shootout on Oct. 20. Chandler outscored their final two opponents 98-33 and then outlasted the Pinnacle Pioneers and Oklahoma commit Spencer Rattler in the quarterfinals, 77-52.

Both teams are led by great quarterbacks who have put up astronomical numbers throughout 2017. For Perry, Brock Purdy has been sensational all season, throwing for 3,686 yards and 48 touchdowns through 12 games this season. He’s also been able to torture defenses on the ground as well, running for 882 yards and nine touchdowns.

Against Hamilton in the quarterfinals, Purdy threw for 512 yards and six touchdowns and ran for 86 yards and two more scores. In just eight games this season, Conover has thrown for 2,267 yards and 23 touchdowns. In their semifinal game against Red Mountain, the junior gunslinger threw for 368 yards and seven touchdowns.

But these two quarterbacks aren’t the only weapons that take the field on a weekly basis.

For Purdy, junior wideouts Colby Dickie and D’Shayne James have been his favorite targets, combining for 2,042 yards and 20 touchdowns this season. Purdy also has three other receivers with over 300 yards receiving.

On the Chandler side, it’s been Gunner Romney and Jarick Caldwell through the air. Romney has caught 65 passes for 1,279 yards and 14 touchdowns, while Caldwell has hauled in 47 passes for 729 yards and four touchdowns.

While the Wolves have the ability to dominate teams through the air, they have gone with the ground game this season, relying on the running back duo of Drake Anderson and DeCarlos Brooks.

The pair have both rushed for over 1,000 yards and have combined for 42 of the Wolves 46 rushing touchdowns. Kenny Fultz has been the main man in the backfield for Perry, rushing for 521 yards and 12 touchdowns this season.

Perry and Chandler have both demonstrated their ability to put points on the scoreboard this season, combining for a total of 1,354 points.

But they have also showcased their talents of keeping points off the scoreboard as well. Each team has allowed fewer than 320 points this season.

The two state championship opponents boast solid defensive lines, highlighted by Chris Manoa on the Chandler side and Travis Beckman and Jobiin Sweatt on the Perry side.

Avery Carrington and Bryce Jackson highlight just two of several talented players in the Chandler secondary, while Travis Calloway and Victor Nieto do the same for the Pumas.

These two Chandler teams will battle it out today, Dec. 2, at the University of Arizona Stadium in Tucson, whether it be through the air or on the ground as they have both displayed the talent to score at will.

Either way, two Chandler schools will compete for the state championship for the first time since 2014, when Chandler defeated Hamilton to capture its first state title.

–Contact Sports Editor Greg Macafee at gmacafee@timespublications.com. Follow Greg on Twitter @greg_macafee.

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