Chandler Offense Loaded With Receiving Weapons For Qb Conover - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler Offense Loaded With Receiving Weapons For Qb Conover

November 6th, 2018 SanTan Sun News
Chandler Offense Loaded With Receiving Weapons For Qb Conover
Sports and Recreation

By Zach Alvira

STSN Sports Editor

There is a reason why the Chandler High football team is favored to win the 6A state championship for the third straight season.

From the coaching staff, led by Shaun Aguano, to the abundance of talented athletes at nearly every position, it would be a surprise if the Wolves aren’t hoisting the championship trophy on Dec. 1.

They have not lost to an Arizona school since Sept. 9 of last year.

Nowhere are they more loaded than at receiver, a group that helped quarterback Jacob Conover pass for 2,405 yards and 30 touchdowns during the regular season. He has an array of effective targets at his disposal, and the 6-foot-1, 205-pounder makes it look easy.

“In our schematics, our receivers never know who is going to get the ball so they always have to be ready,” Aguano said. “Jacob has athletes to get the ball to and the good thing about having that talent is the competition. If somebody isn’t making plays I have someone waiting right behind them.”

Conover has been under center for the Wolves since his sophomore season, leading them to back-to-back state titles and a 35-5 record through the end of the regular season.

“We just need to continue playing together as a team,” Conover said. “When the defense succeeds the offense succeeds.

“We are very collaborative and that’s what makes us such a cohesive family.”

The senior attributes his success to the players around him and to the coaching staff, specifically Aguano and passing-game coordinator Rick Garretson.

“He pushes me. He never wants me to become complacent,” Conover said of Garretson. “He just wants me to get better and better. That’s what we do here.”

Junior wide receiver Gunner Maldonado leads Chandler’s receivers with 782 yards, yet he hasn’t played since Week 8 due to a shoulder injury that will likely keep him out for the remainder of the season.

Stepping up is senior Daseua Puffer, a 6-foot-4, 180-pounder, who has flown under the radar.

Puffer caught 31 passes for 565 yards and nine touchdowns, his best performance coming against rival Hamilton with 122 yards receiving and a touchdown. The senior hasn’t had much interest from college programs yet, but remains confident that he will have an opportunity by the end of the season.

“I’m just waiting for whatever comes my way,” Puffer said. “I just plan on finishing out the season and get as much film as I can. We’ll see what comes.”

Puffer’s recruiting status comes as a surprise to Conover and Aguano, given Puffer’s big plays. Aguano remains confident that Puffer will begin to attract college scouts.

“Once the schools start coming they will like his height,” Aguano said. “Now he has good tape (to show them) so it’s only a matter of time before he gets some looks.”

Senior receiver Brayden Liebrock, a Texas commit, caught 41 passes for 498 yards and six touchdowns.

Like Puffer, Liebrock takes advantage of mismatches on the outside, using his 6-foot-5, 225-pound frame to overpower opposing defenders.

“It definitely helps,” Liebrock said of his size. “Most corners now are just small and fast so we can overpower them. But being quick is another aspect of our game that helps us be so successful.”

Puffer and Liebrock have built a close connection with the rest of the Wolves’ receiving corps and with Conover.

The familiarity for many of them dates to their freshman season, and for some, earlier.

“Our chemistry and being able to be together 24/7 has helped us,” Liebrock said. “Me and Puffer played with him over the summer in 7-on-7 so we just have a connection since we have been catching balls from him for a while now.”

Conover connected with eight other receivers and running back Decarlos Brooks.

Brooks and senior Jacob De La Torre combined for 37 receptions for 403 yards and three touchdowns. Both are elusive after catch and have speed to outrun defenders.

The Wolves will continue to use every weapon as they begin another march through the playoffs in defense of their state title.

“They don’t want to be the team that loses,” Aguano said. “That is held over their heads a little bit but this team has such great chemistry and they refuse to lose.”