Dylan Raiola sets sights high in Chandler - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Dylan Raiola sets sights high in Chandler

June 9th, 2022 SanTan Sun News
Dylan Raiola sets sights high in Chandler
Sports and Recreation
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By Zach Alvira
Sports Editor

Dylan Raiola’s time as quarterback in football has been limited. He only started playing the position two years ago under former NFL quarterback Jon Kitna at Burleson High School in Texas.

He sat behind Kitna’s son, Jalen, who was previously at Brophy when his father was the head coach of the Broncos. Raiola became close with the family during his childhood. His father, former NFL center Dominic, played with Kitna in Detroit for the Lions.

Raiola learned from both Kitnas. By the time he entered his sophomore year, he was ready to become the team’s full-time starter and quickly excelled.

“I felt really good and I am happy with what I’ve accomplished, but I have two more years to develop,” Raiola said. “Now it’s all about getting ready for college and winning here at Chandler. Being around this game, I’ve always been locked in. I just need to keep working.”

Raiola passed for 3,341 yards, 32 touchdowns and just five interceptions as a sophomore last fall. He led the Elks to an 8-4 record which included a trip to the playoffs.

The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder quickly shot up the ranks as a national recruit. His first scholarship offer came before his sophomore season from the University of Georgia. By October, he added offers from the likes of Alabama, Baylor, Texas Tech, West Virginia and Nebraska, his father’s alma mater.

But his recruitment was still just getting started.

In late October he visited Ohio State University, where he was offered a scholarship. Notre Dame quickly followed, among others.

In January, Raiola and his family moved back to Arizona, where they lived before he entered high school. Originally from Hawaii, Raiola said the move was to be closer to family.

He was initially going to enroll at Chandler before moving away two years ago, so he came back to head coach Rick Garretson and the Wolves.
Garretson said Raiola adds a new dimension to the offense. Dominic helping out as an assistant with the offensive line adds even more.

Raiola immediately meshed with the Chandler players and coaching staff. He started working with his offensive line, arguably his favorite unit on the field.

After workouts he frequently hung out with them, taking them out to eat on at least one occasion in late April before the start of spring ball.

“I love them,” Raiola said of the offensive line. “They work hard and they’re funny. They’re always going to get blamed for things but never get the credit they deserve. It’s little things, I just want to make sure they know I appreciate them.”

He also started to work on the chemistry with his wideouts, which features a talented group headlined by junior Justice Spann and senior Junior Nsubuga. A track star for the Wolves, Nsubuga has the length at 6-foot-3 and the top-end speed to blow by opposing cornerbacks.

He has become a legitimate deep threat for the Wolves, and he is happy to have a quarterback like Raiola that he knows will be able to get it to him in stride.
“Our timing is everything,” Nsubuga said. “I’m excited for it. This is the first time I’ll be in a position that I’ve really prepared for.”

Chandler’s spring ball practices were met with national media attention and several college scouts there for Raiola and a slew of other high-level Division I players on the Wolves’ roster.

Little did they know, Raiola already has his school of choice in mind.

On Monday, May 9, the day of his 16th birthday, Raiola announced his commitment to Ohio State at Impact Church in Scottsdale. Raiola said his decision, while early in his career, came at the right time. He felt at home with Buckeyes coach Ryan Day on his visit. He spoke with several current Buckeyes while in Columbus, including former Chandler wideout Kyion Grayes, and maintained contact with them throughout the process.

“It’s a big-time program,” Dominic said. “When you talk about the (College Football Playoff) every year, you’ve gotta mention Ohio State. But it’s really the meat and potatoes about it. It’s a blue-collar program. You put your hard hat on and go to work every day.

“He’s going to have a good opportunity there and an opportunity to put his best foot forward and work.”

The Wolves will now compete at various 7-on-7 and big-man competitions before heading to their camp in July. That will be the team’s final getaway before they dive in to fall practices and open the season in San Diego against Cathedral Catholic.

Other key matchups for Chandler this season include a rematch of last year’s Open Division championship against Saguaro and the gauntlet that is the Premier Region. The Wolves’ game against Basha on Oct. 28 will be featured on ESPN.

It’s one of the tougher schedules in the state, but it’s something the team is prepared for.

Raiola, now without the pressure of his recruitment, said he aims to keep his head down and be the best he can be for his team.

“I think I just have to take it day by day, be myself and trusting what plans God has for me,” Raiola said. “We’re going to get a lot of hype because we’re Chandler. But I think we are going to be really good because of our chemistry and how we treat each other.”