Chandler makes statement in blowout win over San Diego’s Cathedral Catholic - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler makes statement in blowout win over San Diego’s Cathedral Catholic

September 3rd, 2022
Chandler makes statement in blowout win over San Diego’s Cathedral Catholic
Sports and Recreation

By Zach Alvira, Sports Editor

Chandler’s football team heard the outside noise all off-season after their loss to Saguaro in last year’s Open Division State Championship.

They were told they would never be the same. They were told they lost too much talent. They were told they were no longer top dog in the state, let alone the Chandler district.

So, the Wolves responded.

And that included a 63-7 trouncing over Cathedral Catholic, one of southern California’s top high school football programs, in the Honor Bowl Friday night.

“This was a business trip for us,” Chandler coach Rick Garretson said. “We were coming with a specific goal.”

Chandler’s first drive ended in a punt. The only one of the night.

The Wolves went on to score on nine of their 10 possessions. The only other drive that didn’t result in a touchdown was an interception thrown by junior quarterback Dylan Raiola in the second quarter. Raiola owned the mistake and made up for it by completing 15 of his 18 pass attempts for 253 yards (unofficially) and three touchdowns. He also rushed for a touchdown late in the first quarter.

His night ended after three quarters, when Chandler’s lead was 49-7 and he had connected with junior tight end Kaden Anderson twice and junior running back Destin Johnson on a 78-yard pass he made look effortless while on the run.

Raiola, an Ohio State commit, entered the season as the consensus top prospect in the nation for the 2024 class. And he proved it Friday night to the tune of an “overrated” chant from the Cathedral Catholic student section after one of his two incompletions.

“I just try to train at such a high level that when I come out here, I try to make it look easy,” Raiola said. “It’s really just my guys getting open, getting off routes, getting off guys. I’m just super proud of them and what they did.”

Chandler’s offense moved effortlessly down the field. If it wasn’t Raiola, it was senior running back Ca’lil Valentine gashing defenders. He carried the ball 16 times for (unofficially) 112 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught two passes for 56 yards, the longest a halfback screen he took down to inside the Cathedral Catholic 5-yard line to set up Raiola’s 1-yard plunge.

The Wolves fired on all cylinders in their first official game together. Their wideouts are young. Their star quarterback still has a full season ahead of him and another after that to continue meshing with his new team.

And they have a defense that, aside from penalties that assisted the Dons, nearly pitched a shutout against one of California’s best. Senior defensive tackle A’Mauri Washington played a big role in that Friday night.

He was dominant. And it fueled the rest of his teammates to be just as dominant behind him.

“Just come out with energy and show the love I have for this game,” said senior defensive tackle A’Mauri Washington, who was virtually unblockable and announced his commitment to Oregon after the win. “There was no need to dance around. Let’s get this over with now.”

It was the type of showing Chandler needed. It was the type of showing Arizona needed as a state that is overlooked in the high school football world countless numbers of times. And it came on the same day Red Mountain knocked off another defending California state champion in Mater Dei Catholic out of San Diego.

Overall, it was the statement Chandler was looking to make.

“We wanted to play as hard as we could, do things we knew we were capable of, display an offense that’s powerful, an offense that can strike anywhere on the field and our defense was superb,” Garretson said. “We gotta get away from the penalties. Their best offense was penalties.

“I’m really proud of our physicality, but we work at that everyday … it comes up on the good side of a ‘W’ here tonight.”