football coach Jim Ewan has heard the question many times. Fourteen times.
His only answer thus far has been: "Hopefully, this year."
The question? When are you going to beat rival
In 13 previous tries the Wolves have come up short — some of them epics, some of them routs, but all of them losses.
Some would say this is not a rivalry because Chandler has never won, but the crowds, the emotions and the hype (Friday's game will be televised on ESPNU) suggest otherwise.
"These last couple of years I really thought we were going to get them and I think we'll get them this year,” said Ewan before flashing his trademark good humor. "Statistically, the odds get better and better for us."
Both squads are loaded with talent, but the discussion for Chandler starts with UCLA-bound quarterback Brett Hundley
while the Hamilton conversation starts with Texas-bound offensive tackle Christian Westerman
"Christian is humble – I think that would wrap him up in a nutshell," Hamilton coach Steve Belles said. "He doesn't crave media, he doesn't say much, he doesn't get too high or too low. He just oozes confidence. When he looks across the line at that other guy, it's as if to say, 'It's you against me and you're not going to get where you want to go.'"
Hundley is used to going wherever he wants. In five games, the state's top quarterback already has 1,365 passing yards and 14 touchdowns, while rushing for 487 yards and three more scores.
He's had monster games against Hamilton, but it's never been enough because the Chandler defense has never been able to shut Hamilton down. That will be difficult against a Huskies offensive line that some observers feel is the best the state has ever seen. Chandler has been a sack-happy machine this season, putting up a whopping 12 against Mesa two weeks ago, but don't expect that to happen Friday.
"I'm not concerned with that matchup. I think our offensive line is better than their defensive line," Belles said. "What concerns me is they've got some great team speed, they've got a couple good receivers and, of course, they have Brett. He's a difference-maker. You can't just stop one thing. If you stop the run he throws. If you stop the pass he runs. He's going to be a tough bird to cage."
Ewan is counting on it.
"It may just be one of those situations where we have to outscore them to take some pressure off of our defense," he said. "The good thing is, we have some other people contributing besides Junior (Hundley). We have to have other people contributing if we're going to win."OTHER TOP STORYLINES FROM THE WEEK2. Saguaro falls to Cactus: Saguaro (Scottsdale)
looked comfortable heading into a monumental showdown with No.1 Canyon del Oro (Oro Valley) this week. The Sabercats had a 21-0 lead on defending 4A-II champion Cactus (Glendale)
and were poised for a rout. But the Cobras’ fast-paced offense exposed Saguaro as poorly conditioned late in the game. Cactus quarterback Deke Cisco scored three rushing touchdowns, two on fourth down and one in overtime to give Division II another marquee win over a Division I power.3. 5A-II's elite are best collection in any class:
Four years ago, this would have been blasphemy. Today, it's clear that no conference can boast a top four as potent as Chaparral (Scottsdale)
, Centennial (Peoria)
, Marcos de Niza (Tempe)
and Perry (Gilbert)
. All four have already beaten 5A-I playoff teams this season and Chaparral could very well be the best team in the state with Centennial and Marcos also in the top five.4. Brophy in trouble:
It started with a shocking upset loss to unranked St. Mary's (Phoenix). Now Brophy College Prep (Phoenix)
, once a state power, has lost three straight and faces undefeated No. 4 Red Mountain (Mesa) this week and has No. 1 Hamilton in three weeks. The young Broncos showed improvement in a loss to Chandler last week, but if they’re not careful, they could miss the playoffs.5. Show Low self-reports recruiting violation:
The Arizona Republic reported Saturday that Show Low
has self-reported a violation of recruiting rules to the Arizona Interscholastic Association. Show Low athletic director Nathan Richardson filed the report on Sept. 15, a day before a hearing in which Show Low accused Blue Ridge (Lakeside) of violating the same rule involving Jordan Morgan, a senior defensive back/running back who transferred to Blue Ridge, Show Low's biggest rival.
Blue Ridge was cleared at that hearing. Following an investigation by the school, Show Low Superintendent Kevin Brackney wrote a letter of reprimand to Paul Wyatt, the school board president, for a conversation Wyatt had with Bill Morgan, Jordan's father. In the report Wyatt insisted his offer to help the Morgans wasn't athletically motivated.THE FAB FIVE1. Davonte Neal, Jr., WR/CB, Chaparral:
Had two punt returns for touchdowns, an interception return for a TD and a touchdown catch in a 68-13 victory over Phoenix North Canyon.2. Brett Hundley, Sr., QB, Chandler:
Hundley was 21-for-35 passing for 301 yards and four touchdowns through the air. He also ran for 90 yards in a win over Brophy.3. Dimitri O'Brien, Jr., RB, Valley Lutheran (Phoenix):
Scored half of his team's points in a 44-20 win over Salome. He rushed 16 times for 210 yards and 3 touchdowns and completed his only pass attempt for a 77-yard score.4. Jonathan Brown, Jr., QB, Apollo (Glendale):
Threw for four touchdowns and ran for two in 43-0 rout of Phoenix Thunderbird.5. Kyren Poe, Sr., QB, Hamilton:
Took 11 carries, 108 yards and two touchdowns; 10-for-23 passing, 153 yards, two touchdowns in a win over Phoenix Desert Vista.5 GAMES TO WATCH5A-I – No. 1 Hamilton (6-0) at No. 5 Chandler (4-1), Friday, 7 p.m., ESPNU:
The best 5A-I teams in the state lock horns on national television. Arrive early. The parking at Chandler High's Austin Field is tricky and limited.5A-II: No. 1 Chaparral (5-0) at No. 4 Perry (Gilbert) (5-0), Friday, 7 p.m.:
The defending state champ, and maybe Arizona's best team in any classification, visits the upstart Pumas, who opened eyes last week with a 48-0 shellacking of a very good Mesa Westwood (5A-I) team. Chaparral's Davonte' Neal is easily the state's most exciting junior.4A-I: No. 1 Canyon del Oro (Tucson) (5-0) at No. 3 Saguaro (3-1), Friday, 7 p.m.:
These teams have combined to win the last four 4A-I state championships. Some of the luster from this game was lost when Saguaro fell to defending 4A-II champ Cactus in overtime last week, but not much. Saguaro is banged up and could be without as many as seven players while CDO star running back Ka'deem Carey
, who has committed to Arizona, is expected to return after missing the past two games with a sprained ankle.3A: No. 8 Fountain Hills at No. 2 Show Low, Friday, 7 p.m.:
Don't let it be said that Fountain Hills is ducking tough games because it doesn't have to play in the White Mountains. The Falcons already ended Wickenburg's 43-game regular season winning streak and faced off with No. 4 Florence. Now they face the No. 1 contender to Blue Ridge's throne up in those White Mountains.1A: No. 4 Bagdad at No. 2 Mogollon (Heber), Friday, 7 p.m.:
Two of 8-man football's best square off when the Mustangs host the Sultans. The teams met in last year's semifinals with Mogollon prevailing.CRAIG'S CRANIUM
Just daydreaming here, but wouldn’t it be nice if we could fast forward to that six-classification plan one year early in football?
To review, the Arizona Interscholastic Association voted this summer to reduce the number of classes in football from seven to six for the 2011 season. Cost was a major factor. Staging all those state tournaments is expensive, especially when so many school districts are facing budget crises with the state’s economy in shambles.
But competition was another factor. AIA Executive Director Harold Slemmer believed – as do we – that having seven classes watered down the competition and allowed mediocre teams to earn state playoff bids. In the current format, almost half the teams in each class make the playoffs. That’s too many.
Better yet, when football does finally go to a six-class format, we’ll be able to see more dream matchups that won’t materialize this year. How much fun would it be to watch defending 5A-II champ Chaparral square off with defending 5A-I champ Hamilton? Or defending 4A-I champ Canyon del Oro face defending 4A-II champ Cactus?
Sigh. We’ll have to wait a year. It just doesn’t seem fair. Craig Morgan is a freelance writer who has covered professional, college and high school sports in the Phoenix area for the past 18 years. He currently serves as the Phoenix correspondent for CBSSports.com, covering the Arizona Cardinals and other local teams. He also writes a weekly column and other features for The Arizona Republic. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.