Picking 5A football champ…the answer isn’t in the stats

    Uncertain about the outcome of tonight’s 5A-II state championship game between
Chaparral HS and Marcos de Niza HS?  That’s to be expected if you’re
trying to pick a winner based on talent; both teams are pretty evenly
matched if you check out the stats.
    Chaparral is averaging 48 points a game in the playoffs behind the running of Dwayne Garrett who has compiled 1,740 yards this season and Cole Tyree
1,295 yards, while quarterback Connor Brewer adds another 1,749 total
yards.  Combine that with a solid defense that is holding opponents to
under 14 points a game.  The Marcos defense is producing similar
results, and its offense features a prolific running and passing game
thanks to its quarterback, Zach Schira (1,955 yards) and his primary target, Justin Rodriguez (779 yards).  The rushing load is spread around, with Ramon Abreu (803 yards) and Anthony Shivers (577 yards) leading the way.
But the X-factor in this game is emotion.  Chaparral comes into the
contest seeking revenge for last year’s failure to win the championship
game and, worse yet, getting blown out, 38-0, by Saguaro HS.  And talk
about something to prove… Marcos has made it to the semi-finals three
of the past four years without getting a shot at the title!
    The Padres also just beat nationally-ranked Centennial HS to get a shot at the title.  How’s that for an emotional high, not to mention a real confidence-builder?
Chaparral came into the season with some serious questions about their
ability to play at the level of years past since they had a new
offensive line and were putting 14 new starters on the field this year.
They were also moving up from 4A-I to 5A-II. But their early-schedule
40-0 rout of then No. 3 Mountain View HS gave them a surge in
confidence that they have been riding ever since that second week of
the season.
    Marcos, meanwhile, got its surge toward the end of
the season when the Padres knocked off Mountain Pointe HS, 26-23, thus
conquering an undeniably strong opponent; the Pride was undefeated at
the time and averaging 330 rushing yards.
    As we make out
selection, we’re also taking into account one other factor that, in
part, deals with emotion: the quarterback.  Connor Brewer has been an
outstanding performer this year, but he’s still a sophomore – and this
is probably the biggest challenge he’s faced.  Schira has also put up
the gaudy numbers this years – and he’s a senior. 
    It doesn’t
make any difference what level of football, the quarterback dictates
the tempo of the game and instills the confidence in everyone else on
the field.  Both quarterbacks in this contest are poised and confident,
but two years at the high school level is a significant difference in
maturity and the ability to handle pressure.
    So, although the
smart money appears to be on the perennial powerhouse Chaparral, we
think the Padres have more incentive to remove the monkey from their
back now that it has finally reached the title game. 
Chaparral enters the game with an experienced and potent backfield, a
huge offensive line, and one of the fastest defenses in the state. 
Marcos prides itself on its defense and its ability to hold down
opponents’ scoring, while also generating 33 points a game.
    That’s the tale of the tape.  But we’re going with emotion and looking for the upset:
    Marcos de Niza by three points.