If you’re the kind of high school football fan that likes lots of scoring, then you’ll love this year’s 6A championship game — regardless of which two of the remaining teams wind up playing for the title.
There are four teams still standing: No 1 seed Mountain Pointe High, No. 3 Chandler High, No. 4 Perry High, and No. 7 Red Mountain High. Each has won two games to get to next week’s semifinals.
As a group, they have totaled 446 points in those eight tournament games. Four hundred…forty-six…in eight games. Let that sink in.
Chandler put 126 points on the scoreboard in its two games, Perry 124, Mountain Pointe 109, and Red Mountain 87. This is not basketball, folks. It just looks like it by the scores.
That championship game on Dec. 2 could resemble an Arena football game. Or worse yet, a runaway video game.
A couple of the quarterfinal games offered a glimpse of the kind of firepower these teams are capable of producing. Chandler ran up 77 points against No. 6-seeded Pinnacle High and Perry hung 72 points on No. 5 Hamilton High.
These were not first-round blow-outs over high seeds, mind you. These basketball-type scores came against teams with respectable seedings.
Chandler’s massive offensive output Friday night against Pinnacle was out of necessity. The Pioneers put up 52 points of their own as the two teams combined for 129 points.
Chandler, playing at home, dug out of a 10-0 hole to lead 14-10 after the first quarter, extended the lead to 42-31 by halftime, and then stretched it to 18 points going into the fourth. The Wolves’ junior quarterback, Jacob Conover, accounted for four of his team’s 11 touchdowns with his passing and senior running back Drake Anderson added five more on the ground. Anderson’s 69-yard TD run on the first play of the second half was the score that broke the back of the Pioneer defense and essentially put the game out of reach.
While scoring became almost a mundane part of the game, there were a couple of highlight-reel memories to take home from the game. The most exciting had to be a 108-yard touchdown run by Gunner Maldanado, when the sophomore safety intercepted a Spencer Rattler pass in the back of the end zone and motored all the way down the sideline for a score that put the Wolves up 56-38.
Rattler, a junior who has committed to play for Oklahoma, contributed five touchdowns and more than 450 total yards of offense.
The most interesting play of the night had to be the fake punt that Chandler ran late in the third quarter, as senior Damien Maxwell surprised the Pinnacle defense by running it in 46 yards for the score.
Chandler, which entered the season as the No. 7 team in the nation, will take the next step on the road to defending its 2016 state championship by playing Mesa’s Red Mountain in the semis next Friday on its home field.
Over in Gilbert, it was an entirely different story. Perry needed only a portion of its 72 points to top Hamilton in a game that was over by halftime. Hamilton scored all of its 14 points in the first quarter and, after back-to-back touchdowns, it looked like the Huskies were going to make a game of it. But they were steamrolled the rest of the way as the Pumas piled up 716 yards of total offense.
Perry’s senior quarterback, Brock Purdy, buried the Huskies in the first half by throwing for four touchdowns and running for two more. He finished the night with 536 yards passing on a 22-for-30 performance, collecting eight touchdowns in all, six of those passing. Those six TD passes set a new single-season 6A state record. He has 48 total, with at least one more game to add even more.
Perry’s junior wide receiver, Colby Dickie, had a career night with seven catches for 198 yards.
Perry finds itself back in the semifinals for a second straight year, this time on the road against top-seeded Mountain Pointe.