If there was any hope of some team derailing Chandler High‘s run to a sixth straight state football championship, last week’s Chandler victory over Colorado’s Cherry Creek HS, brought reality back into focus.
The Colorado power, one of the most dominant programs in the Rocky Mountain state, came into that game undefeated and had yet to be scored upon in two games this season. They were riding a 25-game winning streak that began back in 2018 and included back-to-back state titles.
But Chandler came out on top of a defensive battle that held the big, physical Bruins to a single touchdown. The Wolves’ defense stifled the Cherry Creek offense in the 17-7 home victory, creating five turnovers and taking away both the run game and the passing attack.
Yes, Chandler managed just 17 points, but it played this game without its starting quarterback, Blaine Hipa, who was too sick to play. However, his replacement, Ethan Moore, kept the Wolves’ offense from missing a beat. The transfer from San Diego threw for 203 yards on 20-of-25 passing.
That’s a key to Chandler’s continued success. The Wolves are deep with talent at very position.
Chandler schedules out-of-state games each season, looking for tough competition early to prepare them for the rest of the season’s schedule. The Wolves haven’t been beaten in 38 straight games, a winning streak that stretches back to the first month of the 2017 season.
The Wolves are aiming for their sixth straight state championship, three in the state’s top 6A conference and the last two in the newly-formed Open Division, which includes eight of the best teams from across the top three conferences in head-to-head competition.
Occasionally, we are reminded that Chandler football isn’t invincible. Last season, for example, Liberty High School, which was a No. 5 seed in the state tournament, took the Wolves into overtime in the semifinal game and failed on a two-point conversion in the OT period to fall, 35-34.
And, oh yeah, there was that time in 2018 when Chandler needed to convert a two-point try, again in overtime, to beat Highland High School. But those kind of games are few and far between.
There are eight more teams on the 2021 schedule ready to try their hand at breaking the Chandler win streak. And that includes a Sept. 24 game with Liberty, which has been waiting a year to take another shot at the Wolves, and Hamilton High, which lost to the Wolves in the 2020 Open Division championship game.
The game with cross-town foe Hamilton, Chandler’s long-time biggest rival, is the final game on the schedule. Tomorrow night the Huskies will get their test on the national stage, taking on Bishop Gorman HS (Las Vegas), which is ranked in the top 10 nationally.
That game, which will be shown on the ESPN network, will give us some idea as to whether the Huskies have a chance to become the team that finally takes down the Wolves. The odds will be against them; Chandler has won 44 straight games against Arizona teams.
Sooner or later, however, there will be a team good enough to get the job done.
Whether it’s this season is the question right now.