Chandler v. Corona del Sol

It was a high scoring showdown at Austin Field in Chandler as undefeated Corona del Sol took their unblemished record to Chandler to face the Wolves of Chandler High.

This non-conference match up proved to be an offensive highlight reel, with the biggest difference being turnovers. Corona took advantage of SIX Chandler turnovers, the last one being a fumble by Chandler's Bryce Lamb, snuffing any hope of a victory for the Wolves.


Both teams came out fired up with Chandler showing off its offense first. Junior quarterback Kyle Yount found Markus Wheaton for a 14 yard gain on an out pass to get things going. Yount also found Chase Rice across the middle for a 10 yard gain, Wheaton again for 11 yards, and Caleve Deboskie for 8 yards - all on the opening drive. Chandler went to the ground game when Wheaton took a hand off for 6 yards and power back Jamil Hines pitched in for small gains up the middle. It was another Yount to Deboskie 16 yard pass that set up a first and goal from the two yard line where Bryce Lamb took a hand off up the gut for the touch down. With 8:00 left in the first quarter The Wolves were up 7 – 0.


Corona answered right back with an impressive ground attack - the bulk of which displayed the deceptively fast and shifty Michael Lange. Lange took the kick off 20 yards to set up first and 10 for CDS on their 26. It was running back by committee at first with Lange getting 11 yards, Derek Maisel 3 yards, and Evan Althiede for 7 and 4 yard gains. Then Lange broke open a big run and took a hand off 60 yards to the three yard line setting up 1st and goal from the three. Chandler's defensive line couldn't stop the run as Althiede scored a touchdown from three yards out to tie things up at seven a piece.


Chandler's first mistake came on the next drive when Yount dropped back to pass on third and 10. Althiede snatched a sloppy pass out of the air giving CDS excellent field position and it didn't take the Aztecs long to capitalize. Lange went back to work with a 25 yard run and just like the first drive Althiede finished off the effort with a 3 yard blast into the end zone. Just like that the Aztecs had their first lead 14 – 7 after the made P.A.T. With 3:13 left in the first quarter CDS had yet to complete a pass – but didn't need to.


Chandler decided to display a ground game of its own with Jamil Hines getting the carries on Chandler's next drive. Hines moved the chains once, before Vince Bonanno got to Chandler QB Yount for a sack and loss of yardage. Yount must have been a bit rattled as his next pass attempt went incomplete intended for Deboskie and his next pass after that being his second interception – this time it was Corona's Ryan Nolan with the grab. At the end of the first quarter Corona had good field position and was looking to capitalize off of Chandler's mistake. But Chandler's Rodney Reagans had different plans when he sacked Corona QB Chase Cartwright on a double reverse pitch back to the QB that took too much time. This left Corona with 4th and long and they were forced to punt.


After a holding penalty pushed them back to their own 13 yard line, on 1st and 20 Yount found Wheaton on a screen pass that went for six yards. Time for another big play – Bryce Lamb went in motion and streaked down the right sideline, he made a nice catch and ran for what amounted to an 81 yard touchdown with the YAC. P.A.T. good and the teams were tied 14 – 14 with 9:15 left in the half.


Corona went back to the ground and made some noise but their drive stalled after a penalty, some solid D from Chandler, and an incomplete pass. They punted the ball away and after a small return Chandler had its best starting field position of the night on its own 41 yard line. After a hand off and a quick out pass that both went for little-to-no gain (solid tackles from Corona's Althiede) Yount fired a pass to Deboskie over the middle. The ball went off his finger tips and right into the waiting arms of Corona LB Tyler Giannonatti who then sped up field getting pushed out of bounds at the 15 yard line. It proved to be another costly turnover for Chandler. Despite a false start penalty on Corona it was all Michael Lange on the short drive with the last one being a hand off from three yards out. With 3:33 left in the half Chandler was now up 21 – 14.


Most teams would be content to play it safe, run the ball, and get to the locker room after so many turnovers in the first half…but not Chandler. They got the ball on the 28 yard line after a 22 yard Wheaton kick-off return. Hines went 12 yard up the gut but fumbled the ball, after a scramble for the pigskin Chandler ended up recovering the ball and it yielded a 24 yard gain. Yount then lobbed a pass down the Chandler side line where Deboskie made a beautiful one handed grab. He was pushed out of bounds at the one yard line that set up a Bryce Lamb hand off right up the middle for the TD. In less than a minute the Wolves had responded and tied the game. Corona ended the half with a decent drive that ended in a missed field goal from 32 yards out. The teams would head to the locker room tied at 21.


Chandler's defense must have heard a good pep talk as they forced a Corona three and out to start the second half. After a shanked punt, Chandler took over on there own 40 and gave it to Hines who powered forward for 12 yards. Wheaton and Hines exchanged a couple of short yardage gains on the ground before Hines went for 15 yards between the tackles to set up 1st and 10 at the 13 yard line. Some confusion took place after what appeared to be a 14 yard touchdown pass to Wheaton was waved off by the officials. The apparent penalty (on Corona) would prove costly, because on the next play Yount zipped a ball into traffic and Corona's Ryan Nolan got his second interception in the end zone thwarting Chandler's scoring drive.


It was back to the ground and the Michael Lange show for Corona. The OC kept things fresh with a nice Chase Cartwright pass to Kirby Pellant that went for 25 yards. Lange followed up with runs of 14 and 5 yards to set up 1st and goal on the 9. Lange plowed into the Chandler line and reached the end zone again to give the Aztecs the lead for good. With 4:18 left in the 3rd quarter the visitors were up 28-21.


With the third quarter winding down Chandler wasn't done just yet.  Wheaton had another good kick off return to the 40 yard line to give the Wolves some hope. Hines took a hand off eight yards but came up limp. His replacement Taylor Walstad took the next two carries and moved the chains. Then it was Wheatons turn, he took a pitch 36 yards to the 13 yard line. Lamb went 4 yards on the hand off and a pass interference call on Corona set up 1st and goal on the 4 yard line with only seconds left in the quarter. Walstad took the hand off and muscled forward for the four yard touchdown run, however Chandler would have their point after kick blocked (by Michael Lange) leaving them one point short of knotting the game up.   28 – 27 Aztecs.


On the ensuing kickoff return, Kyle Benson had a nice return to the 40 yard line and was hit out of bounds. After the 15 yard personal foul was assessed Corona would start the 4th quarter 1st and 10 on Chandler's 45 yard line. Chandler just couldn't give the Aztecs that kind of field position and expect to win. On the second play from scrimmage, Cartwright's pass found a leaping Tunstall on a pass that would have looked great on replay – DB Jeremy Morris had great coverage – Tunstall just made a great catch for 27 yards. Once again it was all Lange with carries of 9 yards, 2 yards, and 9 yards again with the last batch ending in the end zone. The Aztecs made their P.A.T. and with 10:12 left to play they were up 35 – 27.


Chandler wouldn't go down easy, but all night long they were their own worst enemies and the last two drives would show the same.  Not to be outdone on the highlight reel, Jeremy Morris had an amazing catch at midfield that fired up the crowd. The drive continued downfield with Chandler reaching the 33 yard line only to be faced with a long 4th and 13. They went for it only to see Yount throw another pick to Corona's Althiede.  Chandler's defense forced Corona to punt the ball away with 3:17 left to play. But on the last drive Wheaton fumbled and the Aztecs recovered to run out the clock and keep their winning streak alive.


Final Thoughts:


If not for the errors by Chandler's offense this game might have gone the other way, you just can't win ball games when you turn the ball over that many times and give your defense a short field. Then again, Chandler's defense didn't look like it had an answer for Coronas potent ground attack no matter the distance. This was a very entertaining game between two solid teams. Corona is a well coached team that doesn't make many mistakes. Chandler has some real athletes and talent on both sides of the ball. Game balls go to Hines, Wheaton, and Deboskie on offense for Chandler. On D Reagans and Morris looked real sharp. For Corona Lange and Althiede were the stars pitching in on O and D and Giannonatti had a solid night on D.            

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