SCOTTSDALE – The 7th-seeded Chaparral Firebirds dismantled the visiting 10th-seeded Perry High Pumas, 45-7 in the first round of the Division II state playoffs Friday night at Chaparral High School.
In what was supposed to be a highly contested matchup of two teams with identical 7-3 regular season records, the game was anything but that, as Chaparral just overpowered Perry throughout the duration of the game and was the bigger, stronger, and faster team.
The Firebirds got on the board quickly when senior quarterback Brad Schencker connected with star wide receiver Jake Roh for a 33-yard touchdown. Roh was covered perfectly, but the big, athletic receiver just went up and snatched the ball out of the air, putting Chaparral up 7-0.
“We were just using my size and athleticism to our advantage,” Roh stated after the game. “You know, they just put the ball up there, Schencker made a good throw he stuck in the pocket because he was hit pretty hard on that, he made a great play and then I just went up and got it. I did what I do.”
This was followed by a quick three and out in which the Pumas held the football for less than a minute. Then on Chaparral’s next offensive play, following the 33-yard touchdown pass, Schencker hit wide receiver Jordin Hamilton on a deep go route for a 58-yard touchdown pass, and in a matter of a minute and a half the Firebirds had a 14-point lead.
“Everything’s about tempo and getting off to a fast start, those plays were just huge for us,” Schnecker said of the back-to-back touchdown passes.
The second quarter began right where the first quarter had left off for Chaparral, but this time it was out of the wildcat formation with wide receiver Josh Aganon taking the snap and plunging his way into the end zone from 1-yard out, giving Chaparral a 21-0 lead.
The Pumas rotated quarterbacks all night long between Austin Nightingale and Taelon Parson, but neither was able to get into a rhythm and on their next offensive possession, Parson threw an interception to Firebird defensive back Alex Arnold, one of the defensive stars of the night.
This set up a 38-yard field goal by Chaparral senior Sam McReynolds — his 10th of the year which is good for a new Firebirds’ single-season record.
Up 24 points at halftime and with their defense pitching a shutout, the Firebirds had all the momentum in the game and came out fired up and ready to go in the second half.
The play of the game came on Perry’s first possession of the third quarter when Parson threw another interception, this one was nabbed by Roh from his linebacker position that he returned 78 yards for the score.
After the game, the star of the night, Roh, gave all the credit to his defensive coordinator.
“You know Conrad Hamilton our defensive coordinator is going to put us in the right spots because he’s the best, so really we are just doing what we’re told and the play made itself.”
Chaparral would tack on a couple more touchdowns and Perry would finally score a touchdown when Parson connected with wide receiver Craig Mahaffy for a 64-yard score, but it was far too little far too late for the Pumas.
Chaparral head coach Dave Huffine was pleased with his defense and their play Friday night.
“We did a very good job defensively tonight. We were able to keep them in front making our tackles, and making them go the length of the field,” Huffine said. “Jake Roh was great, he’s a beast, and Alex Arnold made a big interception.”
The 7th-seeded Chaparral Firebirds will now travel to Tempe next Friday to battle the 2nd-seeded Marcos De Niza Padres for a second round playoff game. It has all the makings of a classic with Chaparral thinking payback following the heart-wrenching loss they endured at home to the Padres in Week 2 of the regular season.