Much will be said and written – mostly in 140 characters by the student bodies of each school – before and after the showdown between Mountain Pointe and Chandler.
Its No. 1 vs. No. 2 in Division I football.
There will be a lot of attention with estimates of close to 8,000, if not more, in attendance about what happens on the field.
It will give some indication as to which team is better in September, but should there be a postseason meeting in the future both teams will be different because of natural progression, possible injuries and adjustments by the coaches.
So before we get into the thick of what to expect in the game or react because of what happened where are a handful of tidbits that have no bearing on the game whatsoever.
1. The two coaches – Chandler’s Shaun Aguano and Mountain Pointe’s Norris Vaughan – gained an appreciation for each other during the offseason when they were both on the coaching staff for the West squad in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio.
2. Both teams have players contributing to the defense that started out at the other school.
Chandler cornerback D.J. Ware was part of a lethal running attack on the Pride’s freshman squad three years ago when Paul Lucas and Brandyn Leonard and Ware were all running wild.
Mountain Pointe nose guard Orlando Carter was a backup for the Wolves last year. He moved to Michigan a bit before heading back to Arizona and the family ended up in the Ahwatukee area.
3. The 2009 season was the start of a something for both of these programs as each team made the semifinals that season.
The Wolves have made the playoffs every year since and got back to the semifinals in 2013.
The Pride have made it at least the semifinals in all but one year (2011, quarterfinals) since and eventually made it the championship game (2012) and got its first ring (2013).
Chandler is one of the oldest programs in the state and has never played in the title game.
Everyone in the program believes this is finally the year the Wolves play for the golden ball using last year’s disappointment to vault the program to the next level.
4. Both play in stadiums named after former coaches.
Mountain Pointe’s facility is named after Karl Kiefer, the coaching legend who started the program and still attends every home game.
Austin Field is home to the Wolves and it is named after W.G. “Bill” Austin, a 30-year teacher and administrator, Chandler High graduate, and 10-year football coach at the school.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Markus Wheaton played three years at Mountain Pointe before playing his senior year at Chandler.
6. In the MaxPreps era – since 2004 – the series between the two schools is 2-2 with Mountain Pointe winning the last two including the odd 28-27 OT game in 2012 that saw three missed chip-shot field goals in the final two seconds of regulation and OT.
Then-sophomore kicker John Abercrombie came off the bench to hit the game-winning extra point but not before having to take a second attempt because Chandler jumped offsides.
He was called to duty after junior Ryan Sheehan, who had the game-winner against Hamilton in the season opener that year and made two against Chandler, missed two chip-shot field goals at the end of regulation (22 yards and 18 yards) after a roughing the kicker call gave him a second chance with no time on the clock.
7. The three top ranked teams in Division I are essentially playing a round robin tournament the next three weeks as Mountain Pointe hosts Chandler this week then the Pride travels to Hamilton on Sept 26. The week after that the Wolves travel to Hamilton.
The games help determine seeding but little else this early in the season. If one of the teams goes 2-0 then it will mostly likely earn the No. 1 seed with the other two possibly falling to the other half of the Division I bracket, meaning a semifinal rematch will be in the offing.
8. This is the second year of a two-year block scheduling system, meaning this spring athletic directors and coaches will have to cobble out a schedule for the next block, which will be a three-year deal in order for Arizona to get on the same time frame as California making it easier to agree to deals with programs from the Golden State.
It will be interesting to see if this game remains on the schedule. Beggars can’t be choosers so it will probably happen.
There are very few teams willing to play either of these programs so they might not have any choice but to play each other in order to fill out the next three years on the schedule.