Sierra Vista - Long road trips, especially for non-section games that weren't necessarily requested to be scheduled, can sometimes cause the traveling team to approach the task more like a burden than a goal-driven event.
Chandler coach Shaun Aguano saw Friday's trip to Cochise County in a much different manner: a test run for the Wolves' high-profile out-of-state game next week.
“We liked having this game here,” Aguano said following his team's almost effortless 65-13 thumping of Division II Sierra Vista Buena. “We're going to California next week, so this was like a halfway game for us.”
The Wolves (2-0) face national-power Don Bosco Prep (St. Johns) next Saturday.
Chandler scored on all seven of its first-half possessions, getting little resistance from a Buena defense that had allowed 46 points (in a win) the week before against Corona del Sol.
The Wolves' longest first-half drive took 11 plays, while four others required just three snaps or fewer. It was 14-0 before anyone in Buena's sizable fan base could catch their breath, thanks to a 38-yard untouched draw by Bryce Perkins and a 10-yard TD pass from Perkins to Dionte Sykes - who played his first game since suffering a broken hand this summer - while Buena (1-1) had a pair of three-and-outs.
“We knew they were very athletic on both sides of the ball,” Buena coach Ryan Scherling said. “We saw it up-close-and-personal, and they hit us right in the mouth.”
The Colts looked to be trying to make a game of it, though, as they put together a 15-play, 65-yard drive – which included two fourth-down conversions – that was capped by a 5-yard run from tailback Dominique Drake to make it 14-7 in the final minute of the first quarter.
Drake finished with 73 yards on 13 carries.
After getting within one score Buena tried to be sneaky, pooching a kick that Chandler's Kevin McFarland returned to the Colts' 30. Three plays later Chase Lucas scored on an 11-yard run for a 21-7 lead with time still on the clock for the opening period.
Buena's next two possessions were quick ones, again, but this time because of turnovers. Chandler's Jordan Hoyt stripped Buena quarterback Rafael Adames, then recovered the fumble at the Buena 24, and, on the next snap Perkins hit Mitch McCulley for a 24-yard score and a 28-7 lead.
McFarland then intercepted a tipped Adames' pass at the Buena 35 a few plays later, setting up a 13-yard scoring run from Lucas for a 35-7 advantage with 9:04 remaining in the first half.
Perkins hit Sykes for a 9-yard score with 7:11 left in the second, effectively ending the night for him and most of Chandler's offensive starters.
Perkins finished 11 of 13 passing for 130 yards and three TDs, and added 41 yards on three carries.
“We had to make sure we were focused for this one, to make sure that we didn't let the bus ride get to us,” Perkins said. “We had to make sure not to buy into the hype of playing on the road and everyone against us.”
A full set of backups were then inserted, and still moved the ball with ease, going 60 yards in 6 plays with DJ Ware scoring on a 1-yard run to make it 49-7 and start the running clock with 2:57 left in the first half.
“We try to get the ball in the hands of all our athletes,” Aguano said. “It's too bad there's only one ball.”
It was 51-7 at halftime after Buena snapped the ball out of the back of its own end zone for a safety.
Chandler tacked on a pair of third quarter TDs before Buena ended Chandler's unanswered run of 51 points with a fourth quarter TD on a 13-yard pass from Rafael Adames to Bert Sims.
The already decided game took a harrowing turn with 7:13 left in the fourth quarter when Buena sophomore Jacob Valdez suffered an apparent neck injury while making a tackle. After medical personnel attended to him for a few minutes Scherling and Aguano agreed to let the remainder of the clock run out.
Meanwhile, players from Buena and Chandler huddled close to where Valdez lay, praying, while an ambulance drove onto the field.
“That was enough,” Aguano said of the decision to stop the game. “Kids don't deserve to get hurt.”
Chandler 65, Sierra Vista Buena 13
Chandler 21 30 14 0 -- 65
Buena 7 0 0 6 -- 13
First Downs: CHAN 19, BUE 11
Rushing: CHAN 22-273, BUE 22-90
Passing (Comp.-Att.-TD-INT): CHAN 14-18-176-0-3, BUE 13-23-135-1-1
Fumbles-lost: CHAN 0-0, BUE 3-2
Penalties-yards: CHAN 3-30, BUE 4-32
CHAN – Bryce Perkins 38 run (Saul Lucero kick)
CHAN – Dionte Sykes 10 pass from Perkins (Lucero kick)
BUE – Dominique Drake 5 run (Seima Groves kick)
CHAN – Chase Lucas 11 run (Lucero kick)
CHAN – Mitch McCulley 24 pass from Perkins (Lucero kick)
CHAN – Lucas 13 run (Lucero kick)
CHAN – Sykes 6 pass form Perkins (Lucero kick)
CHAN – DJ Ware 1 run (Scott Knutson kick)
CHAN – safety, ball snapped out back of end zone
CHAN – Mason Moran 46 run (Knutson kick)
CHAN – Ware 9 run (Daniel Lubitz kick)
BUE – Bert Sims 13 pass from Rafael Adames (pass failed)