Defensive coordinator Thurman Moore put the defensive players through a grueling conditioning workout, maneuvering through an obstacle course of sorts, that included bear crawls, right off the bat.
From there, the offense came out, putting the numbers over 160. And the Wolves were off.
This could be the greatest Chandler football team ever assembled with key transfers J.W. Windsor, a defensive lineman from Chandler Basha; and center Vinny Vitale and wide receiver N’Keal Harry from Tempe Marcos de Niza.
Offensive lineman Riley Pollard, a legit 6-foot-3, and 330 pounds, moved in from Australia, where he was brought up in rugby but carries a burning football passion.
The offense is led by quarterback Bryce Perkins and running back Chase Lucas, who keyed last year’s first victory in school history over Chandler Hamilton, before Hamilton edged Chandler in the Division I semifinals.
The talent is off the charts, but Moore implored that it takes “heart” to make this a special team.
There is motivation.
“Last year left a little salty taste in our mouths,” Perkins said. “We can’t wait to get back out here, get back to the work, get back to the grind.”
Coach Shaun Aguano has made it clear to everyone, even Perkins, that nobody’s job is safe. The competition will be fierce. Perkins will be pushed at quarterback by Mason Moran, who will play safety on defense.
“We have competition where if someone isn’t doing very good, we have someone else who can come in and replace you,” Perkins said. “It keeps you on your toes, keeps everybody playing at the best of their abilities.”
Aguano said there are at least five running backs who could make an impact.
And even though most of the defense has to be replaced, this defense could be faster, more physical and more athletic than the one that was the key to last year’s break-through win against Hamilton.
The key is having Moore as defensive coordinator. He has close to 30 years experience at the college and NFL level.
When he came in last year, Chandler’s defense suddenly got better. Moore is as good as there is in the high school ranks at getting the most out of his defenders.
“Our emphasis is on finishing plays,” Aguano said. “We want to get their legs right. The first couple of days (of spring ball) is going to be tough on them.