In his first season as head football coach, Rick Garretson was tasked with leading Chandler’s transition.
With his leadership and experience, keeping almost everyone from Shaun Aguano’s staff, it ended up being seamless and perfect.
Wolves went 13-0, winning the state’s first Open Division title, ending 4A Scottsdale Saguaro juggernaut’s record six-game title streak.
Chandler went from not being among the top 25 teams in the nation in preseason to being No. 9 nationally by USA Today Sports this week.
Garretson was chosen by The Arizona Republic as Coach of the Year, following his team’s historic run to a fourth consecutive championship and fifth in six years.
It was not easy.
Although he had a strong senior core, Garretson played against 19 underclassmen who were either full-time starters or multi-game starters.
CONTINUED: High School Football 2019 All-Arizona Player of the Year Nominees
“We were a young football team with exceptional leadership,” said Garretson, a former offensive coordinator who kept Shaun Aguano’s staff virtually intact after Aguano left to coach running backs at Arizona State. last year.
As dominant as his team was, stringing together three consecutive 49-0 wins at the end of the season, Wolves found themselves in the fourth quarter for the first time in the last game of the regular season, dragging a deficit of two touchdowns in the last eight minutes to be rival Hamilton 42-38.
They were challenged again in the Open semi-finals, trailing 4A powerhouse Tucson Salpointe Catholic early in the second half, before rebounding with a 24-16 victory.
Then, when it looked like he was about to take a 28-0 lead over Saguaro in the first quarter of the championship game, Saguaro rallied to make it a game, before Garretson called his players off. offensive line and backs Dae Dae Hunter and Eli Sanders to run seven minutes off the clock in the final quarter and hold Saguaro at bay in a 42-35 win.
“Our defense had a stellar season with five shutouts, 66 sacks and 21 interceptions,” Garretson said. “Offensively, we picked up where we left off the last three seasons. Averaged over 50 points and 525 yards on offense in a balanced multi-formation offense.
“Our kids played with a chip on their shoulder and came in every night with a competitive attitude. I’m very proud of their efforts and they truly won Arizona’s first Open Division Championship.”