Coming away from the Chandler, Peoria Centennial and Gilbert Highland three-team football scrimmage Wednesday night with these three thoughts:

No. 1 Chandler is ready

Chandler senior quarterback Jacob Conover was sharp, tight end/wide receiver Brayden Liebrock looked ready to step into the Gunner Romney role, and DeCarlos Brooks showed off some special cutback moves.

That was all on display in the first 10 plays on Chandler’s perfectly manicured field as the Wolves’ offense went first against Centennial’s first defense.

If a statement can be made in a scrimmage, this is Chandler’s best team since it began to form a dynasty four years ago.

“This team showed that they’re ready to go,” Conover said. “We play in nine days. We leave next Thursday for California (to play Corona Centennial on Aug. 17). I think this is the most prepared we’ve ever been going into a first game. I think we’re ready to play one of the top teams in the country.”


Chandler, Centennial and Highland scrimmaged each other
Richard Obert, azcentral sports

No. 2 Fast defense

Highland got to the scrimmage late and didn’t have a long time to stretch out. It also came without its starting quarterback, whom coach Brock Farrel said was suspended for the scrimmage. Running back Kohner Cullimore picked up good yardage on Highland’s first play against Chandler’s starting defense.

But after that, the Wolves were smothering. Chandler linebacker Javan Ah Quin might not be very big at 5-foot-9, 185 pounds, but he is fast and lays the hammer. He caused a fumble on Highland’s possession and stopped another run for no gain.

No. 3 Jackson ready to emerge

Last year, Centennial didn’t show off tailback Zidane Thomas against Chandler in the scrimmage. This time, coach Richard Taylor didn’t turn running back Tawee Walker loose. But that’s OK because Centennial’s offense looked like it will be in good hands with quarterback Jonathan Morris, who replaces Ruben Beltran, and so many playmakers to go to.

On the first play against Highland’s starting defense, Morris, showing a strong, accurate arm and quick release, hooked up with receiver A.J. Jackson for a touchdown.

Jackson is one of the state’s best overall athletes, a player who can do so much for a team. He punts, returns punts and plays receiver and defensive back.

“I trust (Morris),” Jackson said. “I’ve known J-Mo since the seventh grade. He’s a great quarterback. He’s going somewhere.”


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