Posted on November 14, 2013 8:16 am by 

Chandler Basha gets a chance at redemption, and leading the way is the guy who wants nothing more than to prove he can break through Chandler’s defense.

Senior quarterback Zach Werlinger will  try to make amends Friday night when the Bears (6-5) travel to play No.2-seed Chandler (9-2) in the Division I football quarterfinals.

Three weeks ago, in a 49-7 loss to Chandler, Werlinger was held to fewer than 100 passing yards, did not throw a touchdown pass and was intercepted twice.

It came two weeks after Werlinger injured his throwing hand in a 32-31 loss to Hamilton, in which he had  one of his best games, rushing for two fourth-quarter touchdowns and passing for more than 300 yards and two scores.

Zach Werlinger

Zach Werlinger


Werlinger’s hand isn’t bothering him now.

That was evident last week when he completed 27 of 41 passes for 467 yards and three TDs and drove Basha for the game-winning field goal with 19 seconds left in a 43-42 victory at seventh-seed Phoenix Horizon.

“He’s such a warrior,” coach Bernie Busken said. “It doesn’t enter his mind (an injury).”

Busken put together a five-minute highlight tape just of Werlinger’s game against Hamilton to send to college recruiters.

Even though the 6-foot-2, 185-pound Werlinger has a 4.6 grade-point average and has passed for 3,119 yards and 25 TDs with nine interceptions, he doesn’t have a single scholarship offer from a four-year college.

It astounds Busken, a former college coach, who tries to tell any college coach he can find that Werlinger is the toughest quarterback mentally that he has ever coached. And that includes former Mesa Mountain View star John Beck, who quarterbacked in the NFL.

“If you watch that right there, I mean it doesn’t get any better than playing against Hamilton’s defense,” Busken said. “It’s just frustrating, because whoever takes him is going to absolutely crap at how good he really is.

“He’s poised. He’s got arm strength. He understands what we’re doing. And he’s taken some shots. And he gets up and back to  the huddle and gets us going. And he’s an absolutely wonderful kid. He’ll do everything you can think of. And when you get him on the field, he’s going to start for you.”

Werlinger, who takes honors courses and is the leader of an academics club at the schools, takes it in strides.

More important it leading Basha deeper into the state playoffs.

Everything else will come in time.

“I try to play really hard during the season and hopefully it will take care of itself at the end,” Werlinger said. “That’s always been my approach.”

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Zach Werlinger, Basha (pictured): 453 yards, 3 TD

Emanuel Gant, Tempe: 451 yards, 5 TD

John Clark, Mountain View: 329 yards, 4 TD

Brian Lewerke, Pinnacle: 321 yards, 6 TD

Dalton Sneed, Horizon: 299 yards, 3 TD

Tyler Bloom, Higley: 261 yards, 2 TD

Antonio Hinojosa, Mountain Pointe: 180 yards, 3 TD



Taren Morrison, Desert Ridge: 283 yards, 3 TD

Luke Quinn, Horizon: 187 yards, 3 TD

Ryan Velez, Brophy: 185 yards, 2 TD

Josh Hoekstra, Pinnacle: 179 yards, 2 TD

Tyler Whiley, Chaparral: 173 yards, TD (3 rec. TD)

Rajhan Meriwether, Basha: 152 yards, 3 TD

Antonio Campanella, Seton Catholic: 138 yards, 4 TD

Isaiah Brittain, Tempe Prep: 121 yards, 2 TD

Wesley Payne, Mountain Pointe: 113 yards, 2 TD

Justin Irby, Desert Ridge: 101 yards, 2 TD

Mason Johnson, Higley: 91 yards, 2 TD



Jalen Brown, Mountain Pointe: 130 yards, 3 TD

N’Keal Harry, Marcos de Niza: 127 yards

Rajhan Meriwether, Basha: 122 yards, TD

Ryan Robertson, Basha: 113 yards, TD

Joe Storm, Basha: 113 yards

Daniel Galindo, Pinnacle: 110 yards

Elijah Williams, Hamilton: 108 yards, TD

Nick Colson, Higley: 107 yards

Doc O’Connor, Basha: 105 yards, TD



Cade Thompson, Basha: GW 29-yard FG

Josh Eckley, Marcos de Niza: 338 yards passing, 2 TD; 103 yards rushing, 2 TD

Luke Rubenzer, Saguaro: 256 yards passing, 6 TD; 151 yards rushing, TD

Christian Kirk, Saguaro: 232 yards rushing, 2 TD; 68 yards receiving, 2 TD

Bryce Perkins, Chandler: 249 yards passing, 3 TD; 50 yards rushing, 2 TD

Clark Brown, Mountain View: 195 total yards, TD

Hamilton defense: 3 safeties, 16 total yards allowed

Qualen Cunningham, Hamilton: 4 sacks; single-season school record 17 sacks

Tempe Prep defense: Shutout, 16 yards allowed in first half vs. Northwest Christian

Morris Kroma, Hamilton: 65-yard punt return for TD

Erick Belcher, Campo Verde: 42-yard INT return for TD; 20-yard TD rec.

Ryan Velez, Brophy (pictured): 94-yard KO return for TD

Isaiah Oliver, Brophy: 42-yard TD rec.; GW pass defended

Red Mountain defense: 253 yards allowed, 7 points allowed, 3 forced TO

By Richard Obertazcentral sportsFri Nov 8, 2013 10:26 PM

A sack near the end of the first half moved Chandler Basha just far enough for Cade Thompson to see his 42-yard field-goal try bounce off the crossbar as time expired.

This time, quarterback Zach Werlinger moved his team in the final 2:24 from his 24 to the Phoenix Horizon 8, giving Thompson a chip-shot, 26-yard field goal to win it.

No. 10 Basha’s 43-42 victory over host and No. 7 Horizon moves it into next week’s Division I quarterfinals.

“It wasn’t really outside my range,” Thompson said about the 42-yarder. “I hit it wrong. I felt bad about it. But my coaches trusted me. My teammates trusted me. It was awesome.”

With Horizon junior quarterback Dalton Sneed throwing three first-half touchdown passes, helping hist team to 35-34 halftime lead, Horizon’s fast-paced, dynamic offense sputtered in the second half.

Horizon (8-3) scored its only touchdown on a Luke Quinn 32-yard touchdown run with 4:53 left. He bounced off a defender and sprinted into the end zone to give his team a 42-40 lead. It came after Werlinger was intercepted deep in Horizon territory.

Horizon elected not to go for two to try to take a three-point lead at that point and took the extra point.

Werlinger rallied Basha (6-5) all night, from the moment his first pass got intercepted to the final drive that was aided by a pass-interference penalty.

After overthrowing his target on fourth down, Basha’s defense gave Werlinger one more chance to do something.

Werlinger completed a 14-yard pass to Ryan Robertson. Horizon was called for pass interference on third and 10, putting the ball on the Horizon 39.

Werlinger ran 10 yards following a 10-yard completion to Justin Wheaton.

Two strong runs by Rajhan Meriweather (who had four first-half touchdowns) moved the ball to the 8. Werlinger took a 1-yard loss to center the ball for Thompson’s winning kid.

With 14 seconds left, from its 36, Horizon ran out of big plays.

“There were three of them (interceptions) that could have really cost my team,” Werlinger said. “They played really hard with me and we were able to do it when it really mattered the most. It was a lot of fun.”

Werlinger passed for 125 yards and a touchdown in the final quarter. Werlinger threw TD passes of 72 yards to Meriweather and 59 yards to Doc O’Connor in the first half.”

“We weren’t going to get down,” Basha coach Bernie Busken said. “We knew we had a job  to do. Horizon’s offense does a really good job. Our job was to score points.”

Posted: Friday, November 8, 2013 12:05 am | Updated: 11:18 am, Sun Nov 10, 2013.

By Chris Gabel, Tribune

As Basha amassed nearly unfathomable yardage totals Friday night, the one thing looming over the Bears, threatening to cast for naught nearly 700 yards of offense, was a missed extra point midway through the second quarter.

Cade Thompson sailed that extra point wide in the midst of a back-and-forth track meet at Horizon, and then came up a yard short on a 42-yard field goal attempt just before halftime.

Those two shortcomings made the junior’s 29-yard field goal with 19 seconds remaining that much sweeter. The kick gave the 10th-seeded Bears a 43-42 victory over No. 7 Horizon in the first round of the Division I playoffs and sent Basha to a quarterfinals meeting with city-rival and second-seeded Chandler next Friday.

“We were down two points because of the kicking game,” said the 5-foot-8, 140-pound Thompson, who doesn’t look much like a football player in his pads and uniform, let alone without them. “My teammates told me at halftime not to worry about it, that I would hit the game-winner. Sure enough, with 19 seconds left. All kickers dream about this. … It’s nerve-wracking but it’s awesome.”

Basha went for the two-point conversion following a touchdown early in the fourth quarter to get back that missed extra point, but came up short then as well. It left the Bears down 42-40 after the third touchdown of the night from Horizon’s Luke Quinn, and the Huskies’ decision not to go for two and the possible three-point lead.

Basha started its final possession at its own 24-yard line with 2 minutes, 24 seconds left. Zach Werlinger, who threw for 453 yards and three touchdowns but also three interceptions, guided his team to the Horizon 8 — aided by a pass-interference penalty along the way — and took a 1-yard loss to center the ball for Thompson.

“I’m real proud of Cade. We were able to get him an opportunity to win it and he came through,” said Werlinger, who completed 27 passes in 46 attempts. “We’ve lost a lot of close ones and I’m going to enjoy this one tonight.”

Basha lost a pair of games by a combined four points in the second half of the season, which dropped it to a double-digit seed for the playoffs. That only made for a great matchup with the explosive Huskies.

“We anticipated it was going to be a shootout so we had to answer with big plays every time they scored,” Werlinger said.

The Bears and Huskies traded haymakers in the first half, when they were on pace for more than 1,400 combined yards, and went into the locker room with Horizon holding a 35-34 lead thanks to that missed extra point.

“You always worry about that coming back to bite you,” Basha coach Bernie Busken said. “… But it was nice for (Thompson) to be able to make up for that.”

Thompson was in that position thanks to 274 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns from running back Rajhan Meriwether and 113 receiving yards each from Ryan Robertson and Joe Storm. For Storm, all of his catches came in the second half.

For Horizon, which has not advanced past the first round since 2006, Quinn finished with 187 rushing yards and junior quarterback Dalton Sneed threw for 299 yards and ran for another 51. The Huskies, though, registered just seven points in the second half.

“It was just broken down plays in key situations,” Horizon coach Kris Heavner said. “In the first half we executed. Nothing changed (in the second half). It was just broken down plays. “… I was just hoping our defense would rise to the occasion. All our kids work hard and I was just hoping to put them in a spot to win, and unfortunately Basha made more plays than we did. That’s what it came down to.”

Basha 43, Horizon 42

Basha    14 20 0 9 — 43

Horizon 21 14 0 7 — 42

H — McLaurin 29 pass from Sneed (McAtamney kick), 10:40

B — Meriwether 72 pass from Werlinger (Thompson kick), 10:23

H — McLaurin 1 run (McAtamney kick), 4:47

B — Meriwether 2 run (Thompson kick), 2:22

H — Robinson 61 pass from Sneed (McAtamney kick), 1:00

B — Meriwether 2 run (Thompson kick), 10:57

B — Meriwether 8 run (Thompson kick), 8:07

H — Quinn 2 run (McAtamney kick), 4:54

B — O’Connor 59 pass from Werlinger (kick failed), 3:55

H — Quinn 23 pass from Sneed (McAtamney kick), 3:16

B — Robertson 17 pass from Werlinger (pass failed), 10:31

H — Quinn 32 run (McAtamney kick), 4:53

B — Thompson 29 FG, 0:19

First downs: B 31, H 22

Rushing:  B 42-224, H 30-258

Passing (Comp.-Att.-Yards-TD-INT):  B  28-47-462-3, H: 23-34-299-1

Fumbles-Lost:  B 1-0, H 3-2

Penalties-Yards:  B 6-43, H 8-80

RUSHING — Basha: Meriwether 26-152, Werlinger 12-57, Welsh 1-6, Storm 1-4, Robertson 1-3, O’Connor 1-2. Horizon: Quinn 11-187, Sneed 14-51, McLaurin 3-17, Marciniak 2-3.

PASSING — Basha: Werlinger 27-48-3-453, O’Connor 1-1-0-9. Horizon: Sneed 23-34-1-299.

RECEIVING — Basha: Meriwether 5-122, Storm 7-113, Robertson 10-113, O’Connor 5-105, Gibson 1-9. Horizon: McLaurin 5-68, Robinson 1-61, Quinn 7-60, McCarthy 4-58, Marciniak 5-52.

Contact writer: (480) 898-6549 or

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Posted: Saturday, September 28, 2013 12:33 am | Updated: 12:52 am, Sat Sep 28, 2013.

By Chris Gabel, Tribune | 0 comments

Basha coach Bernie Busken and Westview counterpart Jeff Bowen watched the same game Friday night. The only difference was they were on opposite sidelines at Basha.

Yet the two had very different takes on No. 4 Westview’s 38-28 victory over the No. 6 Bears.

“We left 21-31 points on the field,” Busken said after his team’s feverish fourth-quarter rally came up short. “We didn’t do some things that we normally do. Not only do you have to play hard but you have to play smart as well. We can’t leave points on the field like that. A lot of things we just left on the field.”

Bowen, whose team moved to 5-0 and is one of just three left undefeated in Division I, took the stance that the final score was not indicative of by how much the Knights outplayed Basha.

“I think our kids dominated,” Bowen said. “Everyone talks about us as a Cinderella-type team and it’s not that situation at all. People can talk about David and Goliath all they want but we don’t look at it that way and I think that showed tonight.

“All we ever hear about is how Westview has to go play on the East side and can they step up to the challenge. We’ve been doing it for years but we don’t get a lot of that play. Other than two turnovers, we dominated the football game.”

The statistics tend to back up Bowen — that is not to say Busken is wrong, as his team certainly had the opportunity to score more points. The Knights outrushed Basha by more than 400 yards and held a 150-yard advantage in total yards through three quarters. Westview appeared in complete control midway through the fourth quarter and on the verge of running out the clock.

But a pair of fumbles gave the Bears (3-2) an opening and they reached the end zone both times to cut Westview’s once-17-point lead to three, 31-28, with four minutes to play. Basha then came up with the stop it needed but could not capitalize again as four straight passes — none an easy catch — went off a receiver’s hands near midfield.

Jalen Johnson put the dagger in the Bears in the final minute with his fourth touchdown to cap a 258-yard night.

“They were giving us some stuff that we could take advantage of with Jalen,” Bowen said, “and Jalen is a heck of a back. All the backs ran hard.”

Westview amassed 460 rushing yards on 53 carries and finished with 564 total yards to Basha’s 499.

“They’re really good at doing what they do,” Busken said. “They have an excellent scheme and good blocking up front. But wasn’t it funny how when we scored a time or two how jacked up our defense got then we stopped them.”

The Bears’ Zach Werlinger threw for 374 yards but two Basha first-half drives fizzled inside the red zone both ended with missed field goals. The Bears also turned the ball over on downs at the Westview 5-yard line early in the fourth.

“So we have to play better all the time; both sides of the ball, we have to play better,” Busken said.

Jared Schmidt, Joe Storm and Doc O’Connor each eclipsed 100 receiving yards for Basha, and O’Connor and Schmidt connected for an 80-yard halfback pass on the first play from scrimmage.


Westview 7 17 7 7 — 38

Basha 7 7 0 14 — 28

First Quarter

B — Schmidt 80 pass from O’Connor (Thompson kick), 11:42

W — Johnson 2 run (Lucio kick), 6:53

Second Quarter

W — Burks 24 pass from Provchy (Lucio kick), 9:00

W — Johnson 8 run (Lucio kick), 3:11

B — Conrad 2 run (Thompson kick), 0:42

W — Lucio 26 FG, 0:00

Third Quarter

W — Johnson 3 run (Lucio kick), 0:53

Fourth Quarter

B — Storm 37 pass from Werlinger (Thompson kick), 5:47

B — Werlinger 1 run (Thompson kick), 4:22

W — Johnson 18 run (Lucio kick), 0:57


W, B

First downs 29, 23

Rushing 53-460, 18-45

Passing 6-14-0-104, 26-49-0-454

Fumbles-Lost 3-2,0-0

Penalties-Yards 8-79, 5-55


RUSHING — Westview: Johnson 23-258, Provchy 9-84, Washington 8-52, Bowles 4-40, Travis 8-34, Mitchell 1-(-8). Basha: Conrad 6-26, O’Connor 1-14, Werlinger 11-5.

PASSING — Westview: Provchy 6-12-0-104, Sullivan 0-1-0-0, Washington 0-1-0-0. Basha: Werlinger 25-48-0-374, O’Connor 1-1-0-80.

RECEIVING — Westview: Johnson 2-39, Travis 2-37, Burks 1-24, Washington 1-4. Basha: Schmidt 6-124, Storm 7-120, O’Connor 6-107, Yamamoto 4-75, Nall 1-10, Robertson 1-9, Hoewing 1-9.

Contact writer: (480) 898-6549 or

6. Basha (3-1)


Basha picked up a nice victory this week with a 35-21 victory over Pinnacle. Quarterback Zach Werlinger threw for 396 yards as the Bears went predominantly through the air without tailback Rajhan Meriwether. Wide receivers Doc O’Connor and Jared Schmidt were both over 140 yards receiving in the contest. The Bears moved up one spot in the rankings. Basha has another big test this week against No. 4 Westview.

By Lindsey FeraSpecial for azcentral sportsFri Sep 20, 2013 11:59 PM

Chandler Basha coach Bernie Busken knew a week ago that his team would be without star running back Rajhan Meriwether in Friday’s Division I matchup against Phoenix Pinnacle.

Busken, instead, focused his team and quarterback Zach Werlinger on the passing game, led to Basha’s 35-21 win over visiting Pinnacle.

“(Meriwether) went out after the first four plays last week, so we knew,” Busken said. “Zach’s a stud and the linemen have been playing (well). This is a great win for us.”

Trailing 21-9 at the break, Pinnacle (2-2) had moments in the second half where it tried to shift the momentum but ultimately was unable to do so.

“There were a lot of mistakes on our part,” Pinnacle coach Dana Zupke said. “We had bad decision making and penalties. We had a lot of drive-killers tonight. It wasn’t what we expected.”

Pinnacle had a scare with under 10 minutes to go in the game when lineman Harris Scoville was injured, writhing uncontrollably on the field.

“He had a chronic back injury so it was a re-injury,” Zupke said of Scoville, who left the game on a stretcher in an ambulance. “It’s muscle. His structure is fine, and he’s going to be fine. He’s just in a lot of pain.”

When play resumed, Basha (3-1) scored on a fourth-and-1 play on a carry by Cody Conrad to take a 28-14 lead with 9:16 remaining in the game.

Pinnacle made it a one-touchdown game on 7-yard touchdown run by Josh Hoekstra at 7:34 to narrow the Basha lead to 28-21.

However, Basha sealed the win when Werlinger threw into traffic to Jared Schmidt for a 21-yard touchdown with just under six minutes remaining.

Werlinger completed 31 of 49 pass attempts for 391 yards with a pair of touchdowns and one interception.

Brian Lewerke completed 14 of 33 passes for 225 yards while adding 16 carries for 97 yards.

Posted: Saturday, September 21, 2013 12:01 am | Updated: 1:10 am, Sat Sep 21, 2013.

By Kyle Odegard, Tribune | 0 comments

Basha quarterback Zach Werlinger knows it’s impossible for a football team to throw the ball 100 percent of the time on offense.

Don’t let that get back to coach Bernie Busken. He may just try it.

The No. 7 Bears made no bones about their strategy on Friday night as Werlinger completed 31-of-49 passes for 396 yards and two touchdowns in a 35-21 win over No. 6 Pinnacle in a Division I football matchup.

Werlinger had 35 attempts at halftime as Basha went almost exclusively to the air early on without the services of running back Rajhan Meriwether (injury). Werlinger avoided turning the ball over and the offensive line kept him mostly upright as Basha responded to every Pioneers’ push.

“We thought if we could block them we could get open,” Busken said. “Zach’s a stud and the linemen have been playing well. No (worries) at all (throwing that much).”

Doc O’Connor had 15 catches for 159 yards while Jared Schmidt added six for 146 and a touchdown. Basha ran the ball 33 times for only 78 yards — much of those coming late to milk the clock — but threw it so well it didn’t matter.

“We knew going into it we wanted to get in a rhythm through the air early,” Werlinger said. “We were able to get some momentum.”

Basha led 21-9 at intermission but Pinnacle threatened multiple times in the second half. A field goal and a safety cut the deficit to 21-14, and Pinnacle looked like it might force a punt on third down early in the fourth quarter. However, Werlinger found Jared Schmidt for a 70-yard pass play, which set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Cody Conrad on a fourth-and-goal with 9:16 remaining for a two-touchdown advantage.

The Pioneers (2-2) pulled to within 28-21 on a 7-yard touchdown run by Josh Hoekstra, but again the Bears responded when Werlinger hit Smith on a 22-yard scoring pass. Pinnacle drove down the field again but Pinnacle quarterback Brian Lewerke fumbled and Basha recovered with 4:25 to go to seal the victory.

“I said before the game the team that plays with less mistakes was going to win this game,” Pinnacle coach Dana Zupke said. “That was definitely not us tonight.”

Lewerke finished 14-of-33 for 231 yards and a touchdown and added 106 yards on the ground. Wide receiver Daniel Galindo had eight catches for 153 yards and a score but star running back Josh Hoekstra was held to just 20 carries for 45 yards and one touchdown.

Pinnacle defensive lineman Harris Scoville was taken off in an ambulance in the fourth quarter after hurting his back, but Zupke said it was precautionary and he should be fine.

Basha 35, Pinnacle 21

Pinnacle 6 3 5 7 – 21

Basha 7 14 0 14 – 35

First Downs: Pinnacle 19, Basha 23

Rushing: Pinnacle 36-151; Basha 33-78

Passing (Comp-Att-Yards-TD-Int): Pinnacle 14-33-231-0-0; Basha 31-49-396-2-1

Fumbles-Lost: Pinnacle 2-2; Basha 0-0

Penalties-Yards: Pinnacle 8-62; Basha 8-79


P – Galindo 67 pass from Lewerke, kick failed

B – Robertson 6 pass from Werlinger, Thompson kick

B – Thompson 23 FG

B – Thompson 37 FG

P – Sweet 27 FG

B – Conrad 2 run, Schmidt from Werlinger

P – Sweet 31 FG

P – Safety on step out of bounds

B – Conrad 1 run, Thompson kick

P – Hoekstra 7 run

B – Schmidt 22 pass from Werlinger, Thompson kick

Reach Kyle Odegard at (480) 898-6834 or Follow his blog at, or find him on Twitter @Kyle_Odegard

Basha vs. Pinnacle Preview   «« Click Here

By Nathan MeachamSpecial for azcentral sportsThu Sep 12, 2013 11:23 PM

Chandler Basha found a way to complete deep passes while Laveen Cesar Chavez fell behind throwing deep interceptions during Basha’s 54-28 victory in a Divison I non-section game Thursday night in Chandler.

Basha (2-1) pulled away from a 7-7 tie with early in the second quarter with a 26-0 run before halftime, highlighted by a 61-yard touchdown pass from senior Zach Werlinger to junior Doc O’Connor. Cesar Chavez quarterback Ivan Jones went the other direction, throwing three interceptions in the quarter.

Werlinger finished with 247 yards passing and four touchdowns, two of them to O’Connor. Jones had a game of his own, passing for more than 275 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for another score, accounting for all of Cesar Chavez’s points.

“Once we get a few going we feel like nobody can stop us, which should be our mentality,”Werlinger said.

The second quarter for Cesar Chavez (0-3) could be summed up with Basha’s last drive of the first half. Basha had the ball on its own 30-yard line when Cesar Chavez committed two personal foul penalties and another unsportsmanlike conduct to move the ball to its 15-yard line. Basha kicked a field goal for a 33-7 halftime lead.

“They couldn’t cover us, and all we had to do was get the ball there,” Basha coach Bernie Busken said.

Werlinger had six different receivers in the game, and all four of his touchdown passes were from at least 13 yards out. He completed 19 of his 35 passes, compared with 22 completions on 48 pass attempts for Jones.

“It gets pretty tough from here on for us,” Busken said. “We have to really get better.’