CHANDLER, Ariz. (BVM) – There aren’t many elite high school prospects who have been surrounded by the football pedigree that Dylan Raiola has.
It started at birth as his father, Dominic, became one of the best lineman in University of Nebraska history where he won the Rimington Trophy (best center in college football) as a junior in 2000 before having his No. 54 Cornhuskers jersey retired. He was a second-round pick by the Detroit Lions in the 2001 NFL Draft who went on to play his entire 14-year career with the franchise.
One of the quarterbacks Dominic protected during his tenure in Detroit was Jon Kitna who became the first QB in franchise history to take every snap in a single season (2006). Dominic and Kitna remained friends following their respective retirements from the NFL, so much so that when Kitna became the head football coach at Burleson High School (TX) in 2020, Dominic knew who he wanted his son to play for.
Under Kitna’s leadership, Dylan had a remarkable sophomore season where he threw for 3,243 yards and 42 touchdowns. The result has been a No. 1 ranking in the Class of 2024 by 247Sports.
“He (Dylan) understands what a 4i, a 2i and a 5-technique is,” Chandler High School (AZ) head coach Rick Garretson said. “He understands those things and the way you understand those things is if you’re taught. His dad laid that foundation for him and he’s got that nice relationship with his pops.”
Yoooo here is a look at the NEW No. 1 player in the Class of 2024 according to @247Sports.
Chandler's (AZ) @RaiolaDylan GOT THAT SAUCE!
Dude can make every throw in the book.
— Zack Poff (@Zack_Poff_MP) April 6, 2022
Garretson knows plenty about Dylan even though the five-star QB hasn’t played a snap for the Wolves just yet.
Dylan was originally supposed to attend Chandler, but with his sister playing volleyball at nearby TCU and Kitna at Burleson, the family moved to Dallas. Garretson said he got wind that the Raiolas were planning a return to Arizona during the Wolves’ quest for a sixth consecutive state championship and in January, Dylan officially enrolled at Chandler.
At 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, Dylan brings immense skill and leadership to an already uber-talented squad.
“He’s a physical specimen,” Garretson said of Dylan. “He’s got a really high football IQ and he’s special; there’s no doubt. He hasn’t played a down for us yet but it doesn’t take long to figure out that he has a skill level that you don’t see.
“He brings that skillset to the table and when you talk about everything else, leadership is probably the best thing about what he does and that’s just a wow.”
Dylan’s ascension becomes even more impressive when you realize that he’s only played quarterback for two years. Most people wouldn’t be able to tell when considering the schools that have offered him a football scholarship: Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, Oregon and more.
Despite the rapid climb up national rankings and offers from college football powerhouses, Dylan has stayed grounded and blocked out the noise.
“He’s just a guy who’s got his head on right,” Garretson said of Dylan. “He’s a total reflection of his parents and how he’s been raised. He keeps things in perspective, understands work ethic and you earn what you get. He’s just a pleasure to be around.”
Dylan will unquestionably be a key cog in the Wolves’ hopeful return to the top.
Chandler has lost just seven games since 2016 and it won five consecutive state championships (the last two coming under Garretson) before falling in the Open Division championship game to Saguaro last season.
The slogan for this program which has competed for state titles year in and year out is simple for the upcoming season: 2022Reset.
“We’re a program that, winning championships is what we’ve done,” Garretson said. “We came up short last year and didn’t finish the job so there’s a lot of unfinished business in that sense.”
One matchup that will certainly be circled on calendars across the state of Arizona is Sept. 23 for a rematch of that Open Division Final. Chandler and Saguaro will meet again for a showcase of two of the premier high school football programs in the country.
“You want to promote Arizona football and I think that game will be a national game, having the ball club he (Saguaro head coach Jason Mohns) has and having the team that we’ll have,” Garretson said. “If you play with the big dogs, you have to play each other. It should be a fun night of 6A football in the state of Arizona.”
Garretson admits the Wolves will be a relatively young team this season for the exception of an offensive line that returns four starters from last season’s strong unit. Calil Valentine will be back to lead the offensive skill group after he accumulated 721 all-purpose yards and seven total touchdowns as a sophomore.
On the other side of the ball, four-star defensive lineman Amauri Washington – who holds offers from Auburn, Florida State, Michigan, Ohio State and more – will lead the Wolves’ defensive front.
Despite a bevy of talent littered throughout the roster, all eyes will be on the top recruit in the Class of 2024 when Chandler kicks off on Sept. 2 at Cathedral Catholic. Dylan’s high football IQ, mental toughness and overall ability will be tested as the Wolves aim to claim their sixth state title in seven years.
“Our quarterbacks are definitely the guy who’s in control of the offense; I’ve always taught it like that,” Garretson said. “He’s (Dylan) got the keys and he’s the guy in charge of everything with protections, communication and the passing game but he lives for it. That kid lives for it on a daily basis.”