When it comes to regular season games, this is perhaps the biggest and most anticipated in Arizona high school football history.
Chandler vs. Hamilton. The nationally ranked # 10 team (MaxPreps) vs. the nation’s # 15 team.
Fans may want to arrive early to sneak into Hamilton Stadium for the 7 p.m. showdown.
Let’s break it down and predict the winner.
Coaches Chandler (9-0) and Hamilton (9-0) came to SoHo63 in Chandler on Tuesday with key players from each team for the annual Battle for Arizona Avenue luncheon.
As expected, when emcee Brad Cesmat interviewed the two head coaches, Chandler’s Rick Garretson and Mike Zdebski were rather low-key, careful with their words, complimenting each other on the schedule and not providing any ammunition.
Both coaches downplayed the importance, only calling it week 10 (for big schools).
It’s the open division playoff that really matters. And it feels like they’re on an Open title collision course again.
Last year, Chandler clinched a 23-21 victory over Hamilton for his fifth straight state title, second in a row in the eight-team Open that pits the top teams from the three Grandeschool conferences against each other. others after the regular season. plays.
Without a doubt, the winner of this game gets the # 1 seed and the loser the # 2 seed.
âWe have to control what we can control for 48 minutes,â Zdebski said. “Focus on our self-discipline for 48 minutes. That’s the whole key to the game.”
It feels like it’s Hamilton’s turn to reassert itself in the rivalry. After winning the first 13 games between schools, Hamilton has not beaten Chandler since the 2013 season.
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But Zdebski, in a few years, will bring Hamilton back to where he once was. All that’s missing is one victory over Chandler.
Chandler hasn’t dominated during the regular season like Chandler’s teams the past five seasons. But he’s been able to find that extra equipment in the fourth quarter of games in the last three games on defense to win close games.
âIt’s a culture of winning,â Garretson said. âWe have excellent defense and the offense is ahead.
“We thought at the start of the season that they would be a defensive-led team. That’s what they did.”
Perhaps the two best defensive fronts in the state will tackle it. Hamilton is led by defensive end Russell Davis II, who set a school record in one game in losing tackles with 22.5, including 13 sacks. Defensive back Dawson Hubbard is a tank, stuffing the running game in the middle.
Chandler got a huge acquisition in 6-foot-4, 295-pound junior defensive tackle A’mauri Washington, who moved from Detroit. He blocked two punts, including one picked up by defensive lineman Jacob Holmes who set Wolves on fire in the final quarter in a 26-7 win over Queen Creek. Arizona-bound defensive lineman Isaiah Johnson is among the leaders on the defensive front.
Chandler didn’t have that home run like last year with Eli Sanders and two years ago with Dae Dae Hunter.
The Wolves main forward has transferred Anyale Velazquez with 399 yards in four games since becoming eligible.
The young offensive line is still in the process of finding itself. But he cannot yet develop this late in the season against a strong and polished Hamilton defensive front.
Hamilton found his mojo in this miracle last-minute comeback against Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas, overcoming a 17-point deficit to win 25-24 behind two successful kicks from Jacob Medina and Nicco Marchiol TD passing to tight end Michael Masunas and running back Nick Switzer, followed by a two-point conversion run.
Marchiol has been on another level this season. He’s only been intercepted once and he threw a school record of 32 touchdown passes.
Two years ago, in the last game of the regular season, Chandler made up for a two touchdown deficit, then stopped his 2 in the dying moments to hang on to a 42-38 victory.
It’s hard to say if this 24th meeting between the rivals will be another classic. But I think it’s time for Hamilton to break through under Zdebski.
Prediction: Hamilton 28, Chandler 24
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