No. 2 Hamilton at No. 1 Mountain Pointe... - East Valley Tribune: Home

No. 2 Hamilton at No. 1 Mountain Pointe...

Here it is: The showdown everyone’s been waiting for. Hamilton is 4-0 but has struggled in its past two games and has various injuries to key players. Mountain Pointe, meanwhile, has been a buzzsaw, beating up nationally ranked Las Vegas Bishop Gorman and cruising past Chandler on its way to a 5-0 start. The Pride won’t have star linebacker/running back Wesley Payne because of a dislocated elbow, but still enters this game as the favorite. Hamilton has the best defensive line in the state, led by standout end Qualen Cunningham, and its championship pedigree should not be discounted. The Huskies’ biggest question mark is their offense. If they can’t move the ball effectively on the ground, it’s going to be very tough to win this game. Mountain Pointe has more explosiveness and rose to the challenge in its first two big matchups. The Pride lost to Hamilton in last year’s title game, but a win here would make them the favorites to capture that title in 2013...

Prediction: Mountain Pointe 20, Hamilton 10

-- Kyle Odegard...

The biggie, and it’ll be jam-packed on both sides’ bleachers. Let’s ignore the past results between these two teams because it has little bearing on this potential outcome, except to say there’s no chance Mountain Pointe is intimidated by Hamilton (which is key because lots of schools are even before they play the game). The Pride lost RB/LB Wesley Payne to injury last week and that’s a big deal for the Pride, but Hamilton (despite the roster numbers) has it worse for the moment with injuries. That’s a big factor here, because Hamilton’s offense wasn’t blowing people away when healthy. Mountain Pointe’s defense can come close to Hamilton’s physicality and size up front, and though the loss of Payne hurts MP on several levels, the Pride were still quite successful both running the ball and defensively against Chandler last week. Hamilton must force Mountain Pointe to drive the length of the field and get a couple turnovers to create extra chances and short fields for its offense. Of course it may happen, but however good you think Hamilton is or isn’t, it’s ludicrous to think a team with this defense and this well-coached is likely to lose by a substantial margin, and the Huskies are big fans of this “underdog” mentality this week (when was the last time Hamilton was considered an underdog against an Arizona school)?  This one goes to Mountain Pointe in pretty close fashion, but if the Huskies are healthier by regular season’s end, all bets are off come possible playoff redux...

Prediction:  Mountain Pointe 20, Hamilton 14

-- Mark Heller

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