GLENDALE - Some coaches would have hesitated.
It was pretty clear that Desert Vista did no such thing in going for it on 4th-and-goal from the 1 on its opening possession.
Many would have taken the field goal, settled for the early momentum and set the defense out there.
Instead Desert Vista went for it, Jarek Hilgers followed the blocks as the offensive line collapsed the Hamilton defensive front and set the tone in a big way in the Thunder's 45-19 win for the Division I state championship.
"We had extreme confidence that we were going to get the job done," Desert Vista coach Dan Hinds said. "If we don't score, they take over on the 1 and our defense would do the job but we don't have to worry about it."
Senior fullback Mike Arredondo said the call had the huddle fired up.
"When the coaches said go for it we knew they had our backs and that we could get the job done," he said. "The offensive line did their part and we got it done."
The final score doesn't really indicate a third-down conversion just before halftime would be that big of a play, but Hunter Rodriguez understands that he made a big-time throw.
Desert Vista led 21-7 and faced a 3rd-down-and-12 from the Desert Vista 31 with just under 4 minutes remaining in the game.
A punt, presumably, gives Hamilton a chance to close within a score before the half.
Instead Rodriguez connected with Matt Young on an out route for 21 yards for a first down into Hamilton territory.
"That was huge because we had a chance to keep the clock running," said Rodriguez, who finished 13 of 23 for 177 yards. "The offensive line gave me great protection and we got it done."
The drive ended with an interception but the clock was already eaten up and Hamilton just took a knee before the half.
The game started with Desert Vista's Ryan Wagner taking the opening kick off back 45 yards to give the team great field position to start.
"They guys did a great job of blocking and getting me that hole," Wagner said. "I wanted to take it all the way back but didn't get that final cut."
A group of special education students from Mountain Pointe got a chance to take the field and play some flag football against a group from Marcos de Niza as part of the Arizona Interscholastic Association's recent agreement with the Arizona Special Olympics.
The interception Matt Young took back for a touchdown, unofficially, was the eighth of the season, for the Thunder.
While all our important during a course of a season this one put the three-time defending champions in a 14-0 deficit from the start.
"Lorenzo Melvin threw a great block to get me in the clear," said Young, who has played more defensive back since the injury to cornerback Matt Smith. "I knew I had to score there."
It gives the team 17 interception on the season and according Young it left them one off the school record.
Hamilton quarterback Blake Kemp said the surroundings in the pocket got to him a little bit.
"I panicked and threw a ball I shouldn't have," he said. "I should have taken the sack."
Seeing (Cardinal) red
While he spent five years a punter for the then-Phoenix Cardinals, Desert Vista special teams coach Rich Camarillo never actually played inside the confines of University of Phoenix Stadium, which was built well after his career had completed.
Even still, he must have felt comfortable by the Cardinals' red, white and black color scheme throughout the stadium as his son, Thunder senior punter Eric Camarillo, took the field for Saturday's Division I state championship.
The irony, however: Desert Vista's offense was so potent - gaining 20 first downs and converting eight times on third down - that the younger Camarillo never punted against Hamilton. Camarillo, who started at the position for Desert Vista for three seasons, finished his senior campaign with 20 punts -including six inside the 20 - and average of 41.43 yards-yards per kick.
It's been well chronicled that Rodriguez and Camarillo were key contributors for the Ahwatukee Little League "Dawgs" on the team's run to Williamsport, Pa., and the Little League World Series in 2006, the duo also shared the field with another former Little League World Series participant.
Luke Parrish, a junior linebacker for Hamilton, started for the 2007 Chandler National Little League team that ended up representing Arizona and the West in Williamsport the year after Ahwatukee's run.
Desert Vista's 21-0 outburst to start the game marked the seventh time this season that the Thunder have began a game with a three-touchdown lead.
Inversely, this was the first time since 2004 that Hamilton trailed by as many as 21 points.
While the 45 points the Thunder scored was the most ever given up by a Hamilton varsity team, the Huskies hadn't trailed by that much since a 2004 midseason outing against Highland - a game Hamilton lost 37-15.
Similarly to Desert Vista's rematch victory Saturday, Hamilton went on to win the rematch with Highland in the state semifinals that season, only to go on to defeat 16-seed Glendale Mountain Ridge (coached by current Hamilton coach Steve Belles) for Hamilton's second state championship.
Perhaps it's possible that the Desert Vista marching band passed along a bit of its good mojo to its football brethren after winning its second consecutive state marching championship just two weeks ago Saturday.
The band was on hand Saturday, performing before for the University of Phoenix crowd before Saturday's game - trampolines, xylophones, and all - while also taking their place on the Thunder side of the stadium near the south end zone. And it was near the band that Desert Vista head coach Dan Hinds was carried to on his players shoulders, postgame, as the Thunder fight song (a cover of the Notre Dame fight song) was played.
Desert Vista coach Dan Hinds picked up his third title, winning one in 1980 as a player for McClintock, as an assistant for the Thunder in 1998 and now his first as a head coach. "It's hard to put it all into words," he said. "The thousands of hours we put in this together as coaches and players. Amazing." ... This was the school's first state title in any sport since the track team won in the spring of 2009. .... The 184 yards rushing gave the Thunder 3,044 yards on the year and is believed to come up short of the school record by about 30 yards.
Brett Fera contributed to this story.
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