VX Game of the Week: Hamilton at Chandler - East Valley Tribune: VarsityXtra

VX Game of the Week: Hamilton at Chandler

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Posted: Thursday, October 3, 2013 2:17 pm

The stat stares squarely at Chandler's psyche: 0 for 17.

One of these meetings, temporary bragging rights will move further north on Arizona Ave. Perhaps this is the meeting.

Besides the Chandler mayor Jay Tibshraeny wearing the winning school's polo shirt during the next Chandler City Council meeting, there might be a bigger prize if these Wolves break through.

"Maybe we'll have the kids come in at 9 a.m. on Saturday (instead of 7 a.m.)," Wolves coach Shaun Aguano said.

After all, Chandler is (relatively) healthy, explosive on offense, has what it feels is the best defensive line in several years, and been tested (win and lose) against top-tier competition heading into this week's matchup with Hamilton.

The latter - scheduling games against Peoria Centennial, St. John Bosco (Calif.) and Mountain Pointe during the "freedom" portion of the slate - wasn't specifically done because of Hamilton. But the Huskies are part of Chandler's bigger picture.

"I wanted to play a very rough schedule to be battle tested for Hamilton for psychological standpoint," Aguano said. "We have a young team so wanted to make sure we knew exactly what we needed to work on and fix come the end of the season.

"I wanted to get punched in the mouth and see how we reacted; then, in playing Hamilton, we've already played some tough teams."

Translation: Ending this 0-for-existence streak against Hamilton might be a bigger deal to the players and students more than anyone else, but it would also affirm Chandler can beat other elite teams in Div. I after being pushed around by Mountain Pointe, 38-14, two weeks ago. While that game followed an awkward week of preparation and late travel back from California threw a wrench in Chandler's preparation, facing two or three "elite" teams consecutively will be a necessity come playoff time.

Mountain Pointe result being a notable exception, such scenarios of scheduling and results have worked out in Chandler's favor a few times.

Things haven't worked out quite the same recently for Hamilton, which also felt the wrath of Mountain Pointe's speed and size in losing to the Pride last week. Big plays allowed on defense (a 70-yard touchdown run by Paul Lucas) and on special teams (a 98-yard kickoff return by Lucas) left the Huskies smarting.

But Hamilton deemed itself healthier than the past couple weeks (though still without top offensive lineman Casey Tucker and kicker/receiver Brandon Krcilek).

Similar to Chandler, Hamilton is in the roughest stretch of its schedule with Pinnacle, Liberty (Nev.), Mountain Pointe, Chandler and then Basha (next week).

Defense has still shown to be the strength of the Huskies, while the offense has struggled at times without a consistent "vertical" threat the Huskies have enjoyed most seasons. Special teams has been problematic the past few weeks, a notion almost unheard of at Hamilton.

"We’re a lot more healthy than a week ago," Huskies coach Steve Belles said. "We know we have to get some things done in the next couple weeks. I think there’s a sense of urgency against good teams and that’s kind of where we are."

Noting his team ran 20 more plays than Mountain Pointe, Elijah Williams returned last week after missing time with a concussion, and most of Hamilton's tight ends who've been out with injuries are also expected to return.

Should Hamilton and Mountain Pointe - or even Hamilton and Chandler - meet again in November, the Huskies are hoping time and a full deck of a roster are on their side for the second time around.

"We know, it’s not rocket science," Belles said. "(Mountain Pointe) is good but if we do things right I think we have a huge amount of space for improvement from where we are now to where we want to be at the end of the year."

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[Stats Courtesy of MaxPreps]