Never mind the fact Hamilton already led by 28 points in a game it would eventually win 42-14. When Westwood quarterback Brice Wilkins threw for a consolation touchdown in the third quarter of his team’s semifinal loss to the Huskies last week, it was the first time all year someone had breached the goal line against every player on Hamilton’s first-string defense.
Opposing teams have averaged just 8.6 points per game against the Huskies. Of the 112 points scored against Hamilton, 88 have come in the fourth quarter when starters like Gerald Munns and Dontay Moch were chilling on the sideline.
In the three biggest defensive tests of the season, the Huskies gave up 14 points to Highland (32.2 points per game), eight points to Phoenix Maryvale (40.7 ppg) and 14 points to Westwood (36.3 ppg). Twenty-two of those 36 points came in the final period.
"Once we get on the field, we go all out to make sure no one scores on us," Moch said. "We want to be the topranked defense ever."
That would be quite an accomplishment at Hamilton, where defensive coordinator Manny Palomarez has taken advantage of a wealth of talent to forge top-notch defenses since the school opened.
The Xs and Os of the defense are simple. Hamilton runs a 4-2-5 defense in which the fifth defensive back (this year it’s 6-foot-2, 210-pound junior Colin Parker) is more of a linebacker, who lines up wherever Palomarez sees fit.
"Don’t get me wrong," Palomarez said. "I make bad calls and they save my butt by making great plays. They’re good enough to adjust and make tackles."
That’s not a surprise considering the roster has so much talent that at one point Hamilton was short four defensive starters and didn’t miss a beat.
Munns and fellow linebacker Matt Sanford have both reached the 100-tackle mark. Moch has 12 sacks, while linemen Brian Dean and John Hershberger each have seven. Defensive backs Josh Luck, Andy Workman and Clark Lamb have created their share of turnovers.
The stars of the unit are Moch, an end, and Munns, a middle linebacker. Both are listed at 6-foot-3, 225 pounds.
Moch began last season as a defensive back but soon moved to the defensive line where he had 11 sacks. He has already verbally committed to play linebacker at Nevada-Reno next fall.
In the spring, Moch won the 200-meter dash at the 5A state championship track meet. His speed was obvious last week when he ran down both Wilkins and running back Jay Leal — neither of whom would be a slouch on the track — from the opposite side of the field.
"A lot of times we don’t even have to blitz," Munns said. "We can keep seven back (in pass coverage) and it’s like someone’s blitzing anyway."
Munns is not just the defense’s most physical player. He’s also the brains of the operation. After the opposing team lines up, it is Munns’ responsibility to get his teammates in position by adjusting fronts and coverages.
Munns has scheduled official visits to San Diego State and Boise State and anticipates also visiting Utah and Northwestern before deciding where to play collegiately.
It is Munns’ combination of brains and brawn that led Palomarez to call him the best linebacker ever to play at Hamilton. The right mix of mental and physical skill also helps set apart Hamilton’s defense from other high school units.
"They understand it," Palomarez said. "Sometimes (players who are just) athletes run around a lot and don’t know what they’re doing. These guys are athletic and smart so they don’t get out of their lanes. They make the plays."