The football team from Santa Fe High loaded up the buses and hit the road from Southern California’s Santa Fe Springs to Chandler this week, looking to kick off its 2011 season in style and possibly take a bite out of the king of all Arizona football programs: three-time defending state champion Hamilton.
And while Santa Fe coaches had nothing but pleasantries to say about the hospitality they received prior to the actual game itself, it seems likely that the Chiefs won’t have the same positive feelings about the game – one that Hamilton swallowed up with ease, 52-0.
“I really like where we’re going, because we have so much room for growth,” said Hamilton coach Steve Belles. “That’s what makes it fun. The kids we had last year, we knew where they were – with that offensive line. They knew where they were going to be. But this year, it’s fun to see what our kids figure out what they can do.”
Whether it was taking the opening kickoff 68 yards and scoring just a few plays later, or notching a school-record 97-yard interception return early in the second quarter, or a third-quarter safety followed immediately by a 75-yard touchdown return on the ensuing kick, Hamilton (2-0) seemingly found every which way and then some to score Friday night.
Kendyl Taylor had the best statistical night of any Hamilton player, although favorable field position and a desire to spread the ball around while compounding its lead – nine Huskies in all registered carries – kept any individual nights from getting out of hand. Taylor was the player who took the opening kickoff 68 yards, returned a punt later for 53 yards, hauled in four catches for 50 yards, and carried the ball twice for 36 yards including a 32-yard touchdown late in the first half.
“It was still a learning experience,” said Taylor, a Washington commit. “We didn’t drop down to their level. We kept our level of play up … even with a blowout.”
A week after scoring just 17 points while racking up more than 400 yards of total offense, the Huskies needed less than 300 to top 50. Marcus Jones led all Hamilton ball carriers with 60 yards on seven carries, while Taylor, quarterback Blake Kemp, and running backs Reggie Rayford, Clayton Stanchik, Marcus Jones and Frankie Felix each scored rushing touchdowns. Felix also added the 75-yard kick return for a score, while Cole Luke halted a Santa Fe drive that was closing in on the red zone by picking off Chiefs quarterback Christian Mahlstede and heading back up field 97 yards for the score. A safety early in the third rounded out the scoring.
Hamilton – playing its second game of the season after breaking the big school state record for consecutive wins at 41 in a 17-7 win over Mountain Pointe a week earlier – knows full well what it’s like to spend much of its offseason planning for the increasingly-common out-of-state road trip. In years past, the Huskies have trekked to Ohio and Florida; next year, it’ll be a jaunt across the pond to Ireland. But the Huskies have never been on either side of one like this, not first-hand at least.
Santa Fe (0-1) struggled all night to move the ball, rushing for minus-6 yards as a team on 19 carries. Mahlstede did his best to move outside the pocket, but got knocked out of the game on a near safety late in the first half. Mahlstede appeared to injure his shoulder on the play and did not return.
Just like Hamilton in years past, and Santa Fe on this night, the Huskies' next foe has learned a thing or two about taking the ultimate road trip. Notre Dame will host the Huskies next week at Scottsdale Community College a week after making their own out-of-state trip to Rio Rancho, N.M.
“We have to come out and stay focused again,” Taylor said of staying level after a blowout. “We won’t change anything. We’ve been winning, so we don’t need to change anything. We just have to come out prepared again and we’ll be OK.”