Last season, it took a team from halfway across the country to knock off Chandler Hamilton.
Scottsdale Saguaro lost a game by three points to rival Scottsdale Chaparral.
And that was it.
Both teams finished up 13-1, and it wasn’t like they had to sweat their way through the state tournament, either. The Huskies’ smallest margin of victory was a 19-point win over Mesa Mountain View in the 5A-I title game. Saguaro’s was a 20-point romp over Tucson Sabino in the 4A-I championship tilt.
The scary part? Both could be even better this year.
Of course, each squad lost players as everyone does. But look who’s coming back.
At Hamilton, it’s an ubertalented trio — running back Covaughn DeBoskie, offensive lineman Patrick Jamison and quarterback Gerell Robinson — who will be at Division-I colleges next season.
The Huskies showed their prowess in the season opener by beating Sierra Vista Buena 44-0 in a game that lasted just past halftime because of lightning.
At Saguaro, not only are quarterback Tim Ruben and running back Beau Burton back, but 80 percent of a dominant offensive line. Lineman Chris Merrill recently committed to UA and Corey Adams, just a junior, will have his pick of colleges after next season.
It’s no wonder Chaparral coach Charlie Ragle refers to the school as ‘Saguaro U’ for its propensity to churn out highlevel linemen. Remember, Kyle Caldwell and Loren Howard graduated from Saguaro earlier this decade.
Neither team is avoiding anyone this season.
Hamilton played No. 2 Brophy last night and will face 5A-II top dog Peoria Centennial and No. 3 Mesa Red Mountain in the next three weeks. The Huskies’ season finale is against No. 4 Chandler. Saguaro plays pesky Prescott tonight, No. 2 Chaparral during the region schedule and No. 3 Glendale Cactus to finish the year. Clearly, any weaknesses Saguaro and Hamilton have will be exposed. Unfortunately for the rest of the state, that just means they’ll have time to correct them.
TWO MUCH RISK?
Speaking of Hamilton, it will be interesting to see if coach Steve Belles sticks to the twoquarterback system he has set up for Robinson and Justin Peters.
There is always more to a situation than meets the eye, but doesn’t it make sense to simply stick Robinson at wide receiver and get both players on the field at the same time?
The talent on the Huskies’ sideline this year is unquestionable, but a quarterback controversy can cause friction in a sport where chemistry is a huge element to success. Just ask Arizona State.
The early returns have been favorable, as the pair combined to throw for 249 yards and four touchdowns in one half of work against Buena.
But Robinson also showed his versatility, rushing for 46 yards and making two catches for 59 yards.
The guess here, especially with a brutal early schedule, is that one quarterback cements himself as the starter and the other finds playing time somewhere else.
Revenge will surely be a motivating factor for Gilbert Higley tonight in its title game rematch with Cave Creek Cactus Shadows, which the Falcons won, 28-14.
Other than that, there isn’t much to go on. The teams aren’t just in separate regions this year, but separate conferences, with Cactus Shadows moving up to 4A-I after realignment.
Furthermore, the wide receiver who torched the Knights for a state-record 21 receptions in the title game (Kyle Watkins), and the quarterback who got him the ball (Phillip Aholt) have both graduated.
Still, a win here is important for the Knights, who are ranked No. 1 in the Tribune’s preseason rankings and have their eyes on the 4A-II state title that eluded them last season.