No, it’s not a replay of the 2005 championship game, 2007 semifinals in a massive rainstorm, 2008 championship game, or any number of other big-time regular season or playoff matches.
It’s just a couple schools with a lot of tradition and history playing in Week 2, feeling pretty good about themselves so far.
It’s No. 1 Hamilton vs. No. 8 Brophy on Friday night, and while the Huskies (1-0) and Broncos (1-0) are coming off impressive opening-night wins, both know there’s a long road to haul. And, despite the long history of memorable meetings in the past eight years, this will be the schools’ first meeting since October 2010, a 27-0 shutout by Hamilton.
Hamilton had a strong first half and eventually hung on to beat Eastlake (Calif.), 28-17, in Week 1. Brophy got a huge performance from its defense and special teams in beating Desert Mountain.
Both sides spoke of execution and mistakes which hampered their respective teams last week, but internal fortitude was also mentioned by both sides as perhaps the biggest positive to come from those Week 1 wins.
Hamilton suffered a couple second-half turnovers (fumbling the second-half kickoff and an interception), which put its defense in tough positions while Eastlake was able to mount a comeback while some Huskies players were plagued by cramps from abnormally hot weather in Southern California.
“Last year we made the same mistakes and lost,” Hamilton coach Steve Belles said, referring to consecutive losses against Mountain Pointe and Notre Dame (Calif.) in Ireland to begin the 2012 season.
“I think they learned something a year ago and the team wasn’t real happy giving up 17 points. I think they expect a lot more out of themselves and were upset about giving up points, and the good thing especially was not hearing it from coaching, but from hearing it from themselves. There’s a lot of good senior leadership on this team.”
Brophy blocked three of Desert Mountain’s punts/kicks and, with physicality, held the high-powered Wolves to a lone touchdown in the game’s final minute. The Broncos lost several kids to cramps later in the game (many are two-way starters) but second- and even a couple third-team defenders filled in admirably.
The Broncos are a completely different crew than 2012, especially offensively. While it’s been two consecutive games (dating back to last year’s playoff loss to Mountain Pointe) without an offensive touchdown, the Broncos moved the ball and only committed one turnover.
That could be the biggest challenge against Hamilton’s defense.
“We realize with one starter coming back on offense (top-notch offensive tackle A.T. Hall) there’s going to be mistakes made, but they weren’t game changing or devastating. They’re all correctable,” Brophy coach Scooter Molander said.
Belles was pleased with quarterback Sam Sasso’s ability to drive the offense behind Hamilton’s big, veteran offensive line, and the ability of either team to score points is going to be paramount, because neither side is likely to bend often (let alone break) on defense.
“A defense like that is very challenging, big, fast, strong,” Molander said. “We’re going to have to have some luck and we’re going to need to be very efficient in what we do.”
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune sports editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (480) 898-6576.