Chandler Hamilton is looking for its second repeat as state champion this decade. The pieces are definitely there to accomplish that mission.
Most coaches’ biggest concern is their offensive and defensive lines. Hamilton, on the other hand, has four of five starters back on the offensive line and two returning starters on the D line. It’s made for a smooth camp leading up to this evening’s season opener at Sierra Vista Buena.
“That was one of the things we had to tinker with last year at the start with injuries and getting the right people in place,” Hamilton coach Steve Belles said. “It’s a comfortable feeling knowing we have that kind of experience at this time.”
Belles, who prides himself on offense, has a two-pronged attack at quarterback this year to replace the graduated Brad Gruner. Justin Peters, who has toiled as a backup the last two seasons, is set to share time with senior Gerell Robinson. They will alternate at quarterback by design.
“Both have real good leadership,” Belles said. “Justin brings a calming temperament. He’s been waiting in the wings for three years. Gerell’s like Austin Martin, a kid I had at Mountain Ridge. He has the ability to turn any play into a TD.”
Robinson will play mostly offense this year. When he doesn’t play quarterback he’ll be a receiver. He also will be used at times in the secondary, where he played and started most of last season.
The focal point on offense figures to be senior running back Covaughn DeBoskie, a rushing and receiving threat. Deboskie, who has drawn interest from California and Stanford, averaged 120 yards rushing the final nine games of last season when he became a fixture in the backfield.
Hamilton’s defense returns just three starters, but there is a strong legacy behind them. The Huskies have allowed an average of just 10.4 points per game over the last four seasons, covering 56 games and four title-game appearances.
2006 record: 13-1, state champion
Coach: Steve Belles, 2nd year, 13-1
Returning offensive starters: 5, including running back Covaughn DeBoskie, who totaled 1,526 yards rushing and receiving and scored 21 TDs.
Returning defensive starters: 3, including linebacker Elliott Harper, who recorded 101 tackles
Aug. 31 at Brophy: An opportunity to avenge its lone Arizona loss the last two years.
Sept. 6 Centennial: Settle the question: Can a top 5A-II school hold its own or beat the best in 5A-I?