Homecoming weekend brought along a raucous crowd at Hamilton High School as the Huskies prepared to do battle against Mountain Pointe.
Hamilton seemingly fed off the energy from its fans, as the Huskies jumped on Mountain Pointe early and never looked back, cruising to a 42-13 victory on Friday night.
“It’s a good feeling,” Hamilton coach Mike Zdebski said. “We’ve just got to concentrate on getting better and better week-by-week, day-by-day. We just have to stay focused on what we have to do to get better and go from there.”
Hamilton looked to establish momentum from the opening moments of the game, electing to receive the opening kick after winning the coin toss, a rarity at any level.
The Huskies’ first drive stalled after Mountain Pointe senior captain and linebacker Rashion Hodge went airborne to bat down a pass on third down from Hamilton senior quarterback Nick Arvay. The two teams traded punts from there, but a short kick from Mountain Pointe gave Hamilton the ball at the Pride 30.
The Huskies took advantage.
Hamilton senior running back Gabriel Armenta powered his way into the end zone for the 10-yard score to put the Huskies on the board first.
“We have three good running backs so when one gets tired, another one jumps in,” said Hamilton quarterback Nick Arvay, who finished 11-of-14 for 129 yards. “Gabe is a beast, Sebastain (Dorman) is a beast, Zach (Lewis) is a beast, and our line is a beast.
“You just like seeing all of the hard work pay off.”
On Mountain Pointe’s ensuing possession, Hamilton freshman defensive back Cole Martin picked off Pride sophomore quarterback Landen Powell, who was hit as he threw. Martin raced up the Mountain Pointe sideline to extend the Huskies’ lead.
Yet another interception Mountain Pointe’s next time out on offense led to a 1-yard run from Hamilton senior running back Sebastain Dorman. Armenta followed it up with his second touchdown of the night, a 2-yard plunge before the end of the first half.
Mountain Pointe had little success stopping Hamilton’s rushing attack throughout the game. Both Dorman and Armenta found success on the ground, rushing for a combined 280 yards.
Armenta was the main beneficiary when Hamilton was inside or nearing the red zone, as the senior finished with four total touchdowns on the night, his longest from 26 yards out.
“We wanted to execute, that’s the plan every week,” Armenta said. “My O-line, man, I don’t care what anybody says we have the best line out there. Their work ethic is amazing and they just don’t give up. I love those boys.”
Mountain Pointe’s offense struggled to find momentum in the first half against Hamilton’s stout defensive front. Powell was pressured on a consistent basis throughout the first two quarters, and senior running back Resi Shank did what he could with the space he found before Husky defenders swarmed to the ball.
It was the first game for Mountain Pointe since news broke Monday that one of the assistant coaches in the football program and head girls basketball coach had shared game strategy, plays and formations with hundreds of the team’s opponents dating back to 2017.
The situation left the community surrounding the school with a feeling of betrayal, but one couldn’t sense that from the players.
Mountain Pointe came out with high energy during warm-ups all the way to the midway point of the first quarter. It started to fade as Hamilton’s lead grew, but Mountain Pointe came out right away in the second half and found a much-needed rhythm.
A long drive by Mountain Pointe right out of the half set up Hodge for a 1-yard touchdown run to put the Pride on the board. On Mountain Pointe’s next drive, a 66-yard pass from Powell to junior wideout BJ Washington set up a 6-yard pass to senior Xavier Lockett for the score.
Mountain Pointe was visibly disappointed by the loss, as neither players nor coaches were available for comment after the game. But it was the first step for the Pride to move past a difficult situation that haunted the program leading up to their matchup against Hamilton.
Now 1-3 on the year, Mountain Pointe will look to turn things around when it begins region play next week against Queen Creek (4-1) on the road.
Hamilton (5-0), meanwhile, will look to carry on its momentum of an undefeated season as it travels to Mesa to take on Dobson (2-3, 1-1).
“Especially coming from where we were last year, it feels amazing,” Armenta said. “Everybody slept on us. But now we are doing what we had planned to do, moving slowly, week-by-week going 1-0.”
MP 0 0 13 0 – 13
Ham 14 14 7 7 – 42
Ham – Armenta 10 run (Fuller kick), 7:37
Ham – Martin 80 interception (Fuller kick), 4:44
Ham – Dorman 1 run (Fuller kick), 6:55
Ham – Armenta 2 run (Fuller kick), 1:34
MP – Hodge 1 run (Rasmussen kick), 6:13
Ham – Armenta 5 run (Fuller kick), 2:46
MP – Powell 10 pass to Lockett, 1:50
Ham – Armenta 26 run (Fuller kick), 5:48