It was a meat-and-potatoes game for Chandler Hamilton in Friday night’s 5A Division I state semifinal.
While the potatoes served as Hamilton’s offense and its more than 500 yards, the meat came in the form of the Huskies' defense in Hamilton’s 34-8 victory over city rival Chandler Basha.
The Huskies' defense, which had been overshadowed a bit by that of the Bears this season, recorded six sacks and two interceptions, and held Basha’s offense to minus-18 rushing yards in the first half.
They also limited Basha to only three first downs in the half, helping offset a plethora of penalties taken by the Huskies.
The core of Friday’s defense fell on Blake Swim and Jimmy Hardina. Swim had three sacks, while Hardina had two.
“We may bend, but we do not break,” Hardina said.
Hamilton has allowed only 162 points in 13 games this season, and only 25 in the last four games.
“We struggle at points, but we refuse to let a game get away from us,” Swim said. “We felt we could get better as the season progressed, and we have. We get down, and then we find a way to pick it back up.”
For Swim and Hardina, their efforts on defense were inspired by last year’s defeat at the hands of Phoenix Brophy in the championship game.
“It should have been us last year, and we haven’t forgotten what it will take to make sure that it can be us this year,” Hardina said.
It looked for a brief moment that Basha’s defense would be the one that would shine. Bears defender Joe Frias picked up a fumble from Hamilton’s Nathan Jeffrey, which set up Basha on the Huskies' 29 early in the first quarter.
But Basha couldn't take advantage of the field position. That set up a long Hamilton offensive drive that culminated in a touchdown.
On its next two possessions, Basha quarterback Troy Graham was sacked three times.
“It was a great effort,” Hamilton coach Steve Belles said. “The defense did the things needed to help get our offense going. It was what we needed, but they’re going to have to bear down a little more when we meet up against Mountain View.”