Gilbert High hasn’t been very successful when facing Chandler Hamilton. But then, not many teams have.
Still, the Tigers usually give Hamilton a tougher time than most teams. Why the Tigers?
“Two words,” Hamilton coach Steve Belles said. “Jesse Parker. When you play a Parker-coached team you’d better bring your lunch. They battle you to the end.”
The teams have met 10 times since 1999 when Parker took over the program. Gilbert has won just once — 22-18 in 2001. Four other games have been decided by a touchdown or less and several have had the Tigers leading late.
“We have been close, just haven’t been able to turn the corner on them,” Parker said. “Most of the time our kids come into the game thinking they are going to win. I’m sure they do, too.
“We try to eliminate the fear or intimidation factor. You have to believe you can do something if you’re going to have a chance to accomplish it.”
Hamilton is led by a balanced offense, piloted by quarterback Zak Hambsch and running backs Dante Alexander and Zach Bauman. Alexander and Bauman each have more than 400 yards rushing and a combined 10 touchdowns.
The Huskies also have a pair of tough receivers to corral in Drew Terrell and Alante Wright. Between them they have 47 catches for 634 yards and three touchdowns.
Gilbert has enjoyed success on the ground with Bret Crowe, Trey Fulton and Anthony McDaniel. Crowe and Fulton have combined for 15 touchdowns. But the Tigers also have a legitimate passing game this year with quarterback Brandon Bialkowski already hooking up with wideout Jesse Brantley for seven touchdowns.
Brantley is averaging 25 yards per reception.
“That’s an extra dimension they have this year,” Belles said. “The games we’ve seen them on film they’ve looked real good.”