VX Rewind 8/25: Taking down giants - East Valley Tribune: VarsityXtra

VX Rewind 8/25: Taking down giants

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Posted: Saturday, August 25, 2012 3:15 pm | Updated: 3:24 pm, Sat Aug 25, 2012.

The giants fell like dominoes Friday night.

Hamilton first, at 9:39 p.m., then Chaparral and Saguaro almost simultaneously a half hour later.

We’ll know in a few months whether this wild opening night was a hiccup or a sign of things to come, but for now, let’s just enjoy it, shall we?

In the past half decade, Hamilton, Saguaro and Chaparral have been like that friend who takes everything too seriously: Once they show up, the party’s over.

Even though Desert Vista dominated the Huskies in last year’s Division I championship game, many chalked it up as a fluke and put Hamilton right back on top as the state title favorite.

Now, who knows?

Hamilton’s offense was the worry heading into this season, and 14 points against Mountain Pointe — albeit a very good defensive team — didn’t answer any of those questions. The team still needs to find big-play threats, because, as it saw on Friday night, one big turnover late in a close game can cause a gigantic shift.

It’s certainly not the end of the world. The Huskies were sloppy, it was quarterback A.J. Thigpen’s starting debut and the team is traveling to Ireland for its next game, so there was a recipe for an upset.

But the Division I teams used to getting manhandled by Hamilton must be cracking the slightest of smiles at this outcome. The Huskies are now on a two-game losing streak, something that’s never happened under the watch of coach Steve Belles.

Chaparral has even bigger worries. Salpointe gave it every opportunity to run away with Friday’s game early on, but the Firebirds could only settle for field goals and eventually fell, 27-20.

The talent is there at Chaparral, but with a sophomore quarterback, a new coach in Dave Huffine and only two returning starters, there are a bunch of moving parts. If it wasn’t clear before the season, it is now: The Firebirds are nowhere near the resounding Division II favorite they were for the past two seasons with Connor Brewer and Davonte Neal leading the way.

It was also a tough debut for Saguaro’s new coach, Jason Mohns. The Sabercats were lethargic and mistake-riddled through the first three quarters, but scored 21 fourth-quarter points to take a late lead. However, when you let a team hang around, bad things can happen, and Boise State-commitment Ryan Finley threw an 18-yard touchdown pass with one second remaining as Paradise Valley shocked the Sabercats.

Saguaro may be in the best position because it didn’t have star Christian Kirk in the season opener and the competition in Division III is lower, but it won’t be like last year’s cakewalk.

For the Big Three, this weekend is a time to recollect, hunker down and get back to business.

It’s tough to imagine any of them lacking motivation now, and the talent at each school is still plentiful enough to win a state championship.

But for everyone else, it must feel like Christmas morning, as the air is a little fresher and the grass is a little greener.

The three Goliaths were dropped on the same night.

And all the Davids rejoiced.

Looking ahead

Will the losing continue? Hamilton faces off with Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame in Ireland on Friday, while Chaparral plays Marcos de Niza and Saguaro faces Phoenix Thunderbird. All could be tough games, and it will be interesting to see how they each bounce back.

Highland played very well in its season-opening victory over Mesquite, and now can move to 2-0 with another intra-city rivalry game, this one against Gilbert.

Campo Verde and Higley face off in a game that should be competitive, while Westwood would really turn some heads if it can move to 2-0 in a matchup with Corona del Sol.

Injury update

Red Mountain linebacker Dalton Kirk, last year’s leading tackler, will miss the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered in practice last week.

 

Thumbs up

Close games: Mountain Pointe kicked a last-second field goal to beat Hamilton. Paradise Valley scored with one second left to beat Saguaro. Chaparral and Salpointe came down to the last minute. Desert Mountain and Mountain View were tied in the fourth quarter. Red Mountain and Westview went back and forth until the Mountain Lions pulled away late. There were a fair share of blowouts on opening night, but there was also drama, especially involving highly-ranked teams. Let’s hope for plenty more this season.

Highland: The Hawks hadn’t won their opener since 2008, but rolled to a 37-0 victory over Mesquite. Highland won four of its final five games a season ago and seems to have carried it over. The offense has been a problem in recent years, but James Brletic and Blake Young each ran for a pair of touchdowns, and it’s a very solid start for the Hawks.

Tempe: It’s been a trying few years for Brian Walker as coach of the Buffaloes, but the beginning of 2012 couldn’t have been much sweeter. Behind the passing duo of quarterback Emanuel Gant and wide receiver Sebastian Watkins, Tempe defeated McClintock 32-28 for the school’s first win in the rivalry since 2004.

Thumbs down

Notre Dame: The Saints picked it up at the end of last season, winning five of their final six regular season games and then upsetting Salpointe to make the Division II quarterfinals. It’s another slow start in 2012, though, as Notre Dame lost to Marcos de Niza, 42-0, after losing to the Padres by 50 last year.

Running backs: Aerial escapades were a common theme around the East Valley this weekend, but big games from running backs were not as prevalent. Higley’s Thomas Bush ran for 200 yards and several others eclipsed 100, but this could the year of the quarterback and receiver if the first week is any indication.

 

The giants fell like dominoes Friday night.

Hamilton first, at 9:39 p.m., then Chaparral and Saguaro almost simultaneusly a half hour later.

We’ll know in a few months whether this wild opening night was a hiccup or a sign of things to come, but for now, let’s just enjoy it, shall we?

In the past half decade, Hamilton, Saguaro and Chaparral have been like that friend who takes everything too seriously: Once they show up, the party’s over.

Even though Desert Vista dominated the Huskies in last year’s Division I championship game, many chalked it up as a fluke and put Hamilton right back on top as the state title favorite.

Now, who knows?

Hamilton’s offense was the worry heading into this season, and 14 points against Mountain Pointe — albeit a very good defensive team — didn’t answer any of those questions. The team still needs to find big-play threats, because, as it saw on Friday night, one big turnover late in a close game can cause a gigantic shift.

It’s certainly not the end of the world. The Huskies were sloppy, it was quarterback A.J. Thigpen’s starting debut and the team is traveling to Ireland for its next game, so there was a recipe for an upset.

But the Division I teams used to getting manhandled by Hamilton must be cracking the slightest of smiles at this outcome. The Huskies are now on a two-game losing streak, something that’s never happened under the watch of coach Steve Belles.

Chaparral has even bigger worries. Salpointe gave it every opportunity to run away with

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