How much more can be un-earthed between two teams who’ve played each other four times in 13 months.
No more surprises, right?
Maybe. Maybe not.
It is no secret what No. 3 Hamilton and No. 6 Desert Vista want to do on Friday night: Win. It’s also no secret how each wants to do so: Run the ball and play defense.
It’s also no secret that the winner of this matchup of titans advances to the Division I semifinals. It’s also no secret that a state championship is the goal, and, for the Huskies, beating defending-champion Desert Vista is the route they must take.
It’s also the route they’ve sought since last year’s blowout loss to the Thunder at University of Phoenix Stadium, and Hamilton’s 23-13 win over D.V. on Oct. 5 was nice and needed for Hamilton at the time, but a playoff win is as close to returning the favor as Hamilton can get.
That 0-2 start to the season is but a distant memory given Hamilton’s play since. The Huskies have won nine consecutive games since returning from Ireland, and though pushed to the end by Basha, the defense has been aided by an evolving offense. A.J. Thigpen’s development at quarterback has been crucial, especially in avoiding turnovers that plagued Hamilton in the earlygoing. A possible return of running back Kevin Walters from injury this week would only make a relatively healthy Hamilton squad feel fresher.
A win for the Thunder would be a double shot of punctured winning streaks. Last year’s title game win ended Hamilton’ 53-game winning streak, and a win Friday would end Hamilton’s current 53-game home winning streak (Oct. 22, 2004 vs. Highland).
It would also mean a victory against a Chandler district school for the third consecutive week (D.V. beat Chandler to end the regular season, then Basha in last week’s playoff opening round).
“It would be a great accomplishment for any team to beat those three teams,” Hinds said.
Desert Vista isn’t quite as fresh. The biggest reason being lineman Zach Tamburo who suffered an ankle injury against Hamilton and has barely played or practiced since. The Thunder had a rotation of guys fill in admirably the past few weeks, especially against Basha last week, but Tamburo’s availability is a big deal to help Jarek Hilgers, Kaleb Germinaro and co. run the ball, a requisite to have any chance of scoring points against Hamilton’s defense.
The recipe is easy: Run the ball, stop the other team, don’t turn the ball over and beware the occasional trick play. Outside of that, no sweat.
“From now until then there is the preparation piece of it, all of the other stuff is a waste of time,” Hinds said. “Come 7 o’clock on Friday they’ll be ready. To think about it now is a waste of time. We don’t have to give a pump-up speech this time.”
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune sports editor. He can be reached at email@example.com or (480) 898-6576.