Chandler Hamilton coach Steve Belles finally got to feel really good about a victory over 5A-I Fiesta Region rival Gilbert High. The third-ranked Huskies continued to click on all cylinders offensively and played a complete game Friday night in dominating the fifth-ranked Tigers, 49-12, at Gilbert.
The victory denied, for the time being, Gilbert coach Jesse Parker’s bid for his 308th career win, which when the Tigers get it, will tie Parker with Karl Kiefer for the most triumphs in state history.
This was the third time Belles and the Huskies have gone up against Gilbert since Belles took over in 2006. The Huskies (6-1, 1-0) survived the last two games with late heroics. Nothing like that was needed this night.
“I thought we played well on both sides of the ball,” Belles said. “This is the first time I’ve felt like we controlled the line of scrimmage against them.”
About the only bright spot for Gilbert (5-2, 0-1) came on the game’s first possession. The Tigers managed a quick first down in two rushing plays at their 30 and then busted a run near midfield. That play was nullified by a holding penalty that pushed Gilbert back to its 20 and in poor field position for much of the rest of the game.
It was all Hamilton from there. The Huskies forced a punt and took over on its first series at the Gilbert 38 with 8:06 left in the period. Four and a half minutes later, the first of three Zach Bauman touchdown runs put Hamilton in front 7-0. Bauman finished with 11 carries for 82 yards. He added scoring runs of 34 and 6 later in the half to make it 21-0 Huskies.
Senior quarterback Zak Hambsch, who beautifully orchestrated the offense for the better part of three quarters, added a TD of his own with 1:50 left in the first half. Hambsch tallied on a 25-yard draw play.
Hamilton effectively passed the ball around to a stable of playmakers with Hambsch using receivers Drew Terrell and Alante Wright alternately and feeding the ball on option to Dante Alexander or straight ahead to Bauman.
“The way our offense has picked up lately is a credit to Zak and his paying attention to detail,” Belles said.
Hamilton’s defense did its part, picking up four turnovers. Two of those came in the first half, setting up the offense in good field position and eventually leading to scores. Junior defensive back Devon Carrington recovered a fumble and nabbed a pick to lead the takeaway brigade.
The Huskies kept big-play receivers Jesse Brantley and Jordan LeSueur out of the end zone. They had combined for 10 TD receptions.
Hamilton limited Gilbert, which was averaging a click under 40 points a game, to 118 yards rushing. The Huskies also prevented big-play TD passes, although they did allow a couple of long pass plays. Nine Gilbert penalties, most coming on offense to negate decent gains, helped bog down the Tigers’ offense.
If Gilbert had any notion of a comeback to start the second half, it was doused rapidly. Hamilton took over at midfield after a pooch kick resulted in a nice 25-yard kickoff return. Eight plays later, Hambsch tossed his only TD pass of the game to tight end Taylor Grove to make it 35-0 with 9:26 to go in the third period.
Hambsch completed 12 of 16 passes for 148 yards. He also rushed for 47 yards.