VX Game of the Week: No. 6 Pinnacle at No. 3 Hamilton - East Valley Tribune: VarsityXtra

VX Game of the Week: No. 6 Pinnacle at No. 3 Hamilton

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Posted: Thursday, November 14, 2013 7:31 am

There are as many schools of thought on the whole advantage-disadvantage debate in "rematch" games as there are rematch games this week in the state tournament quarterfinals.

That is, about a half-dozen.

In this case, No. 6 Pinnacle and No. 3 Hamilton will meet again after the first meeting went down to the final minutes before Hamilton's running game chewed up enough clock to eke out a 24-20 victory.

The Huskies weren't thrilled with their performance, but it was enough against a really good team to keep that home winning intact (which dates back to Oct. 2004). Meanwhile, Pinnacle served notice it's for real as it beefed up its "freedom" portion of the schedule, and the Pioneers believe they have only improved, starting with junior QB Brian Lewerke and trickling down to the team's physicality and defense.

Lewerke was offered by Arizona State before the season began on the heels of a good summer camp showing, and he's been the catalyst all season for the Pioneers (2,567 yards, 31 TD, 4 INT). His performances against Horizon in Week 9 and Mountain View last week drew rave reviews, as Cules Rose and Daniel Galindo out wide and Josh Hoekstra (1,168 yards) in the backfield haven't been stopped since a Sept. 20 loss to Basha.

"I think the difference is Brian’s playing better," he said. "He’s very much the 'X' factor offensively.

"This team with these kids believe and expect to win. They’ve gone out and played like it. That hasn’t always happened with previous Pinnacle teams."

Starting with its improved health, Hamilton, too, feels its offensive line and defense are better than from Week 3. The Huskies have suffered more injuries than at any other time in coach Steve Belles' seven-year tenure.

"We’re going to definitely change some things up," he said. "We have to. I don’t think we played a great game and they certainly have our full attention.

"It’s good we did play them. We have an idea to expect. You better come ready."

In the courts of outsiders' opinions, the surges provided by Mountain Pointe, Chandler and Desert Ridge have come at the expense of Hamilton, which lost to Mountain Pointe and Chandler (for the first time in existence). But the Huskies feel QB Sam Sasso and the offensive line have progressed in the past few weeks.

"Our offense has grown up quite a bit," Belles said. "Our kids are a bit brighter than early in the season, and guys who hadn’t played a lot offensively are figuring it out, and Sam has come into the zone."

As for the real vs. imaginary of whether the past will predict the present, it's subjective in this case. Belles noted the 2011 team which hammered Desert Vista in the regular season, then was hammered by the Thunder in the title game. In 2012, the Huskies were beaten by Mountain Pointe in the regular season, then beat up the Pride in the title game.

Pinnacle played Mountain View for a second time this season in last's first round of the playoffs, and won both meetings.

"It doesn’t mean one result will lead to another, but to beat a good team twice is tough," Zupke said. "It’s still Hamilton. They’re pretty good."

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