Hamilton defensive tackle Jaxon Hood sat alone at the 43-yard line after Saturday's state championship game, trying to comprehend what just happened.
This is one that defies conventional thinking.
Desert Vista played like it was the state's football juggernaut on Saturday afternoon, dominating the heavily favored Huskies in every facet of the game to win the Division I title, 45-19, at University of Phoenix Stadium.
The third-seeded Thunder captured their first state title since 1998 and denied top-seeded Hamilton a fourth straight championship in one of the biggest championship-game upsets in years. Hamilton's 53-game winning streak was snapped, which was the longest in the country among public schools.
Desert Vista lost to Hamilton 35-10 in the regular season, but jumped out to a 21-0 first-half lead and was never seriously threatened.
"It wasn't quite like this, but we imagined winning," Desert Vista quarterback Hunter Rodriguez said. "Nobody believed in us but us, and that's all we needed."
A Hamilton defense that continually shut down high-powered defenses this year gave up 361 yards of total offense and didn't force a single Desert Vista punt.
The Thunder ran the ball remarkably well and quarterback Hunter Rodriguez made all the throws needed as Desert Vista shocked Hamilton.
Mike Arredondo finished with 13 carries for 70 yards and two touchdowns. Dominic Kereluk, Kaleb Germinaro and Jarek Hilgers also ran for scores. The 45 points were the most Hamilton has ever given up in a single game.
"It seemed like we got outcoached and outplayed all over the field," Hamilton coach Steve Belles said.
Desert Vista set the tone from the opening kickoff, when Ryan Wagner returned it to the Thunder 49. Desert Vista drove down the field, and Hilgers scored from a yard out on fourth-and-goal for an early 7-0 lead.
Matt Young then really put the upset train in motion by picking off Hamilton quarterback Blake Kemp and returning the ball 44 yards for a 14-0 lead less than a minute later.
"That just strengthened our belief (of a possible upset)," Arredondo said.
Arredondo's 1-yard run pushed the lead to 21-0 midway through the second, the first time a Belles-coached Hamilton team has ever trailed by 21 points or more, and while Just'n Thymes scored on a 41-yard pass from Kemp on Hamilton's ensuing drive, the Huskies never were closer than 14 points the rest of the way.
Germinaro put the nail in the coffin by scoring on a fly sweep from 14 yards out with 2:57 left in the third quarter for a 28-7 Desert Vista lead, and Scotty Goldfein made it 31-7 with a 40-yard field goal with 9:07 remaining.
Kendyl Taylor caught a pair of touchdown passes in the fourth quarter, but by that time it was too little, too late. Hamilton was looking to become the first big school in state history to win four straight titles, but Desert Vista coach Dan Hinds' team wasn't concerned with the Huskies' mystique.
"They weren't really overwhelmed by that whole thing," he said.
Taylor finished with 11 catches for 123 yards and quarterback Blake Kemp was 19-of-31 for 267 yards with three touchdowns but threw two interceptions.
Hamilton was forced to pass more than normal because it was in the unfamiliar position of playing from behind.
Desert Vista never trailed, and there were several mini-celebations late because the Thunder was in total control as the final minutes ticked down.
"I'm so speechless right now," Arredondo said. "I've never wanted anything more in my life. To finally be here is incredible."