If each play on Hamilton’s game-winning drive Monday night looked similar, it’s because they were.
On 10 of the pivotal drive’s 11 plays, quarterback Sam Sasso handed off to Tyrell Smith, who burst off the left side of the Huskies’ offensive line.
The reason Hamilton went to the left is because that is where Casey Tucker was paving the way. The 6-foot-6, 290-pound tackle was equally responsible for each yard of the drive as Smith or Sasso.
“We went over Casey Tucker, who is as good a lineman as I’ve had here,” Hamilton coach Steve Belles said after his team punched its ticket to Saturday’s Division I state championship game with the 21-17 win over Chandler. “That was an easy decision, really.”
Smith heaped similar praise Tucker’s way after the running back plunged into the end zone on a 4th-and-1 play with 30 seconds left in the semifinal matchup.
“It’s a complement to us as a line,” Tucker said. “We wanted to wear them down and drive it down their throats. We ran the same play the whole drive, over and over again. It was working for us.”
The win was especially meaningful for Tucker, who missed six weeks earlier this season with an ankle injury. Among the games he watched from the sideline was the Huskies’ 26-16 loss to Chandler on Oct. 4.
“It was fractured or something. It is kind of a mess,” said Tucker, who returned to the field last week. “I’m really happy I got to get back and play with my boys.”
Tucker’s boys, particularly the running backs, are glad to have him. As will some big-time college program next year.
Tucker is a five-star prospect and the 28th-best prospect in the country, according to Scout.com. He has scholarship offers from both in-state schools, as well as top-tier programs like Oregon, Stanford, Michigan, Notre Dame and Oklahoma.
Former Hamilton lineman Christian Westerman, now at ASU, was on the Hamilton sideline Monday night and no doubt will lobby Tucker in the coming weeks to join him with the Sun Devils. National Signing Day is Feb. 5.
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