Long drives can wear down defenses and give an emotional boost to an offense.
Drives that take too long, though, are flirting with disaster.
Hamilton’s offense has been methodical this season, but coach Steve Belles wants to see more big plays out of that unit this week against No. 3 Desert Vista to avoid turnovers.
While the team’s defense has been solid, the offense has yet to hit on all cylinders.
“We’ve got to get some quick-drive strikes,” Belles said. “Hopefully we can do that offensively.”
It won’t be an easy task, as the undefeated Thunder have allowed only 55 points in six games this year. Saguaro scored 28 in the first half last week, but were shut out after intermission as Desert Vista rallied from 22 down for a 31-28 victory.
“I was really excited about how we did that,” Desert Vista coach Dan Hinds said. “I learned a lot about this team.”
Hamilton will be without second-leading rusher Clayton Stanchik, who may miss a month with a knee injury suffered in last week’s win against Chandler. Marcus Jones and Frankie Felix should see increased carries, and wide receiver Kendyl Taylor could see more rushing attempts from the Wildcat formation, as a traditional runner, or on sweeps.
Taylor had the game-winning touchdown against the Wolves and is the main big-play threat offensively.
“We’re going to find ways to use Kendyl a little bit more,” Belles said.
On the flip side, Desert Vista’s running game will get its biggest test of the season. The Thunder are averaging 248.2 rushing yards per game and have four different players with more than 250 yards on the season, but the Huskies are talented across the board on defense.
Against Desert Ridge, Hamilton chose to focus heavily on stopping the run, and the team’s defensive backs did a fantastic job in one-on-one coverage. The Thunder have a solid quarterback in Hunter Rodriguez (53-of-76 for 738 yards with seven touchdowns and only one interception), but Desert Vista would like to stay balanced and establish its running game.
“We think we can run what we do offensively,” Hinds said. “We feel pretty confident that if our kids come out and play hard we can move the ball.”
This is another contender taking its shot at Hamilton, as the Huskies have already knocked off Mountain Pointe, Desert Ridge and Chandler, with undefeated Basha looming a few weeks down the road.
“It’s a short week, but we’ll be ready,” Belles said. “They’re a good team.”