Mark Heller: Huskies seniors Zach Bauman and Michael Allen are well aware of Barry Sanders, even if they're a bit too young to fully appreciate the former Detroit Lions running back's moves in real time. They've seen enough to impersonate him.
The unison gasp coming out of 4,000 Chandler Hamilton fans' mouths could be heard across the field at Tempe McClintock High School.
Meanwhile, you could practically hear a pin drop on the Chandler side - only it wasn't a pin, but a Wolves defender who grabbed some ground empty-handed.
Huskies seniors Zach Bauman and Michael Allen are well aware of Barry Sanders, even if they're a bit too young to fully appreciate the former Detroit Lions running back's moves in real time.
They've seen enough to impersonate him. The final 26 of Bauman's 187 yards rushing, and his third of three running touchdowns - the fourth overall - in the Huskies' 49-21 blowout of Chandler on Friday night looked like a scene taken straight from No. 20's NFL career highlight reel.
Bauman ran untouched for 11 yards, then against the sideline, juked his body once to the right, once to the left, then cut back into play, scurried his way to the goal line and reached the ball across the goal line while being tackled.
Even Allen, who clutched his second giant plaque as the player of the game this season, couldn't believe he had watched his backfield partner and friend since birth shake-n-bake and buckle a Chandler linebacker's knees down into the dirt.
"I didn't know he had it in him," Allen said with a smile.
Allen (15 carries, 208 yards, two TDs) and Bauman (241 total yards) each had an entire highlight reel's worth of runs in the third quarter, when the Huskies put up 201 yards rushing on Chandler's defense and demolished the Wolves physically and in spirit.
The final box score showed a combined 395 yards rushing and six touchdowns between them, and though Bauman and Allen have run rampant most of the season, it's been nothing like this.
Not against Chandler. Not in a semifinal playoff game. Not in 35-degree weather.
"They came out, lined up and kicked our (butt)," Wolves coach Jim Ewan said of Hamilton's second half.
With Hamilton's premier offensive line, either one of these guys could be "the man," play every snap and run for 2,000 yards.
The problem with that is one would have to answer to someone bigger than 6-foot-5 Huskies coach Steve Belles: the other.
"We're both quick and both strong, there's always a fresh back in the game," said Bauman, who averages 10 yards per carry. "I think we make a great duo."
It's been that way for a lifetime. The two have been close friends since diapers, mostly because their fathers worked together at Sky Harbor International Airport. They played against each other during Pop Warner, where the yapping competitions blossomed.
Back together on the same side in high school, it was Bauman who saw much more playing time in 2008 than Allen, and that frustrated Allen because he couldn't figure out why. So he worked harder in the offseason and pushed Bauman to the point where the Huskies had to platoon.
"I told him to stick with it," Bauman said. "I know how good he can be, and coaches and everyone else would find out soon enough."
The Wolves already knew, but they found out again Friday night.
Allen is now averaging 12 yards per carry, and outside a minor outburst that was quickly extinguished by Belles earlier this season, it's been smooth sailing.
"I'm fine as long as we're each doing what we should," Allen said. "I have no problem at all."
Though he barely has a driver's license, Allen is desperate to go to Arizona State because he wants to stay close to home; the Sun Devils haven't shown much interest so far.
Perhaps it's partly because Allen is a 16-year-old senior. His mother wanted him and his older sister to start school at the same time, which means he's played against kids at least a year or two older at every level.
Allen is 5-foot-11 and Bauman is 5-foot-8, but the taller kid still looks up to his buddy.
"It's always been that way," Allen said. "I'm going to miss him after this."