Media outlets have prepared obituaries for famous people getting up in age so when the time comes a few simple blanks can be filled in and the obit can be released in a timely fashion.
After two weeks into the football season, there were plenty of people in Arizona who probably wanted to take a similar approach to the Hamilton football program.
The Huskies were clearly ill, but they are more than alive and well after seven weeks into the season as Hamilton knocked off another top-five team on Friday with a 23-13 home win over Desert Vista.
“Everyone had us ranked low and it got us riled up,” said Huskies cornerback Levi Sterling, whose interception in the end zone for a touchback with three minutes remaining essentially sealed the win. “We answered all that talk about us being down.
“The coaches always get us prepared and we get better each week. It doesn’t matter what you do in the first game as long as you playing better at the end.”
Hamilton (5-2) started the year with two defeats, one against Mountain Pointe that could have been put away for a win if not for a turnover inside the Pride 20 and the other came about 5,000 miles away in Ireland, but when added to the embarrassing lost to Desert Vista in last year’s state title game, many saw the three-game skid as an opportunity to claim the king of Arizona was dead.
Keep that thought, and that prepared obit, off to the side, as the Huskies were once No. 28 in the AIA power rankings and were 0-2 for the first time in school history.
Per usual, the Huskies are seemingly getting better each week. It’s become a trademark as new players are ushered in and by the time October and November come around, the Huskies have it rolling.
This year most of the success comes from one particular unit.
The Hamilton defense, which features seven juniors and a sophomore, won this game as the unit took a bit of the aggressiveness out of the usually physically-overpowering Thunder offensive line.
“This year the one thing I can say is we have a great defense and defensive wins championships,” Thunder coach Dan Hinds said. “That’s a physical team and they feed off that, but our defense did a great job of containing their running game.”
The Thunder (5-2) lost leader Zack Tamburo early because of a high ankle sprain to lessen the physicality the line usually has. Junior Jalen Jelks and Adam Ortega filled in, but the Hamilton front seven managed to limit Desert Vista to about 150 yards rushing.
“We didn’t play our best game,” Hinds said. “We had some young guys go in and they did a nice job, but it wasn’t an ideal situation against a tough defense like that.”
The game swayed Hamilton’s way quickly in the second quarter in a short period of time. The Thunder’s Matt Young was sacked in the end zone for a safety by sophomore Caleb Peart for a 9-0 lead with 3:40 left in the first half.
“We had one play, checked to another and that was my fault there,” Young said.
The damage didn’t stop there as Tyler Eggers returned the free kick to the Thunder 31-yard line. After a nifty 15-yard run by Stevon Adams, he pushed the lead to 16-0 on a 3-yard touchdown run with 37.5.
“They came right back and got that good field position,” Hinds said. "They scored right there and that hurt even more."
Hamilton went for an onside kick and Desert Vista recovered at 50 with 30 seconds left, but Hinds elected to take a knee instead of running a play.
“I didn’t want to give the ball back to them. It’s a decision I made,” he said. “I wanted to get in and regroup.”
Thunder got a break to open the second half when Hamilton quarterback/punter AJ Thigpen bobbled the punt snap deep in Husky territory to set up a 7-yard touchdown by Jarek Hilgers (13 carries, 42 yards). The failed 2-point try made it 16-6 with 9:30 to go in the third.
After Desert Vista closed within 23-13 on a Zach Gonzalez 2-yard score, the Thunder’s Dylan Fischer recovered a Hamilton fumbled.
Young drove the Thunder down toward the red zone before being intercepted by Sterling, who celebrated his birthday with twin Santana on Friday.
“It was tipped up and I came down with it,” Levi Sterling said. “It was a big play because it looked like they were going to score, but we found a way.”
Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or JSkoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.
Hamilton 23, Desert Vista 13
DV 0 0 6 7 - 13
Ham 0 16 7 0 - 23
H - Walters 2 run (Wichman kick), 7:46
H - Safety: Young sacked in end zone by Peart, 3:40
H - Adams 3 run (Wichman kick), 37.5
DV - Hilgers 7 run (run failed)
H - Simpson 14 pass from Thigpen (Wichman kick), 4:58
DV - Gonzalez 2 run (Pletenik kick), 6:13