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Les WillseyStaff Writer, AIA365.com email@example.com
Week 7 FB: Desert Vista-Hamilton meet in D-I title rematchOct 2, 2012
Desert Vista scored a shocking triumph over Hamilton a little more than 10 months ago in unseating the Huskies as Division I champs. In the process the Thunder ended Hamilton's massive 53-game winning streak and trio of consecutive big-school state titles.
Desert Vista (5-1) will need something similar on Friday night (Oct. 5) when they visit Jerry Loper Field for the rematch. One obstacle Desert Vista must overcome -- Hamilton is Team October. The Huskies have dropped one October game since 2004. All told that's 28 consecutive October wins over that span. Their last loss in the Halloween month came Oct. 22, 2004, 37-15 to Highland.
That October stat is interesting, but more meaningful is how well Hamilton (4-2) has played since opening the season with two losses. The Huskies have momentum and are playing the brand of football on both sides of the ball that's seen them garner four of the last five titles.
Hamilton handily defeated two of 2012's D-I contenders in the last three weeks -- Desert Ridge and Chandler. Hamilton has averaged 34 points a game in its wins over Desert Ridge and Chandler. The Huskies and Thunder share a loss (to Mountain Pointe by three and two points, respectively.
Desert Vista has been solid in defending its title so far with no letdowns. The Thunder engaged in a shootout last week with D-III power Saguaro (56-35). They'll need a better performance defensively this week in a game three touchdowns is likely to be the maximum tallied by the winner.
Hamilton quarterback A.J. Thigpen has settled in after the first two weeks with efficient production. The Huskies are displaying more balance as a result. Thigpen accounted for more than 200 yards rushing and passing against Chandler last week. Desert Vista is led by running back Jarek Hilgers, who is avegaging 100 yards rushing per game and getting steady play from quarterback Matt Young.
Other games of interest involving East Valley and southern Arizona schools this week:
DESERT RIDGE (5-1) AT BASHA (5-1): Desert Ridge secured a win over a marquee contender last week in crushing fashion (31-8 win over Red Mountain). If the Jaguars continue to ground-and-pound they'll have a built-in weapon to slow Basha's potent offense and playmakers. This is prime time for Basha to notch a win over a team among the list of first-layer of contenders --Hamilton, Brophy, Desert Vista, Chandler, Mountain Pointe, Red Mountain and Desert Ridge.
MOUNTAIN VIEW (4-2) AT RED MOUNTAIN (5-1): Knocking off previously unbeaten Pinnacle would have to rank as Mountain View's top achievement thus far in the Chad DeGrenier-era. It's recharged hopes of Mountain View returning to postseason. The Toros, however, are likely to need two wins among their final four games, which also include Highland, Mountain Pointe and Mesa. Red Mountain figures to be stoked for this one not only because of the rivarly, but due to the thumping it absorbed from Desert Ridge last week.
HIGHLAND (4-2) AT DESERT MOUNTAIN (6-0): Highland's defense -- its strong suit -- will be the key component if an upset isin the offing. Desert Mountain is the last unbeaten team in D-I and has gone about it with a prolific passing game and an ability to win late or in a tight game. The pass-catch combo of Kyle Allen to Mark Andrews has been nearly unstoppable. Highland played decent defense in its loss to Basha and has played the run tough save vs. Desert Ridge. Desert Mountain isn't devoid of a running game. The Wolves rely on Adam Cooper, who is averaging almost 100 yard per game.
TEMPE (5-1) AT CAMPO VERDE (4-2): Tempe High's turnaround from 1-9 last year to their current winning mark is one of the highlights of the 2012 season. The turnaround has been tarnished a bit by the forfeit and extracurriculars of the Saguaro game in Week 3, butalso has served as a lift in school spirit for Tempe's oldest high school. Campo Verde is one of the youngest schools in D-III having openedin 2009. The Coyotes are trying to build on last year's postseason appearance as a No. 16 seed. Campo Verde is bracing for a test from Tempe.The game likely won't remotely resemble last year's 29-14 Campo Verde victory.
WILLCOX (5-1) AT THATCHER: (5-1): Former East Valley assistant coach Dave Jeffries is off to a good start leading always-competitive Thatcher in this D-V clash. Jeffries, who made coaching stops as an assistant at various levels in the Gilbert district at Mesquite, Desert Ridge and Campo Verde high schools, has watched the Eagles pound their way to success thus far. A loss to Morenci, one of only three unbeaten teams left in D-V in Week 2. is the lone blemish. Willcox, also has a new coach in Joe Garcia. Willcox's lone loss also took place in Week 2 to Benson. Last year Thatcher prevailed 15-14 and went on to the D-V playoffs where it lost in the opening round to San Tan Foothills. Willcox also qualified for the playoffs and bowed in the first round to Round Valley.