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Hamilton's slow start shakes up Arizona football pecking orderSep 13, 2012 The outlook for Division I football after three weeks is much different than the previous decade or so: Someone other than Hamilton (Chandler) just might be considered the favorite.
Right now Mountain Pointe (Phoenix) and Red Mountain (Mesa) have the nod after impressive beginnings, while Hamilton is just 1-2 after the program's first 0-2 start.
The Huskies, who have made six state finals (winning four) since 2005, lost to Mountain Pointe to open the year and then lost in Ireland to Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks, Calif.) before ending a three-game losing streak, dating back to the state title game in 2011, by pounding Notre Dame (Scottsdale, Ariz.).
The thing is the Huskies' schedule doesn't have much let-up from here on out. In years past, most would have looked at their schedule, which includes undefeated Desert Ridge (Mesa) on Friday, and realized it is a tough road but also knew Hamilton would come through it unscathed.
Now there is a hint of doubt.
"There are no easy games," Hamilton coach Steve Belles told the Arizona Republic. "There's a huge difference in power points between being 2-2 and 1-3. We don't have any cupcakes. We are in unfamiliar territory."
After this week's game against the Jaguars, the Huskies have undefeated Chandler and Basha (Chandler) and defending state champion Desert Vista (Phoenix) in the coming weeks.
The Huskies are always well coached and seemingly get better as the year goes on, so it wouldn't be surprising to see them run the table. But right now there are a couple teams that are dealing with being the top target.
Red Mountain put up crazy offensive numbers – 84 points and 960 yards - the first two weeks but figured to take a step back against Brophy College Prep (Phoenix), only to knock off the then-top ranked Broncos last week. The Mountain Lions appear to have the easiest schedule (one playoff team from 2011) the rest of the way, so the numbers for quarterback Mason Thorman (976 yards, 9 TDs), wide receiver Drake Pierre (21 catches, 456 yards, 4 TDs) and Aeron Carr (20 catches, 274 yards, 2 TDs) figure to continue.
The more impressive team, at least in terms of victories, has been Mountain Pointe, which beat Hamilton to start the year and Desert Vista last week to supplant Hamilton as the favorite in the early going.
"That's the next thing we have to learn," Pride coach Norris Vaughan said. "We are on a lofty perch and we have to learn how to play that way. No one has had to play that way in this division the last four years except for Hamilton. We will see if we can handle it."
The Pride's defense has been special, posting shutouts in the second half in all three games (42 total points), and seems to be gaining confidence every week.
"I think teams have trouble matching up with our speed," said junior defensive end Charlie Trevino, who has three sacks. "Everyone on the defense except our nose guard can run at least a 4.8 or 4.9 (in the 40-yard dash)."
The offense has been keyed by running back Garette Craig (438 yards from scrimmage, 6 total touchdowns), junior quarterback Antonio Hinojosa (483 yards, 4 scores, 1 interception), junior wide receiver Jalen Brown (16 catches, 165 yards, 2 touchdowns) and a stout offensive line, which includes recent UCLA commit Kenneth Lacy.
With that said, the schedule still has a couple difficult matchups as Chandler and Brophy lurk in the distance.
"They are really good teams," Vaughan said. "And they will be a lot like the games we just played in Hamilton and Desert Vista. Even if we play well those games can go either way."
Clearly a lot can and will happen over the next seven weeks, but for once the Huskies aren't the lead dog.
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Jason P. Skoda, a former Arizona Republic and current Ahwatukee Foothills News staff writer, is an 18-year sports writing veteran. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 480-272-2449.