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Arizona football state championship notes: Brown, Luke renew acquaintancesNov 20, 2012 The Seagulls must have been unstoppable.
Any Pop Warner team that has Hamilton senior and Notre Dame recruit Cole Luke and highly-sought after Mountain Pointe junior Jalen Brown has to be pretty potent.
"We had some good players that's for sure," Brown said. "It was a lot of fun."
The two were teammates in the early portions of their career and now they are facing each other in the Division I state championship game. They also had a little bit of interaction on Tuesday at Wolfley's Neighborhood Grill as the Arizona Interscholastic Association held press conferences heading into this weekend state football championships.
"It adds a little something off the field, but it doesn't mean anything once the game starts," said Brown, who has set school records for catches, yards and touchdowns for a season and career this season. "We were buddies and hung out and we will be after the game, but we are competitors first."
Luke had the same sentiments knowing he is going up against one the state's top recruits.
"It doesn't matter how many offers he has or highly recruited he is," Luke said. "I look at him as a regular receiver, because you have to."
Step by step
Frank Ogas moved to Morenci from Silver City, N.M., with the idea of retiring from coaching and settling into a comfortable life in southeastern Arizona.
But coaches coach.
Ogas, who coached mostly baseball at the high school level in Silver City and was the athletic director, ended up coaching the Pop Warner team with his son Frank as one of the players.
He eventually took over the junior high program and four years ago, when his son and his teammates on that Pop Warner team were freshman, started coaching at Morenci.
That group of kids, now seniors who have had Ogas as their head coach from pretty much the start of their careers, prepare to face Division V defending champion Northwest Christian.
"It's been pretty special," Ogas said. "I've been associated with them for seven years and have just seen them through their journey through high school.
"It's been more than a pleasure and a dream come true."
Centennial senior Wes Westbrook was proudly showing off what was no longer there.
Before he jumped into the chow line at Wolfley's, Westbrook took out his retainer and retold the story of how he lost his two top front teeth.
"We were at our California (preseason) camp doing some drills," he said, flashing the chompers that remained with a big smile. "(Fullback Jake Tarrant) came through the line and his forehead hit my mouth. I thought my nose was broken and there was blood everywhere.
"Coach (Richard Taylor) said, 'Wes, why are you screaming? Oh, never mind, you have no teeth.' "
Seton Catholic and Mountain Pointe are facing similar scenarios in that their players are experiencing the state championship game for the first time as a group.
Whereas their opponents — Blue Ridge for Seton Catholic in Division IV and Hamilton for Mountain Pointe in Division I — make it nearly every year.
"You have to play the team and not the tradition of that team," Seton Catholic coach Rex Bowser said. "Let's face it there is no other team that has done what Blue Ridge has done, not even Hamilton, but that doesn't matter.
"We are a good football team and so are they. We just have to play our game and not worry about how many trophies and rings they have because they can't bring them on the field with them."
The D-I game is a 12:07 p.m. kickoff on Saturday.
It's usually a day when the body is resting after the previous night's game.
So will the body clock be ready to go that early?
"It's the least of my concerns," Hamilton coach Steve Belles said. "We will practice at 8 a.m. on Thursday so they can spend the day with family on the holiday and then practice about 11 (a.m.) on Friday so they'll be in line, but I have no problem with it.
"It's like a college game and we will be ready to go."
No. 1 Northwest Christian (Phoenix) (12-1) vs. No. 2 Morenci (13-0), 3 p.m., Walkup Skydome
No. 1 Blue Ridge (Lakeside) (13-0) vs. No. 3 Seton Catholic (Chandler) (12-1), 7 p.m., Walkup Skydome
No. 1 Mountain Pointe (Phoenix) (12-1) vs. No. 3 Hamilton (Chandler) (11-2), University of Phoenix Stadium, 7 p.m.
No. 1 Desert Edge (Goodyear) (13-0) vs. No. 2 Queen Creek (13-0), 3 p.m., Sun Devil Stadium
No. 4 Centennial (Peoria) (12-1) vs. No. 3 Ironwood Ridge (Tucson) (12-1), 7 p.m., Sun Devil Stadium
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.