The Chandler Wolves have been so close so many times. They have dealt with heartbreak time and time again in their battle over Arizona Avenue against the Hamilton Huskies and had come up show all 17 times they had faced.
That is until Friday night.
For the first time in the history of this matchup, the Wolves defeated the Huskies in what was one of the most exciting games seen in Arizona high school football in 2013. 26-16 was the final.
“Crazy, Crazy game,” said Chandler senior line backer J.R. Hunt. “We had up’s and down’s throughout the game but we played as a team and finally pulled it out for the first time in 17 years.”
“It’s an incredible feeling,” added Chandler Head Coach Shaun Aguano. “For my kids, for our families and what we have been through these last 15 years. I’ve been here for all of it. It’s just incredible.”
The start of the game looked like the same story but different year. The Wolves came out making mistakes on the special teams game which lead to nine un answered points in the first quarter. The score was nine to six at halftime.
Chandler’s defense would hold Hamilton scoreless for about three and a half quarters after that by containing the rushing attack of Tyrell Smith and Jerrion Acles and completely shutting down the Husky passing game.
“That was our main goal this year, to build our defense,” explained Aguano. “We played St. John’s Bosco real tough and tonight they shut them down. I am so happy for our kids.”
“We were really prepared this week,” mentioned Hunt. “We were all around ready for these guys.”
Finally the Wolves were able to get over the hump to take the lead on a touchdown run by quarterback Bryce Perkins. The Wolves players, coaches and fans were smelling victory leading 13-9 with under four minutes remaining.
“I had to do it because the defense was playing great the whole game,” said Perkins. “We hadn’t been producing on offense but we refocused on ourselves, they couldn’t stop us and we touched it in.”
Back in 2009, Hamilton orchestrated an unthinkable comeback on the Wolves capped off with a Kyren Poe touchdown catch in the back of the end zone as time expired to break the hearts of the Wolves.
Would they be able to do it again?
Hamilton quarterback Sam Sasso connected with senior wide receiver Elijah Williams on two big plays. The second was a 20 yard touchdown making the score 16-13 Hamilton with just over a minute left in the game.
This is where Chandler was supposed to come up short right?
“I was like ok, it’s game-time now,” Perkins mentioned. “Now we see what champions are made of.”
Led by Perkins, the Wolves moved the ball down the field in 30 seconds without any time outs. Perkins would connect with senior wide receiver and UCLA commit, Dionte Sykes for a 19 yard touchdown in the corner of the end zone putting the Wolves up 20-16 with just 13 seconds remaining.
“The way the defense was lined up I knew if I threw it, it was going to be a touchdown,” explained Perkins. “Dionte is such a great receiver and I knew he was going to give 110% to catch it.”
“When I saw them go up again, I had all those bad thoughts come into my head,” mentioned Aguano. “But to then get a touchdown back with no timeouts, it was resilient.”
Hamilton would then try to put something together in short order but on their first offensive play, senior J.R. Hunt would intercept Sasson and seal Chandler’s long awaited victory over Hamilton by returning it for six.
“It felt so good,” said Hunt. “I read it perfect and he threw it right to me and after that I didn’t want to stop running. It hasn’t completely sunk in yet but it is already an unbelievable feeling.”
“I am so happy for them and the Chandler community. I mean it is huge for us,” added Aguano. “People don’t understand how big this is. It is huge for us.”
After the game, the Wolves as a team performed the Haka for their fans at mid field. Check it out below: