Since the Huskies and Wolves began playing against each other 14 years ago, Hamilton has dominated the series, winning by an average score of 32-10, and knocking Chandler out of the playoffs on three separate occasions. Last Friday’s 26-16 victory over Hamilton marked the shattering of a glass ceiling for the Wolves’ football program, allowing the players to believe for themselves that their time on the gridiron is more than a way to stay on shape for track season. The victory almost slipped through their fingers, however, as Sam Sasso led a gritty 4th quarter drive, connecting with Elijah Williams on a TD pass to take a 16-13 with 1:12 remaining.
Bryce Perkins and the Wolves responded with a drive that is destined to be the stuff of legend. Chandler worked their way down the field with a series of short passes, converting a 4th and short on a Chase Lucas run that set up the game winning TD catch by senior WR Dionte Sykes. “You’ve gotta pull through for your team,” Sykes told C-Town Rivals reporter Fabian Ardaya. “When they work that hard for you throughout the whole game, you’ve gotta do it.”
Chandler (4-2) faces Gilbert (1-5) this Friday in the what will be the first game in a journey to break though a second glass ceiling, this one in the form of a state championship.
Hamilton (4-2) gets no relief, facing Basha (4-2), their 7th consecutive opponent with a .500 or above record. Basha comes off a week where they asserted their dominance over a their biggest rival, beating Perry 49-0.
Basha and Perry didn’t meet on the varsity football field until 4 years into Perry’s existence as a school, and in that meeting, the Pumas won 56-38, putting up over 600 yards of offense. The Bears are still sore over that first meeting, and despite evening the series at 1-1 last year, they still wanted a dominant victory to show establish where they think Perry belongs in the CUSD pecking order.
Basha forced two Perry turnovers near the goal line early on, and never let the Pumas threaten again. Highlights include Zach Werlinger passes to Joe Storm and Doc O’Connor, with O’Connor scoring a second TD on an 87 yard run. The “Battle for Val Vista” also marked the return of star RB Rajhan Meriwether, who had missed most of the last 3 games due to injury. Meriwether made the most of his 11 carries, scoring once. For Perry, if any part of their shutout could be considered positive, backup QB Alec Monte showed that he has the arm to lead the Pumas for the rest of the season while Austin Nightingale recovers from injury.
Seton Catholic moved to 5-1 Friday with a 60-20 win over Florence, and senior QB Kyle Johnson had a game to remember. Johnson completed 12 of 19 passes for 249 yards and 5 TDs, and ran for an additional two scores. Every week the Sentinels seem to show flashes of talent from a new player. This week, sophomore Brandon Johnson caught two TD passes, and had 159 yards of total offense. On defense, Johnson added an interception and a forced fumble. Next week, Seton Catholic faces undefeated Coolidge High.