The Chandler was able to do something earlier this season that hadn’t been done in 17 attempts, defeat their Arizona Avenue rivals, the Hamilton Huskies.
But to get to the state championship game, they had to go through the Huskies yet again and unfortunately for the Wolves, they came up short. The defending champion will have the opportunity to defend their crown as they defeated the Wolves 21-17.
“This year, I dont think we have faced adversity like we have faced,” Hamilton head coach Steve Belles said after the game. “Injuries and different stuff this year. So the journey has been unbelievable. This group of men and what they have accomplished is unbelievable and I am so proud of them.”
This game was as good as advertised and then some. After both teams scored early in the first, the defensive took over for the rest of the first half making the halftime score tied at seven.
Chandler would strike first in the second half on a field goal by Scott Knutson. The Wolves got into Husky territory because of a 52 yard run by super sophomore Chase Lucas.
Hamilton responded to that drive with a long of their own. They decided they were going to force Chandler to try and stop their powerful and durable rushing attack led by Tyrell Smith. Smith would carry the ball eight times on that drive, the eighth went for six and Hamilton took their first lead of the game, 14-10 late in the third.
“We just said we are going to pound the rock and that’s what we did,” Belles explained. “We had two great drives (in the second half) and I don’t think we threw any two touchdown drives we had and that’s a credit to our offensive line saying ‘lets get after it.'”
Chandler put together a hard fought long drive of their own. It was capped off by a Dionte Sykes rushing touchdown to give the Wolves a 17-14 lead with just 3:40 to go.
An unsportsmanlike penalty on the Wolves would give Hamilton the opportunity to tie or take lead on a short field starting at mid-field. With it being fourth and goal from the one, Belles decided to go for the win instead of the tie and it would pay off. Tyrell Smith would get his third score of the game to win it for Hamilton. Smith had 32 carries for 147 yards and the three touchdowns.
“We came this far and I couldn’t go out like that,” Smith said after the game. “I told the team I was going to score and that’s what I did.”
“We weren’t going for the tie, we were going for the win,” explained Belles. “And we went over Casey Tucker, our big left tackle and told him we are going to go right over you and we did. They made a great block and T. Smith did a great job putting it in the endzone.”
Hamilton will meet Mountain Pointe for the second consecutive year in the state championship game which will be at University of Phoenix Stadium on Saturday at 3:30pm.