Friday Night Rewind: One For The Ages

“We came up two yards short.”

Two schools separated by less than four miles played a classic Friday night in a game, where 90 points were scored, but was decided by two yards after Nick Arvay’s pass on the game’s final play (a untimed down) sailed out of the back of the end zone as the hosts streamed on to the field in jubilation.  

Chandler 42 Hamilton 38.

Huskies’ head coach Mike Zdebski’s post-game words to his team and myself were brief. His eyes red and teary. His team went into the Wolves’ den and took the fight to the three-time defending 6A champion in a game which featured a little bit of everything.

Hamilton jumped out to a 14-0 lead, led 28-14 at halftime and weathered every storm from the heavyweight champs but couldn’t quite knock out the neighborhood bully.

“Our kids persevered,” Chandler head coach Rick Garretson said, almost in relief after the win. “Hamilton played great. Coach Z. called a great game…that’s why we lift weights and do all the things that we do so we can keep our composure and come back and finish it off.”

In the end, Garretson’s finisher was Dae Dae Hunter. The senior running back put CHS’s offense on his back, unofficially rushing for 186 yards and four touchdowns.

The underrrated senior Arvay outplayed his junior counterpart Mikey Keene but both signal-callers balled best when the game was on the line. Keene’s clutch completions to Kyion Grayes set up Hunter’s heroics just moments before Arvay’s Hail Mary completion to Brady Shough, paired with a roughing the passer penalty, set up the dramatic finish.

If you’ve never experienced a high school game like that you simply won’t understand.

The vibe inside packed Austin Field was electric the moment you stepped under those Friday Night Lights.

The hitting was hard and the mood, at times, chippy but the respect both teams showed in the handshake line afterwards tells you quite a bit about why many consider “The Battle For Arizona Avenue” one of the best rivalries in the nation.

“I think we played very well,” Zdebski said. “I think we showed we’re a team that’s capable of being very successful.”

He’ll certainly get no argument from his neighbors to the north.

Thank you, both. 

It was one I’ll never forget.