Hamilton Looks Shaky In Opening Night Win

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The evening was hot, muggy, and full of surprises. Hamilton, 5a perennial powerhouse and arguably the best high school football team the state of Arizona has ever seen was taking the field to get ready for another blowout win. All they had to do was show up, take care of all the hype, run by the Red Mountain Mountain Lions who were only 5-5 a year ago. Sounds easy for Hamilton right? Many people thought so coming in. A team that is getting ready to square off against a national powerhouse in Ohio should have no problem with a sub par team. A curve ball was thrown at the Hamilton football team. This was one of those curves that are hittable, but very distinct.


            Opening up the game, they showed us high school football fans some of the things that we were accustomed to seeing in the previous years. Just one play is all it took for Brad Gruner and Tony Simms to hook up on a 51 yard touchdown pass. Almost everyone in the building, including myself, thought that this was going to be a laugher. After all, Hamilton was on the field. But, in the midst of it all, the Mountain Lions tamed the Huskies pretty well.


            Just a couple minutes into the second quarter, the Mountain Lions struck back with a pass play of their own to tie the score at 7 which held up going into halftime. Not sure if anyone in the stadium could have predicted that first half to go as it did. The Mountain Lions had forced three Hamilton turnovers and frustrated Gruner most of the half. At that point in the game, coming out of halftime with a bang was on both team's minds.


            Both teams came out in the second half with stellar defensive plays. It was Hamilton who struck first when Covaughn Deboskie took it in from two yards out to take the lead at 14-7. That was a play that turned out interesting because Gruner seemed to want the ball just as much as Deboskie on the veer option hand off over left tackle. After tough competition, Deboskie stole the ball from his own teammate and muscled his way in for the score. You talk about determination.


            Both teams exchanged minor drives and the tables seemed to have turned slightly when Hamilton was stopped down on the Mountain Lion 22 yard line following a missed field goal. Down 14-7 with only six minutes left in the game, Red Mountain Coach Jim Jones knew that was his golden opportunity. Unfortunately for him and his team, their drive stalled early and they were forced to punt trapped deep in their own territory.


            Gruner showed good pocket passing skills as he led Hamilton, with a short field, to the endzone one last time. Once again, there was confusion on who was going to run it in but finally Gruner snuck it in with help from his big offensive lineman.


            Hamilton had taken care of business, sloppily, strangely, and with a load of pressure, but a win is a win and they will correct and move on to next week.


            "I struggled most of the night. It was exciting to get the win. Even though it was ugly, I got it done tonight," Gruner said with a slight smile.


            Yes, Hamilton got it done tonight. They chalked up a tally in the win column. The question is, did they really? This kind of play will not get them close to a win against Massilion in Ohio. As other people would agree, maybe they need to focus on winning in Arizona this year, after tonight, it seems sleep will not come as easy for this Chandler school. And neither will the wins.

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