No Clear Cut Favorite in 2006?

Basha, Hamilton, Red Mountain, Desert Vista, Chandler or Gilbert? The start of the 2006 season has brought more questions than answers...

Well the smell of high school football is officially in the air. Here in 5A we saw Hamilton squeak one out against Red Mountain, 21-7, and Basha roll over Tucson 45-0 on opening night Friday. What is appearing to be more interesting is the display of talent throughout class 5A. After seeing Hamilton win in a not so dominant fashion, one must agree that this could be the year everyone has been waiting for. Hamilton does not appear to be as dominant as in the past three years, and with that comes the chance for maybe the most competitive season we have seen in a long time. Scratch out the 2004 final when the Huskies from Hamilton stormed Mountain Ridge 31-7, and you have some very competitive state finals over the last few years. Hamilton's name is there on all of those box scores. They have been the team with the biggest target on their backs, and have done extremely well. They hit a road block against Brophy this past December, but that still did not change the minds of many that this team is the greatest ever in Arizona; and have created the most complete dynasty of all time.


"Hamilton came into the picture after their first season. I was fortunate enough to see them play, play against them, and acquaint myself with many of those players from the past four years. Those guys could flat out play!" Says Craig Day, former Gilbert DB from 2001-2003.


As we recall Friday night, we see a talented, but inexperienced bunch that seems to not have settled down. Hamilton players, coaches and fans have been spoiled with very easy wins over the past couple years and we see them win by 14 points and it comes to be a big shock to the state. That may be for all the right reasons. The Mountain Lions had just as many opportunities to win as Hamilton did.


Red Mountain was 5-5 last season and that was uncharacteristic of them. Many believed they were a better team than their record showed; but that can often be argued with any sports team in this day and age; and the possibly labeled "former" powerhouse Hamilton barely managed to narrowly escape them.


Unfolding over the next couple months may or may not be a very popular prediction, but I'll lay it out there anyway. I do not see Hamilton going undefeated, especially after seeing their lackadaisical performance against the Mountain Lions. I see them losing to Gilbert in region play, and even Highland may challenge them to a tough finish. A very easy win over Desert Ridge will come even if they do not play their starters, and Mesquite is not a push over. Oh, and there is this school down the street that is not too bad either, and that is Chandler High. Folks, you could and probably will see Hamilton lose one, two or maybe even three games this season. To most teams in the state, a 7-3 record is very good; but Hamilton fans will tell you otherwise. If Hamilton fails to go undefeated, or lose more than one game, it will naturally and distinctly be viewed as a failure of a season. Pretty high expectations and two state titles out of the last three seasons contribute mightily.


What is the relevancy to other teams in 5A? It is a very plain and simple answer. Chance. Chance is now in every team's vocabulary for the next couple months. All the good teams actually have a "chance" against Hamilton. They have a "chance" to challenge Hamilton. They have a "chance" to disarm this raging beast. They have a "chance" because it does not look like you have to be a beast to beat them. It is a matter of men verses men, not beast verses men as it has been in years past when Hamilton straps it up and takes the field in their pretty Under Armour uniforms.


All the Mountain Views, and the Westwoods, and the Gilberts, and the Salpointes, and the rest of a list that has grown bigger than that in previous years, have their best "chance" to take it to the Huskies this season. Oh yeah, and there is this team from Ohio that is pretty good too; and they will have a "chance" to show the Huskies a thing or two.


Don't get me wrong, Hamilton might still do what they do best and win games. But you have to see that they will not be beating everyone by 40 points going into halftime. Their starters might actually have to break a sweat this season; and to opposing teams that could mean something.


I would like to wish Hamilton good luck this season. They are still the team to beat, but when they lose this year before the playoffs, I will be the first to tell you I told you so.

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