Hamilton v. Centennial

Hamilton storms back to defeat Centennial in battle of #1's

It was the game everyone had talked about all summer.  Defending 5A-2 state champions, the Centennial Coyotes traveling cross town to take on the defending 5A-1 champs, the Hamilton Huskies, winners of three of the past four big school championships.  When the dust settled, and the final snap was taken, about the only thing you could do was take a deep breath and go "WOW". 


This game had a bit of everything.  Dazzling plays, penalties, strategy, mistakes, and a controversial call that might have been the difference in the game. 


Centennial took the opening kickoff and after a fine return by junior John Hughes gave them good field position around midfield,  capitalized on a Scott Burgett to Adam Shipley toss and grab.  Hamilton's Zach Moore blocked the extra point and the Coyotes led 6-0. 


After holding the Huskies on downs and forcing a punt, Centennial's Jarrell Barbour, bound for ASU next year, took Moore's punt on the near sideline, went cross field and outran the Hamilton special team for an electrifying 71 yard punt return for a touchdown that set off a wild celebration on the Coyote sideline.  Another Moore block of an extra point did little to deter the visitor's enthusiasm.  12 points up and more to come. 


Another stand by the Centennial defense and, again, it was Barbour who came up with a big play.  Burgett connected with him on a fade to the end zone and it looked like the improbable could happen.  Despite a missed 2 point conversion, the Coyotes had an 18 -0 lead and, best of all, momentum on their side. 


The Husky defense then made a stand, stopping Centennial on fourth down and taking over at their own 35 yard line.  Covaughn Deboskie scored the first of his 3 touchdowns to put Hamilton on the board.  Centennial then made the first of what would turn out to be several critical mistakes on their part.  A bobbled reverse attempt turned the ball back over to the Huskies, where they scored on a nifty 18 yard option to fullback Nathan Jeffrey.  The Coyotes failed to cover the ensuing kickoff and Hamilton again converted on another Deboskie TD after senior signal caller Justin Peters and all-everything Gerell Robinson hooked up on long pass inside the five yard line.  Three scores in three minutes and the Huskies had the lead for the first time 21-18. 


The Coyotes drove the ball down the field and with under 10 seconds to play in the half, they went to the Barbour well again, another fade to the end zone that Jarrell snared to scored the apparent go ahead touchdown.  The flag on the play said otherwise.  The guys in the zebra stripes whistled Barbour for an offensive pass interference call that was questionable at best.  Halftime score, Hamilton 21 Centennial 18.


The second half was an opportunity for the Hamilton defense to show it's teeth.  Harassing Burgett and shutting down the running game, the Huskies forced their will upon the Coyotes.  Burgett threw three second half interceptions, one less than all last season, under some big time pressure from the likes of Ruben Rubio, Elliot Harper, and  junior Michael Sylvestre.  Hamilton kept the ball on the ground most of the third quarter, Deboskie scoring the last of his touchdowns to expand the lead.  And Peters and Robinson hooked up on the final score, a 33 yarder in the fourth that the uber-athletic Gerell picked up just off the ground and took it to the end zone.  Hamilton was able to prevent Barbour and the rest of the Coyote playmakers from making anything happen in the second half.  Final score:  Hamilton 35 Centennial 18. 


Lots of game balls to give out in this game.  Barbour was probably the best player on the field.  He did it all, returning kicks, catching passes, covering receivers, and dishing out some punishment defensively. He could be something special on the next level.  TE/LB Adam Shipley was another Coyote who did it on both sides of the line.  He played a great game. For Hamilton, give a ball to the Huskies coaching staff who didn't panic when they went down 18 points, keeping their team composed.  Also, linebacker Zach Moore deserves a ball for blocking the two extra points and keeping his punts away from Barbour after the touchdown return.  He also played tough defense.  Deboskie was solid, running for over 100 yards to go with his three scores.  And Peters did a solid job taking over for Robinson in the first half.  The senior isn't fancy, he just gets the job done.  Oh yeah, don't forget the Husky secondary, who picked off the three Burgett passes in the second half. 


We won't see it, but what a rematch this would be later in the season.  On a humid night in Chandler, the valley of the Sun got to see what Arizona high school football was all about.   

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