A good grudge game is always a fun addition to any high school football schedule. And this week we’ve got a couple that should be interesting.
In 5A, mighty Hamilton High School (7-0) travels down the interstate to Salpointe Catholic High School in Tucson to take on the also-undefeated Lancers. Hamilton ran up a 45-2 score on Salpointe last year and are the only team to beat the Lancers in the last 15 games.
In 4A, Notre Dame Prep in Scottsdale is back in its old state-title-winning form of a couple of years ago and undefeated so far this season. They will host Williams Field HS from Gilbert, with vivid memories from last year’s match-up, when the Black Hawks ended Notre Dame’s 28-game winning streak.
In the Hamilton v. Salpointe game, the Lancers are just the latest to put Hamilton to the test. Last week, the Chandler powerhouse won its nationally-televised cross-town rivalry with Chandler High School, the No. 2 team in 5A-I.
Chandler jumped out to the first lead in the game featured on ESPN2, holding off the Huskies until Hamilton quarterback, Kyren Poe, hit Jacob Andrews for the go-ahead score and a 17-14 halftime lead. But the huge Hamilton offensive line wore down the Wolves in the second half and the Huskies rolled to a 38-20 win.
Chandler’s highly-recruited signal-caller, Brett Hundley, filled the night air with footballs, throwing 43 times to get to 210 yards passing. But Poe countered with 172 yards on 17 attempts and three scores, while teammate Tanner Clay accounted for two of those scores, the Huskies’ first TD and then a 71-yard pass play for a third-quarter score; he finished with 175 yards on six receptions.
This week, Hamilton will be dealing with a team coming off a 20-16 win over Sierra Vista Buena HS, in which Salpointe rolled up 248 yards of rushing offense. The Lancers don’t have the kind of potent offense that you get with Hamilton, but they consistently score 20+ points a game.
Their senior quarterback, Jordan Scelfo, throws for 175 yards a game and the young running back, sophomore Johnny Pena, gobbles up another 138 yards on the ground.
But neither Scelfo or Pena has experienced the kind of pressure they will face against the Huskies. This will likely be another lopsided victory for Hamilton.
Meanwhile, much farther north, Notre Dame Prep will host Williams Field at Scottsdale Community College, where the Saints play their home games. Both bring undefeated records to the fray.
Williams Field is coming off a rather easy victory last week over Seton Catholic, as they ran up an early lead and then cruised to a convincing 45-14 win behind the running of Alex Howard. The running back carried 11 times for 168 yards, exploding in the second half with runs of 54 and 80 yards.
The Black Hawks have a high-powered offense to rely on Friday against Notre Dame. They managed just 14 points against Desert Edge HS a couple of weeks ago, but averaged 56 points in their other four games this year.
Their senior quarterback, Tom Ross, is completing 62 percent of his passes and averages almost 100 yards a game in the air. The leading rusher is a junior named Alex Howard, who averages 11 points a game and is more than halfway to adding a 1,000-yard season to his resume.
And Notre Dame is no slouch when it comes to putting points on the board. The Saints are averaging 42 points per game on a good balanced attack, with 217 yards per game on the ground and another 190 in the air.
The Saints’ junior quarterback, Jordan Gehrke, is throwing at a 183 yards-per-game clip and has accounted for seven TDs this season. And he has plenty of targets, having hit 10 different receivers so far, led by Brian Poupore, a senior wide receiver who has 13 catches for 230 yards.
And when Gehrke isn’t throwing the ball, he’s handing off to his senior running back, Korey Jones, who averages 5.6 yards each time he carries.
This one is likely to light up the scoreboard – which makes a good grudge match all the more fun.