Hamilton High football enjoying the ‘celebrity’ perks

So, what do you get when you’re a high school football team that has won 40 straight games and just become the first 5A team in Arizona to win three consecutive state titles?

No, not a trip to Disneyland.  Although that would be nice.

How about a chance to pick your own opponent next season, and then play your 2012 opening game in Dublin?

No, not Dublin, Ohio.  The original Dublin… in Ireland.

Of course, we’re talking about Hamilton High School in Chandler, the team called the Huskies – and for good reason.  Their offensive line this year averaged over 300 pounds.

According to an article by Scott Bordow in The Arizona Republic, 5A-I Hamilton is trying to line up a game next season with Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, the 4A-I state champion that is considered the other dominant big-school team in the state.

The game isn’t on either school’s 2011 schedule, since they’re in different classifications, but the two programs evidently figure the Arizona football fans deserve an opportunity to see which is the better team.  So they’re each trying to drop an opponent from their schedules to make room for a match-up in the fall.

First, they have to convince the designated opponents, and then get the approval from the Arizona Interscholastic Association to make the switch.

While they’re doing that, Hamilton is already making plans to open their 2012 season against a high school from California in a game that will be played in Ireland.

The Huskies, who have been ranked among the top 25 high school teams in the country the past two seasons, are taking advantage of their celebrity status.  They have been invited to travel to Dublin to meet Notre Dame High School from Sherman Oaks, Calif., in an Aug. 31 event that is part of the Global Ireland Football Tournament.

They will play in one of three double headers during the same weekend of the college game that will be played there between the University of Notre Dame and Navy, in what organizers call a five-day ‘educational football tour.’  Hamilton and Notre Dame HS are the only high school participants confirmed so far, with eight others to be announced next week.

Notre Dame has been one of the most successful high school programs in California for nearly 20 years, averaging almost 11 wins a season and capturing 14 league championships and four state titles.

But last season the Knights finished with an uncharacteristic 2-8 record.

Hamilton, on the other hand, ran the table last season, finishing 15-0 and winning their sixth state title during this decade.  The Huskies have won their region championship the past nine years and 10 out of the last 11 years.

But August of 2012 is a long way off.  Notre Dame will likely be back on track by that time and Hamilton may not be as formidable an opponent as they have been the past few years.

The Huskies go into next season with a new quarterback, since this year’s starting QB, Kyren Poe, will have graduated.  They will also be without senior wide receiver, Tanner Clay, who had over 1,000 yards in receptions, and running back, Jai Johnson, who averaged better than seven yards a carry.  And the anchor for the offensive line, Christian Westerman, who is the top college prospect in the state, will be playing for the Auburn Tigers in the fall.

Both teams will have to dig deep to find the coin needed to make the trip to the Emerald Isle.  Notre Dame has already estimated that it will cost about $2,500 per person for the 75 players and coaches and 100 band members it will send.  And throw in a dozen cheerleaders as well.

The Knights have already begun their fund-raising.  And they got a big boost when former NBA great, Magic Johnson, gave the school the use of his 10-person suite at the Staples Center, to be auctioned off for one of the Lakers’ games.

So, how about it, Mr. Sarver?  What could the Phoenix Suns offer for a Huskies’ auction?