Upsets highlight AZ high school football championships

There is little in life that is more unpredictable than high school sports.  Saturday’s Arizona state football championship games illustrated that point perfectly.

Sure, there were the expected outcomes…

Chaparral High School won its third straight state title, beating Cienega High School in the Division II finale, 37-14… Saguaro High wrapped up its second consecutive crown by holding off Cactus High School in a 31-23 Division III victory… and Blue Ridge High School won its second championship in the last three years by rolling over rival Show Low High, 35-14, in the Division IV match-up.

But who could have anticipated Hamilton High School losing for the first time in 54 games, suffering an upset at the hands of a team it had beaten by 25 points earlier in the season?  A Division I win over Desert Vista High would have enabled Hamilton to set a state record by adding a fourth consecutive state championship.

Or how about Yuma Catholic finally getting the best of Northwest Christian in the Division V championship, upsetting the top-seeded Crusaders, 21-19, for the first time in two years?

A couple of Yuma seniors took over the scoring responsibilities in their final prep game, with quarterback Tommy Pistone throwing for 151 yards and a touchdown, and running back Kody Hazelett contibuting 153 rushing yards.

But it was another senior that put the lid on the win, when Yuma linebacker Tyler Moreno covered a Crusader fumble with a minute-and-a-half left in the game.

However, the shocking upset of heavily-favored Hamilton had to be the story of the night.

Even harder to believe, Desert Vista was in complete control throughout the game, rolling to a 21-0 lead at the half and keeping the pedal to the metal the rest of the way to run up more points than has ever been scored against this Hamilton team.  The 45-19 finale was a merciful ending to a game of complete domination.

And to make that point total even more impressive, consider that the Huskies’ defense has been holding teams to less than 10 points all season long.  Desert Vista ran up 361 yards of total offense.

Hamilton’s QB Blake Kemp did pick up 267 yards in the air and accounted for three touchdowns.  But the Thunder offense had the ball for almost twice as long as Hamilton, enabling quarterback Hunter Rodriguez to pick apart the Hamilton secondary for 177 yards and the ground game to accumulate another 184 yards, paced by Michael Arredondo’s 70 yards on 13 carries.

The game will go down in the record books as one of the most stunning upsets in Arizona high school football – not just for the fact that it happened at all, but because Desert Vista accomplished it in such a dominating fashion.

For Hamilton, the last winning streak started in September of 2008.  Now it will be another eight months before the Huskies can try to get another started.

But now that the Huskies have lost their cloak of invincibility, beating them should become easier going forward.