Hamilton HS in new role in THE game tonight…underdog

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                </div>Tonight’s big game – arguably the biggest of the regular season in Division I – between the Mountain Pointe Pride and Hamilton Huskies will offer high school football fans a […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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Tonight’s big game – arguably the biggest of the regular season in Division I – between the Mountain Pointe Pride and Hamilton Huskies will offer high school football fans a rarity seldom seen in this state… Hamilton as the underdog.

The Huskies, who have won seven state titles in the last 10 years, had been the No. 1 ranked team all season until last week when Mountain Pointe moved to the top of the heap after soundly beating then-No. 3 Chandler High, 38-14.

And that ought to be just enough to tick off the Huskies and light a fire under the reigning Division I champions.  Oh yeah, there’s also the matter of last year’s state championship game, when Hamilton beat Mountain Pointe for the title – when the Pride were proudly wearing the mantle of the No. 1 seed in the playoffs.  So throw revenge into the mix, too.

Both teams have injuries to key players.  An elbow injury suffered last week has left Mountain Pointe without its star running back, Wesley Payne, who also plays linebacker and is the heart of the team’s defense.  Hamilton also lost its top linebacker, Santana Sterling, and one of its best offensive linemen in Casey Tucker, as well as several of its better receivers.  No word yet on whether any of them will be back in the line-up tonight.

But this will still be a game between two nationally-ranked teams that are deep in talent and capable of overcoming a few injuries.  Mountain Pointe jumped this week from No. 17 to No. 9 in the MaxPreps Top 25 rankings and is also ranked No. 15 in the USA Today poll and No. 13 by Rivals.  Hamilton comes into the game with a No. 21 ranking by Rivals.

Hamilton hasn’t looked like the dominant team of old lately, struggling in its last two wins over Pinnacle High School (24-20) and Liberty High from Nevada (14-10) and not putting up the kind of numbers its fans expect to see each game.

But Mountain Pointe got the season started with a huge upset win over Nevada’s national powerhouse Bishop Gorman High School in the nationally-televised Sollenberger Kick-off Classic and has used that momentum to build a 4-0 record, outscoring opponents 264-49.

Last week, the Pride dismantled the No. 3 team in Division I as they beat Chandler, 38-14, with a running game that ground out 47 carries and piled up nearly 300 yards – while QB Antonio Hinojosa passed for another 138 yards.  And its defense came up with a fumble recovery and an interception.

Add to that the fact that tonight’s game will be played at Mountain Pointe and it’s not difficult to see why the Pride are generally regarded as the favorites.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean this one will be a true preview of what is to come should the teams meet in the playoffs in November, when both teams could be playing with healthy rosters.

Just keep in mind last season when Mountain Pointe upset Hamilton in the first game on the schedule, beating the Huskies on a late field goal.  Three months later, the Huskies exacted revenge in the state championship game.

So enjoy the game tonight, but don’t expect this to be the last we hear from these two teams.