No head coach? No problem for Hamilton HS football team

<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons above -->
                <div>
                    <a class="addthis_button" href="//addthis.com/bookmark.php?v=300" addthis:url='http://phxfan.com/2015/09/no-head-coach-no-problem-for-hamilton-hs-football-team/' addthis:title='No head coach? No problem for Hamilton HS football team'>
                        <img src="//cache.addthis.com/cachefly/static/btn/v2/lg-share-en.gif" width="125" height="16" alt="Bookmark and Share" style="border:0"/>
                    </a>
                </div>  Football programs like the one at Hamilton High School in Chandler are often referred to as “machines” because they have built a system that succeeds year after year.  Push […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
                <div>
                    <a class="addthis_button" href="//addthis.com/bookmark.php?v=300" addthis:url='http://phxfan.com/2015/09/no-head-coach-no-problem-for-hamilton-hs-football-team/' addthis:title='No head coach? No problem for Hamilton HS football team'>
                        <img src="//cache.addthis.com/cachefly/static/btn/v2/lg-share-en.gif" width="125" height="16" alt="Bookmark and Share" style="border:0"/>
                    </a>
                </div>

 

Football programs like the one at Hamilton High School in Chandler are often referred to as “machines” because they have built a system that succeeds year after year.  Push a button and it starts gobbling up wins.

Last week’s Hamilton victory would indicate there might be some validity to that line of thought.

The Huskies’ machine was running on auto-pilot since their head coach wasn’t on the sidelines.  And, with all due respect to the staff of assistants that took over, it’s not the same as having the head honcho running the show.

Steve Belles didn’t wait until the Centennial High School varsity team arrived for their match-up on Thursday night.  He was on the sidelines on Tuesday to watch his program’s freshman team take on the Coyotes, which turned out to be a mistake.  An argument with a referee in that game resulted in a one-game suspension, which meant he would be watching the varsity game in front of a television set instead of along the sidelines, temporarily turning the reins over to his offensive coordinator, Deke Schutes.

Belles, who is in his 10th year as head coach, dodged the bullet on this one.  But just barely.

This was a big game for both teams, a high-profile showdown between power teams with a lot at stake. Centennial was ranked No. 2 in Division I going into the game and Hamilton was right on the Coyotes’ heels in third place.

Belles knew how difficult this game would be.  After losing the first game of the season against California prep power Long Beach Poly by just one point, Centennial had reeled off three straight wins by a combined score of 124-35 – and had a bye week to prepare for the Huskies.

A loss for Hamilton would have magnified a foolish mistake by a seasoned coach who should have been more careful.

This game could have gone either way.  Down just a score in the final minute of the game, Centennial drove the ball to the Hamilton 19-yard line before turning it over on downs to give the Huskies the 34-27 victory.

The win kept alive Hamilton’s unbeaten record of six straight wins, while Centennial drops to 3-2.

Hamilton dominated in the first half of the game, but took just a 14-7 lead into the locker room.  While Centennial kept in the game throughout, the Huskies held their early lead and never relinquished it.

They tried to bury the Coyotes when the second half opened, as quarterback Travis Lockhart tossed a couple of touchdown passes to Kaleb Pitts and Jawhar Jordan to mount a 28-7 advantage.

But the Coyotes came back from the edge when Quentin Gomez turned a 69-yard run into a score and quarterback Isaac Steele capitalized on a Hamilton miscue on the following kickoff that gave the Huskies the ball back on their own five-yard line, scoring on the first play from scrimmage to narrow the Huskies’ lead to 28-20 after a failed point-after attempt.

Hamilton added a couple of Dylan Brown field goals, from 47 and 43 yards out, that provided the insurance needed to hold off the Coyotes, who scored once more when Anthony Ramirez pulled in a a 31-yard pass for Centennial’s final score with just over four minutes remaining.

The Huskies should move up to No. 2 in the Division I rankings, behind Chandler High.  If both schools hold their respective 1-2 positions, the final game of the regular season between those two teams should be the most-anticipated of the year.

October 30.  Mark it on your calendars.