Prep football: D-I unbeatens face big tests in season finale

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                </div>  There are two unbeaten teams left among the top-ranked teams in Division I.  Each has one more challenge to conquer to finish the 2015 season undefeated. Both games should […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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There are two unbeaten teams left among the top-ranked teams in Division I.  Each has one more challenge to conquer to finish the 2015 season undefeated.

Both games should be hotly-contested, but the one between the two Chandler cross-town rivals sitting at the top of the division will be the showcase match of the week – and perhaps even the season.

Mountain Pointe High in Phoenix, at 9-0, sits in third place and will travel to Mesa on Friday to take on Red Mountain High School for the last game of the regular season.

Last week, Mountain Pointe was challenged by Highland High, a 4-5 team that fell behind early after a Brandon Johnson field goal and a 10-yard TD run by Jayden Brooks, but stayed within striking distance until well into the fourth quarter.

Highland was coming off back-to-back losses.  Red Mountain is also a 4-5 team, but the Mountain Lions have won three out of their last four contests and are coming off the momentum of a 20-point victory over Mesa Mountain View High.

The Lions have averaged 36 points over those last four games and have been averaging 335 yards of offense through nine games.  Mountain Pointe’s defense will have to cope with an offense that relies heavily on the pass; senior quarterback Kyle Buckles has thrown for 1,406 yards and completes his passes with 62 percent accuracy.

This game has turned into one of the most important on the Mountain Pointe schedule.

But it pales in comparison to the importance of the game in Chandler between Hamilton High School and neighboring rival Chandler High.

The Hamilton Huskies are 9-0, but ranked second in Division I behind No. 1 Chandler.  But this is even bigger than the top two teams facing off against each other, with a first-place finish to the season on the line.

This is the Holy War.  This is the game both teams circle on the calendar as soon as new schedules are released each year.  For 15 years, Hamilton owned the rivalry by beating the Wolves 15 consecutive times.  Last year that all changed when Chandler beat the Huskies in the regular season, and then again when the two played for the Division I state championship.  It was the first state title in 65 years for Chandler.

To fuel the fires even more, when the Wolves won that first meeting during the regular season it was at Hamilton.  That snapped a 10-year streak of home wins for the Huskies.

The Wolves are preparing for Friday’s game with mixed emotions.  Their highly-prized college recruit, running back Chase Lucas, will be on the field for this game and hopefully at full strength.  The senior injured his knee in the second game of the season against national-power Bishop Gorman High in Las Vegas (the team’s only loss) and just returned to the starting lineup last week in a 28-6 victory over Brophy Prep, but saw limited time: eight carries for 46 yards.

Lucas, who rushed for 1,126 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2014, led the attack against Hamilton in last year’s title game, picking up 113 yards rushing and adding another 37 yards on four catches.

The return of Lucas, however, has been tempered with an injury to senior wide receiver N’Keal Harry.  The five-star recruit, who has played in all nine games and is averaging 18 yards a catch, went down in the second quarter of the Brophy game with what appeared to be a high ankle sprain.  He’s not expected to be ready for Hamilton.

Chandler is averaging 44.3 points and 493 yards of offense per game.  The Wolves have scored more than 50 points in five games and twice piled up more than 60.

Hamilton is averaging 44.7 points and 426 yards and has posted three 50+ games.

Something’s gotta give…this is going to be a great game to end the regular season.