Hamilton ready for new era under coach Zdebski - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Hamilton ready for new era under coach Zdebski

August 6th, 2018 SanTan Sun News
Hamilton ready for new era under coach Zdebski
Sports and Recreation

By Zach Alvira, Sports Editor


The Hamilton High football program was turned upside down last season amid allegations of a hazing scandal that caused one former player to be charged criminally as an adult and the head coach to be reassigned.

Assistant principal and former director of football operations Richard Baniszewski took over as interim head coach after Steve Belles was moved. Despite the turmoil, the Huskies finished 8-4 against a tough schedule, falling to Perry in the 6A quarterfinals.

This season, Hamilton is among three Chandler football teams under the direction of a new coach, along with Basha and Casteel.

The other two Chandler district schools, Chandler High and Perry, met in the 6A state championship game and their leadership is unchanged. Chandler is the defending champ and winner of three of the past four state titles. It once again appears to be the strongest team in Arizona and among the best in the country.

Baniszewski was on the committee that hired coach Mike Zdebski to lead Hamilton.

“The biggest thing we were looking for was someone who had a plan and a strong belief in building the culture of a program,” Baniszewski said. “I thought Coach Zdebski reflected that as well as anyone we talked to. He was the right fit for us.”

Zdebski came from Walled Lake Western High in Michigan, where he won 160 games and a state title.

He said his move to the Valley was based on what Hamilton had to offer: “The history of the school, the great tradition and the support from the superintendent all the way to the community,” Zdebski said.

“And, of course, it has a great in-town rival,” Zdebski added.

He takes over what once was the state’s premier program. It has been overshadowed by rival Chandler in recent years in the state’s toughest division.

Zdebski and the Huskies face a tough debut, hosting Chaparral.

Despite losing key players to graduation, including quarterback Tyler Shough and running back Jawhar Jordan, Zdebski is prepared to bring Hamilton back to the top.

It starts with the Huskies’ offensive line.

“Our key players are going to be on the front lines, Fin Lecky, Dylan Mayginnes, Noah Miller, Trevor Harvey, Derek Porter,” Zdebski said. “The type of year those guys have, that’s what is going to be critical to this team.”

Casteel in 5A with first senior class

The Casteel Colts captured the 3A state championship last year with a team consisting of juniors and sophomores.

But a late-summer departure by coach Spencer Stowers, who built the program, meant the Colts had to scramble for a new leader. They found one in former University of Nebraska quarterback Bobby Newcombe, whose vision is simple.

“My biggest focus is being fundamentally sound, to make sure we coach our athletes the best way we can, to help them become better,” Newcombe said. “My goal for our team is to build a program of champions that develops the student athlete.

“We want to make sure we master that.”

Quarterback Gunner Cruz and receiver Khyheem Waleed will lead the high-powered Casteel offense through a difficult 5A schedule that begins on Aug. 17 against West Valley powerhouse Centennial.

Basha turns to McDonald to reverse fortunes

The Basha Bears were tasked with finding a new head coach for the second time in two years after Rich Wellbrock departed for Mountain Pointe.

With coach Chris McDonald now at the helm, the Bears will attempt to post their first winning season and playoff appearance since 2013.

“Basha is one of those schools that has everything going for it,” McDonald said. “They were just in need of someone to kind of take more of a leadership role as far as the football program goes and bring it back.”

Senior Ty Siffermann, a returning starter at wide receiver, has 1,554 career receiving yards. Senior Jonathan Doran returns to anchor the offensive line.

The Bears open against North on Aug. 17.

Perry moves on after state title game loss to Chandler

Preston Jones has led the Perry Pumas to a 69-45 overall record in his 10 seasons.

After falling to district foe Chandler in the 2017 state championship game, Jones and the Pumas are preparing for one of their toughest schedules.

The Pumas, led by seniors D’Shayne James, Colby Dicky, Travis Beckman and Travis Calloway, open against Oklahoma-bound quarterback Spencer Rattler and the Pinnacle Pioneers.

With Chubba Purdy – brother of 2017 quarterback Brock Purdy, now at Iowa State – now at quarterback, the Pumas are poised to once again be a force in the state’s top division.

Nationally ranked Chandler loaded again

There is not much more to say about two-time defending state champion Chandler, which comes into the season No. 10 in the nation in the MaxPreps rankings.

Coach Sean Aguano enters his eighth season leading the Wolves, who appear poised to capture yet another state title with their wealth of the returning and incoming talent.

Quarterback Jacob Conover and tight end Brayden Liebrock lead the offense, while senior linebacker Zach Bowers continues to anchor the defense.

The Wolves will be tested right out of the gate, as they travel to Corona, California, to take on 17th-ranked Centennial.

Photos by Kimberly Carrillo/Staff Photographer

Coach Mike Zdebski hopes to restore Hamilton football to the glory it once knew before it was tarnished by a hazing scandal.