Hamilton visits Highland in Chandler-area featured game - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Hamilton visits Highland in Chandler-area featured game

August 18th, 2018 development
Hamilton visits Highland in Chandler-area featured game
Sports and Recreation

By Zach Alvira, Sports Editor

Zero Week officially is in the books for Chandler-area prep football teams. Next Friday, Aug. 24, the rest of the high schools open their 2018 seasons.

The highlight matchup in the region pits Hamilton at Highland, teams that haven’t met in three years and have hired new coaches since then.

Hamilton, which opened against Chaparral, has traveled a rocky road off the field for more than a year but has maintained its position among the premier programs in the state. It’s depth of talent now is under the leadership of coach Mike Zdebski.

Highland, meanwhile, which opened against Alhambra, has been on an upward trend since coach Brock Farrel took over last season, when the Hawks went 8-4 and reached the 6A quarterfinals.

It’s a matchup of teams that could meet again in the playoffs.

Zdebski isn’t even thinking about that. He has the Huskies taking it one day at a time with their focus.

“They’re kids so you have to worry about that, but our kids do a good job of worrying about what we have to take care of,” Zdebski said. “As long as you focus on the task at hand, then you’ll be OK. It’s still business.”

Hamilton’s talent starts up front with Dylan Mayginnes and Trevor Harvey. The duo anchors an offensive line that protects quarterback Brandon Schenks, who has made the switch from receiver.

“It’s been an easy transition. I’ve played quarterback before,” Schenks said. “The guys I have around me make it really easy.”

Schenks has a strong group of receivers, led by junior Brenden Rice. As a sophomore, Rice caught 25 passes for 559 yards and seven touchdowns.

Schenks is confident in his ability to lead the team through a tough schedule.

The Hawks offense features returning starters Kaleb Herbert, a 1,000-yard passer in 2017, and do-it-all player Kohnor Cullimore, lead running back and leader of Highland’s secondary.

Farrel is confident in his team’s ability to navigate a difficult schedule, relying on a simple mantra the Hawks have adopted since his arrival.

“We talk about that we are going to compete against Highland. It’s the standard for Highland football,” Farrel said. “Here is how we are going to compete. Here is how we are going to practice. It doesn’t matter what color or what emblem is on the helmet of the opponent. We are going to play at this level.

“If we aren’t playing at this level, then we need to compete against ourselves better.”

Chandler at Queen Creek

It’s a matchup of great quarterbacks, Chandler’s Jacob Conover and Queen Creek’s Devin Larson. Both have started since their sophomore seasons, leading their teams to success.

Chandler is poised to make another state title run.

Perry at Mountain View

Quarterback Chubba Purdy has taken over the offense that his brother, Brock, led to the 6A title game last season. Pumas wideout Colby Dicky is a key target for Purdy.

Mountain View, once the dominant big-school program in Arizona, is on an upward trend since Mike Fell took over the program two seasons ago. Quarterback Brandon Nunez and receiver JaCobby Dinwiddie are among the best duos in the state.

Basha at O’Connor

First-year coach Chris McDonald has a vision to re-establish the winning culture at Basha and has an opportunity to shut down an up-and-coming team in Sandra Day O’Connor. Ty Siffermann leads the Bears’ offense.

The Eagles defense features end Bralen Trice, who is among the best pass rushers in the state.

Casteel at Apollo

The Bobby Newcombe coaching era at Casteel opened against Centennial, one of Arizona’s strongest programs for years, and Casteel faces another tough test in Apollo.

The Colts, the defending 3A champions, are poised to continue their success despite jumping to 5A, with quarterback Gunner Cruz and receiver Khyheem Waleed. Apollo established itself as a sleeper in 5A last season, finishing 8-3 and pushing Ironwood Ridge to the brink in the playoffs.