Shaun Aguano can’t escape the question.
During a recent visit to an urgent care, Aguano, wearing a Chandler (Ariz.) High polo shirt, was asked by the attending doctor what he did at the school.
After being told he was the football coach, the doctor asked, “When are you going to beat Hamilton?”
With all of the talent that has gone through Chandler High – it has had such alums as UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley and New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan and 2013 NFL draft picks Dion Jordan, Markus Wheaton and Marc Anthony – perhaps the most baffling statistic in Arizona high school football is Hamilton’s 17-0 record against the Wolves.
More stunning is the fact that Hamilton has beaten Chandler in the schools’ history by an average margin of three touchdowns.
The schools sit on Arizona Avenue, 3 ½ miles apart, but nobody anticipated Chandler would still be seeking its first win against Hamilton after the series began in 1998.
Every year, Chandler students, coaches and players believe this is the year.
This year, Chandler ramped up the competition, getting highly ranked national power (Bellflower, Calif.) St. John Bosco down 28-17 at halftime, before losing, and playing top-ranked Phoenix Mountain Pointe in the past three weeks.
“Is there pressure?” Aguano asked. “Yeah, I think there’s pressure. But I enjoy having that pressure.”
Aguano believes the streak is going to end in his lifetime.
He’d rather see it end Friday night when the Wolves (3-2) play host to Hamilton (4-1).
Both teams went through Mountain Pointe to get ready for this game.
Hamilton had its 16-game winning streak snapped last week in a 37-27 loss to Mountain Pointe.
“I wanted to make sure we played the toughest teams coming into this,” Aguano said. “Now we’re battle tested.”
Chandler’s best shot at taking down Hamilton came in 2009, when a Hundley-led Chandler team had a 20-10 lead in the final quarter. Hamilton rallied with two touchdowns and won 24-20.
Chandler senior defensive end Jordan Hoyt missed last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee.
He has been a key cog in Chandler’s strong start, along with dual-threat quarterback Bryce Perkins and sophomore running back Chase Lucas.
Hamilton was down to its seventh receiver two weeks ago with a rash of injuries that coach Steve Belles hasn’t experienced since he continued the Hamilton dynasty in 2006.
Although the record wouldn’t indicate it, Belles calls the rivalry better than the one he played in during the 1980s when he was the quarterback at Phoenix St. Mary’s, playing Phoenix Brophy Prep.
Mostly, during the private schools’ history, one program has been much more dominant than the other.
In Chandler, there isn’t much difference between talent at the schools on Arizona Avenue.
“When I played, Brophy was terrible, and now they don’t play each other,” Belles said. “There were only a few years when the teams were at the same level. For us, we’re mostly at the same level. “
Hoyt believes this will be the year.
“The thing that sets us apart is the unity on the team. We always had a lot of talent. But we never had big-time unity. We have players helping other players. The seniors are helping the younger guys. The unity is unlike anything I’ve seen since I’ve been here.”
Richard Obert writes for AZCentral.com, a Gannett property.