Cole Luke has one more score to settle. After losing in last year’s championship game to Phoenix Desert Vista, then starting this season with a loss to Phoenix Mountain Pointe, the senior cornerback has a chance to finish his high school football career on top.
But, for Chandler Hamilton (11-2) to avenge the 17-14 August loss to Mountain Pointe (12-1), Luke will have to win one of Saturday’s key Division I championship matchups.
He will be asked to try to contain dazzling junior receiver Jalen Brown.
Brown has been held out of the end zone in only four games this season. One of those was against Hamilton, against whom he had five catches for 53 yards. He has been one of the state’s more dynamic players since then with 65 catches for 1,221 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Like Luke, who recently committed to play his college football at Notre Dame, Brown is being heavily recruited.
“There are a lot of key matchups,” Luke said. “Our D-linemen, our offensive linemen, linebackers and running backs. We all have to do our job. It’s a big team effort.”
Luke isn’t saying whether Hamilton plans to double-team Brown, who has seen quite a few double teams this year.
It doesn’t matter to Brown, because Mountain Pointe has so many other athletes, such as running back Garette Craig, who can strike for big plays and lines up at times at receiver. Craig caught seven passes for 63 yards and ran for 101 yards in 16 carries in the win against Hamilton.
“It fuels the fire,” Luke said about the Mountain Pointe loss and last year’s championship defeat. “It’s in the past. You can’t let that sit on you while you’re playing this game.”
After Hamilton started 0-2 and with the offense was struggling, Luke began to play some receiver. That seemed to ignite an offense that had been stagnant, relying mainly on senior quarterback A.J. Thigpen to make big plays with his arm and feet.
Luke also is a weapon returning punts.
“Wherever they need me on the field, if that’s going to help our team win the game, I’ll do it,” Luke said.
Hamilton coach Steve Belles, who played on Notre Dame’s last national championship team in the late 1980s, said the Fighting Irish will be getting a “quality kid, on and off the field.”
“The best way to sum it up, if my daughter wanted to go out with him, I’d have no problem with it,” Belles said. “He’s been a pleasure to coach. He’s very humble. On the field, he’s tenacious. He doesn’t take himself too seriously. He’s not a cocky kid. You’ve got to respect that about him.”
Brown is looking forward to the matchup with Luke. He realizes he will need to be more involved with Hamilton’s strong defensive front trying to slow down Craig and running back Thomas Warren.
“I’ll do whatever I can to help us,” Brown said. “It takes a load off, not relying on one person. Another person is always there to pick the other up.”