Hamilton, Brophy back to old form

Hamilton, Brophy back to old form

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Hamilton, Brophy back to old form

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Chandler Hamilton’s turning point came in Ireland. Phoenix Brophy Prep’s came after the first Mesa Red Mountain game in early September.

Hamilton (10-2) was 0-2, and minus-7 in turnovers. Quarterback AJ Thigpen was struggling.

Thigpen improved, the running game behind a big, experienced line got untracked, All-Arizona cornerback Cole Luke made contributions on offense as an extra receiver, and the defense kept getting stronger.

Hamilton is a step away from reaching the state final for a fifth consecutive year and a seventh time in eight years with a semifinal showdown against Mesa Desert Ridge Friday.

“I think the one thing Ireland did for us, the kids rallied around each other after that (Sherman Oaks Notre Dame) loss,” coach Steve Belles said. “It’s not like anyone was feeling sorry for us.

“Everyone had their wolf teeth out and feeling this is our year to get a bite of them. I don’t blame them. … We were down but not out.”

Brophy (11-2), which plays Phoenix Mountain Pointe in a Division I semifinal, was 2-2 and reeling after losing to Red Mountain on Sept. 7. Coach Scooter Molander said everybody took a step back and decided there was too much pressure being built up, especially on the seniors who were expected to lead the team to a state title in preseason.

“We’re not professional athletes, I’m not a professional coach,” Molander said. “We needed to just enjoy this whole process and let it fly.

“We just changed our focus, our approach. We made sure we were enjoying ourselves as coaches. If we’re not enjoying ourselves, how can the kids enjoy themselves?”

Lunch pail

Morenci coach Frank Ogas doesn’t have to go far to find his most valuable player. His son, Frank Jr., is a 6-foot-3, 220-pound senior fullback/linebacker/defensive lineman on the 12-0 team that is playing Tempe Prep in a Division V semifinal Saturday.

Ogas moved from quarterback to fullback and from outside linebacker to defensive line this year. He is the lead blocker and among seven running backs who each have gained at least 300 yards.

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