The Hamilton-Mountain Pointe series has become the premier matchup in Division I if not all of Arizona. It doesn’t have the history to be considered a great rivalry, but ever since the Pride won the season opener in 2012 against the Huskies it has morphed into the best thing going over the last few seasons. Meeting twice and splitting the games in the state title game tends to have that effect.
Throw in three emotional regular season games if you take it back to 2011 when Mountain Pointe almost ended Hamilton’s bid to set the Division I winning streak and this series is as good as it gets.
Here are some of the best moments in those games.
1. Travonn White’s rise to glory – White is known for leaping ability in track and field, but he went sky-high in the 2012 season opener to catch the ball at its peak against the Hamilton safety. White, who had four catches in the entire season, came down with it and found nothing but green in front of him. He raced 50 yards to tie the game at 14 with 2:57 left in the game. The Pride defense held and then Mountain Pointe went down the field to set up Ryan Sheehan for a game-winning 22-yard kick.
2. Wesley Payne’s throw – With the Pride offense sputtering in the early going against the Hamilton defense in the 2013 state title game, Pride senior running back Wesley Payne took a pitch to the right, stopped as the defense closed in and lofted a ball into the end zone where Jalen Brown came down with it to tie the game at 7.
3. Déjà vu all over again – Hamilton dominated the first half in the 2012 state title game by methodically driving for a score on its opening drive and then took advantage of a short field after a fumble on the Pride’s first offensive possession that saw the Huskies build a 10-0 lead. Hamilton ran 18 offensive plays compared to the Pride’s two in the first 13 minutes of the game. The Huskies started the game eerily similar to the 2011 title game when it was on the other end of a game that was over before it really started.
4. The Butler did it – Just before halftime in the 2013 championship game, Pride quarterback Antonio Hinojosa connected with Emmanuel Butler on a 34-yard strike for a 21-7 halftime lead in an eventual 42-19 win over the Huskies.
5. Sheehan’s boot leads to mayhem – The former Pride kicker made the clutch field goal in the 2012 opener that started Mountain Pointe’s season as the student body rushed the field and headed in the right direction as Mountain Pointe went 4-1 against top 10 teams to start the season.
6. Brown out – Brown’s second touchdown – a short out route on third down that he turned into a 37-yard touchdown after he broke a tackle – in the 2013 regular season opened the second half scoring in a 37-27 win and reestablished the Pride’s control of the game after neither team really did much early in the third quarter.
7. Sterling moment – The Pride needed to make a statement to open the second half of the 2012 title game to possibly grab some momentum, but Hamilton’s Levi Sterling intercepted Hinojosa and returned it 32 yards for the score, resulting in a 24-0 insurmountable lead.
8. Thigpen’s fumble – Leading 14-7 in the fourth quarter of the 2012 season opener, Hamilton quarterback A.J. Thigpen drove the Huskies into the red zone and Hamilton coach Steve Belles sent out the field goal unit on fourth-down-and-6 but an encroachment penalty by Mountain Pointe gave Hamilton a 4th and 1 that the Huskies converted. Three plays later, Thigpen fumbled inside the 10-yard line after getting hit by Payne on an option when a field goal might have sealed it. A few players later Hinojosa connected with White to set this whole thing in motion.