The Desert Ridge Jaguars rattled the high school football world tonight, defeating the Hamilton Huskies by a final score of 36-20, marking the first time in Desert Ridge’s 14-year history that this has ever happened.
The last time these two teams met was in 2012, when Hamilton knocked Desert Ridge out of playoff contention for the third year in-a-row.
But rather than remaining intimidated and dwelling in the past, Coach Jeremy Hathcock’s team came into this matchup poised and ready to upset one of the most dominant programs in Arizona High School Football history.
The Jaguars wasted no time making their statement, as running back, Tyrese Allen blasted upfield for a 68-yard touchdown on the second play from scrimmage, making the score 8-0 Desert Ridge just one minute into the game.
This would be the start of a record-breaking night for Allen. The running back ended his night with 35 carries for 314 yards, while scoring three touchdowns, all career highs.
“I couldn’t have done it without my offensive line,” Allen said, deferring all of the credit to his teammates. “I love them boys. Can’t do it without them.”
The Desert Ridge offense, led by Tyrese Allen, continued to set an unmatchable pace in the first half, leaving the score at 22-0 when both teams headed to the locker room at halftime.
Hamilton’s offense on the other hand, didn’t see the light of day in the first half. The Huskies only managed 34 total yards of total offense across five possessions.
When the third quarter began however, so did Hamilton’s relentless climb back to relevance.
Coach Steve Belles’ team responded well coming out of the locker room, keeping Desert Ridge off the board in the third quarter.
It wasn’t until late in the third quarter when Hamilton finally broke the ice, scoring their first points of the night.
With Desert Ridge backed up to their own 12-yard line, Hamilton safety, Satchel Escalante jumped on a route in the middle of the field, intercepting Desert Ridge quarterback, CJ Fowler, and prancing into the end zone for Hamilton’s first touchdown of the night.
In the fourth quarter, Desert Ridge opened up the door for Hamilton, as two fumbles ultimately led to two touchdowns for the Huskies, who suddenly trailed Desert Ridge by a mere deficit of 29-20.
With the clock winding down however, Desert Ridge’s Tyrese Allen put the game on ice with his third touchdown of the game, cementing the score at 36-20 for the rest of the night.
While Allen did a lot of the heavy lifting, Coach Hathcock emphasized the win as a team effort. “CJ Fowler made some big throws in some big time situations,” Hathcock said. “That helped keep the box empty.”
Even with the victory over their long-time Division I rival, it wasn’t all fun and games for Desert Ridge tonight. Jalen Harris, one of the most prolific two-way players in the state, was sidelined in the second quarter with a knee injury.
“I’ll be ready to go next week,” Harris said following the game, after announcing that his knee felt “fine.”
Even with the big victory, much of the team’s focus quickly turned to next week’s game, against Mesa.
“It was a great team win,” Jalen Harris said. “But we’ve still got a long way to go.”
Jalen’s younger brother, freshman, Jason Harris also commented on the magnitude of this victory. “It’s a great team win,” Jason said. “It really boosts our confidence.”
“Next week we’re going to bring it just as hard as we did this week,” Tyrese Allen said.
Not only does the victory mark Desert Ridge’s first win over Hamilton in team history, it also marks Head Coach Jeremy Hathcock and Defensive Coordinator Travis Jackson’s 100th win together.
The win also perhaps marks in new era in Arizona High School Football.
For the past 15 years, the state has been dominated by the two Chandler Unified School District juggernauts, Hamilton and Chandler. The two schools have combined for eight Division I State Championships over that span.
On Friday, the Chandler Wolves were handily defeated by the Mountain Pointe Pride by a final score of 52-7.
With losses from both Chandler and Hamilton, this weekend marks the first regular season week since 2001 where both Chandler and Hamilton have lost in the same week.
Although Desert Ridge has yet to win a State Championship, they’ve been knocking on the door for a long time.
The Jaguars have reached the playoffs in 10 consecutive seasons, including losing in the Division I State Championship Game last year.
If tonight’s game, taking down the 7-time State Champion Hamilton Huskies is any sign of what’s to come for Desert Ridge, it may not be long before we see a new State Champion.
The Pulse and AZPreps365’s “Game of the Week,” coverage will continue next Saturday night, September 16th, with 88.7’s coverage of “Kellis @ Arcadia” and 90.7’s coverage of “Desert Edge @ Mesquite.”