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September 28, 2012There are several big rivalries in Arizona but none has garnered the attention nor had the star power that the Chandler Hamilton versus Chandler High game has over the last decade.
The Battle for Arizona Avenue (so named because of the street that both schools share with a distance of just four miles between them) arguably first became a heated rivalry when Terrell Suggs left Chandler High to go play for Hamilton.
Since that time the rivalry has been a one-sided affair, as Chandler enters this year's game winless against Hamilton in 16 attempts but in the last few years there have been several close games that could have gone either way.
Last year, Chandler led 21-13 in the fourth quarter when cornerback Cole Luke returned a fumble for a score and defensive lineman Jaxon Hood forced two fumbles to help give Hamilton a 28-21 win.
The winning streak is something that neither side likes to talk about very much.
"(The winning streak) is something that is never really talked about honestly," Cole Luke said. "We try to focus on everything besides that. Everyone knows this game is a big rivalry and there is no way that it can't be for us as players. We are have to come out and play though, it doesn't matter if it's Corona del Sol, Notre Dame Prep or Chandler, we have to come out and play."
Chandler quarterback Darell Garretson has a similar outlook on the game.
"The game has enough hype for itself," Garretson said. "There's no need for any extra motivation, it's Chandler versus Hamilton, that kind of speaks for itself. For us to beat Hamilton would be great. To be the first team in history to beat them would just be great not only for the team but the school and supporters of Chandler High Football."
For the first time in several years the game doesn't feature and unbeaten team nor a top ranked team in the state.
Both schools have already narrowly lost to Phoenix Mountain Pointe. Chandler enters the game 4-1 after losing to Mountain Pointe in overtime last week.
"I think the season is going great," Garretson said about his Wolves' season so far. "I believe that we have somewhat shocked people with our play and the physicality we bring. I couldn't ask for anything better than the way our team has played in my senior year."
After an 0-2 start Hamilton needed to regroup and it looked to its veteran players for leadership.
Luke was one player that stepped up. He is playing on both sides of the ball, which is something of a rarity at Hamilton.
"Playing both ways is going pretty well," Luke said. "It's something we talked about in the offseason but we didn't decide to do it until a couple of games into this year. We need all our players to step up not just the seniors."
Hamilton enters the game at 3-2 and starting to look more like the perennial juggernaut that people are used to seeing in Arizona.
"We have had to deal with some adversity but we have played well the last few games and that is the way we are expected to be," Luke said.
Garretson is one of most underrated passers in the region. He already made his college decision though.
"I'm very committed to San Jose State." Garretson said. "Coach (Mike) MacIntyre is really turning that program around and got a big win over San Diego State last weekend."
Luke is one of the top uncommitted cornerbacks in the country. He has three schools on top but hometown Arizona State has made a big push and is right in the mix.
"ASU has been talking to me a lot," Luke said. "They have not given up on me and I have not given up on them either.
"I have been talking a lot to coach (Chip) Long a lot and a little bit with coach (Chris) Ball. Right now my top three is Notre Dame, Texas and Oklahoma. I would say that ASU is in the mix. I probably will make an official visit to ASU and I play on making a decision after I make all my visits."
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