Battle of Arizona Ave: The Chandler v. Hamilton rivalry continues

Photo Courtesy: Shannon Liebrock, Liebrock Photography

It’s the one of the most storied rivalries in Arizona high school football. The Battle of Arizona Avenue.

Chandler and Hamilton separated by only 3.8 miles straight up Arizona Ave.

The rivalry dates back to 1999 in Hamilton’s first season of football. Hamilton got the win 27-0.

The Huskies would then go on a 17-game win streak.

Watch it now: 40 Years of Arizona High School Football 

In 2013, Chandler broke the streak behind a big game from current Rams quarterback Bryce Perkins.

“Perkins drove us down with a minute and three seconds left with no timeouts and we beat them,” Chandler head coach Rick Garretson recalled of his favorite rivalry game memory. “Dante Sikes got a touchdown with six seconds left. Definitely remember that one.”

That year the teams would meet back up in the State Semifinals. Hamilton got the win 21-17.

The next year, Chandler dominated getting the win 56-24 in the regular season. They met again in the 2014 playoffs and Chandler again got the win, 28-7.

That was the start of Chandler’s nine-game win streak in the rivalry.

In 2019, Chandler pulled out the win, 42-38 after stopping Hamilton on an untimed down at the goal line.

Last year, the rivals met up twice. Chandler got the win in the regular season 34-14.

They met again in the Open Division Championship. Hamilton put up a fight but missed a field goal with 13 seconds left falling to the Wolves 23-21.

“Both teams have been very good, both teams have been ranked in the country,” Hamilton head coach Mike Zdebski said. “When you have that type of team accolades playing into this game, it’s a big thing.

“In order for it to be a rivalry though, you really don’t want to have streaks, it’s back and forth. It really hasn’t been back and forth for the last eight years. We’ve been close, but no one really cares about close because it’s a win or a loss.”

JUST ANOTHER GAME

There’s plenty of history in this matchup, but the approach to this week of preparation was the same.

Read more: No. 1 Chandler and No. 2 Hamilton clash with playoff positioning on the line

“It’s just another game,” Garretson said.

Last week, Chandler snuck away with a win over Highland, 10-7.

“(We learned) we’ve got a really good defense,” Garretson said. “Any time you hold somebody to 15 yards rushing in a Brock Farrell team, and 76 yards throwing. That’s a pretty good defensive effort.

“We played a schedule this year that if we don’t come to play, we can get beat every week. We had no layup games. It’s the end of the season against your rival and it’s business as usual.”

Chandler took on Colorado powerhouse Cherry Creek earlier this season. Cherry Creek came into the game with a 25-game win streak, but Chandler showed why they’re a national powerhouse and got the win, 17-7.

This isn’t Hamilton’s first nationally recognized game this season either.

The Huskies matched up with No. 7 ranked Bishop Gorman on national television and pulled out a win in the last minute.

It was a pivotal game for Hamilton in recognizing their talent this season.

“It gave the kids the self confidence that they are a good team,” Zdebski said. “I don’t know how many teams in high school football have scored 18 points in 57 seconds on national TV with the No. 7 team in the country. In that regard, it’s a very special moment.”

Zdebski and the Hamilton staff are looking at this game in the same way Garretson and Chandler are.

The Huskies haven’t had this game circled on the calendar; they’ve taken each game week-by-week.

“You don’t want to look down the road too far because that’s where you stumble,” Zdebski said. “The games I was worried about when we played Bishop Gorman, was the week before and the week after. Even with last week when we were playing Higley, you get nervous. Are (the players) looking a week ahead? They didn’t.”

Hamilton knows they’ve got their work cut out for them in Chandler’s defense this week.

Chandler knows that Hamilton senior quarterback Nicco Marchiol has been playing some of his best football this season and will be game planning for him.

Come Friday night, we’ll see if the scales tip in this rivalry or if Chandler extends its win streak.

How To Watch 

Watch it on YurView Arizona – Cox channel 4 in Phoenix and channel 7 in Tucson. Cox customers can also watch the games on their phones using the Cox Contour App. Download the Contour App on Apple and Android.

Live streams and replays of all games will be available to rent or purchase at watch.yurview.com.