An upward inflection rang through Bernie Busken's voice, loud and clear; a tone that screamed "surprise."
The Basha coach who led Mountain View through a section of its glory years in the late 1990s seemed unaware that history could be made to begin the 2011 football season.
Busken's Bears have their own priorities in hosting Corona del Sol. But a few miles west, three-time defending state champion Hamilton hosts Mountain Pointe, and if the Huskies win, it'll be the 41st consecutive victory for Hamilton - a new big-school Arizona record that would drop Mountain View's run of 40 straight from 1996-1998 down as merely a footnote in the record books.
Of course, a mere blurb somewhere is not how Busken and those Toro teams would be remembered by most, but there was a sense that record would last a lot longer.
"It's not an easy thing to do," Busken said. "It's really, really hard to do. To have any kind of record anymore is really good.
"I hadn't thought about it much. Some day when I retire I'll brag about it a lot, but you get to the next game and it's about that and getting ready for the next team. But it's pretty amazing."
The possibility of making more history was briefly but openly floated around Hamilton this summer. It was discussed in over-arching terms by the Huskies. Those talks were about a legacy left behind and the players who started this three-peat championship ride, which began following a loss against Peoria Centennial in September 2008.
It was also noted that Hamilton hasn't lost at home since Highland beat them in 2004.
"I think it's pretty cool," Huskies senior cornerback Robert Milus said. "We're playing for this group but also teams before us that started this."
Hamilton coach Steve Belles played for Pat Farrell at St. Mary's in the mid-1980s, when the Knights were in the midst of a 27-game winning streak. But when Mountain View was the state's big-school title town, Belles was in his early 30s and a .500 coach at Desert Mountain.
"If you said to me that in 15 years you'd have some 40-game win streak you'd be barking up the wrong tree," he said.
As it did to a degree for the Toros, luck has played its part. Mountain View trailed 24-7 with six minutes left in the 1997 championship game against Tucson Amphitheater, but a 70-yard, 30-second scoring drive and a couple Amphi mistakes opened the door for a miraculous comeback.
"Everything you talk about life, football, everything in the world took place in that game," Busken said.
Two years ago, Chandler had a 14-point lead and the ball with two minutes left, but a couple Wolves miscues in clock management and special teams opened the door for Hamilton's streak to live on.
At the prospect of having one record replace another, Busken noted the different dynamics of Arizona high school football back then - especially in the Valley's size, as well as transfers and open enrollment issues prevalent today - and that all neighborhood kids with family bloodlines through the school made up those Mountain View teams.
"I don't really care," he said of the record. "I'm proud of my guys. We did something that hadn't been done before in a tight-knit community. It's just really special."
Then he paused.
"If it happens, then one of these days I'd like to break it."
Similarly, for a Hamilton program which has championships as its annual goal, the mood among this year's key players was one of tunnel vision. This week both Milus and running back Kendyl Taylor used "cool" to describe the prospect of making history.
But their vocal tones were subdued, and preferred to talk about how win No. 41 (if it happens) would be about learning about themselves. In part because they know Mountain Pointe is 22-4 the past two seasons with lots of talent returning. In part because the here-and-now approach (along with a lot of talent, resources and some luck) has worked for the previous 40 games.
"One day it'll end," Belles said. "When? I don't know. But I'll tell you this: They're going to have to earn it. We're not going to give it away. If it happens it won't be to the Sisters of the Poor. (Mountain Pointe) expects to win and they believe they can win. So do we."
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