Desert Vista coach Dan Hinds wouldn’t change a thing other than maybe being a little healthier.
The Thunder has experienced two physical and emotional games in consecutive weeks.
Wins like the ones the Thunder have had over Chandler and Basha to end the regular season and start the postseason are character builders.
The players were challenged and pushed to their physical limits.
A chippy, aggressive game against Chandler gave the Thunder a different feel, showing some nastiness, while last-minute pressures against Basha turned into game-winning plays.
It couldn’t have worked out any better.
“Last week we played with emotion and we played with great emotion again this week,” Hinds said. “We’ll just keep riding the wave.”
Now, they have six days to heal up and attempt to run the table against the “Chandler Trio” as the Thunder (9-2) travel to Hamilton with the opportunity to beat their third straight team from the school district that many observers believe produces the best overall talent in the state.
Knocking off the first two in dramatic fashion only makes the Thunder more prepared for what it is ahead.
“It’s definitely a major factor,” said senior defensive back Austin Hicks. “It brings us closer together. It’s great for team morale.”
The game with Hamilton will be the fourth time the teams have faced off since the start of the 2011 season. A win by the Thunder evens the head-to-head battle, but a loss sends Hamilton to yet another Division I semifinal.
The third-seeded Huskies (9-2) are coming off a much different game after playing their second unit most of the second half in their 44-14 win over No. 14 Highland in Friday’s first round.
The Hamilton players come in refreshed along with the confidence of beating the Thunder 23-13 on Oct. 5.
Top-seeded Mountain Pointe (10-1) is taking a route similar to Hamilton, having played four straight blowouts — that’s what happens when your defense gives up six total points over the last 16 quarters — and its starters getting some time to watch from the sidelines.
The Pride’s second-round opponent, No. 9 Desert Mountain (9-2) lost in Week 8, and played a tight game against Mesa Mountain View before pulling away late in a 49-21 win.
Desert Mountain should prove to be Mountain Pointe’s toughest test in six weeks. It doesn’t mean the Pride won’t be ready, but the players might be a little rusty if the game is close in the fourth quarter.
As dominant as the Pride have been, it most likely won’t matter in the least, but it is hard to tell until it plays out.
So what is the better scenario?
The Thunder come in on a high having played two very taxing and draining wins. Hamilton strolls in after two cakewalks.
“I really believe we are going to get an emotional lift just like we did after the win over Basha last year and look what we did the next week,” Hinds said of the 45-19 win over Hamilton in the title game. “Right now we are (on our way up) and haven’t peaked yet. I think it is happening at the perfect time.”
Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or JSkoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.