The next step is something Hamilton knows all about.

The Huskies have walked into a big-venue stadium and walked away with the bigger trophy time and time again.

Desert Vista is about to find out if it is ready to do the same.

The Thunder have been to the semifinals three times since 2007, but have not been able to come home with golden ball trophy since its undefeated run through the state in 1998.

If Desert Vista (12-1) is going to win its second state title on Saturday at University of Phoenix Stadium against the Huskies (13-0) something has to change.

And yet nothing has to change.

"We just have to play DV football," senior running back Dominic Kereluk said. "They've been there before. We haven't. That's no secret. We can't let the big game (atmosphere) bother us. We just have to keep doing what we do."

It has been good enough in the postseason to win by a combined score of 136 to 46, including Friday's 42-32 win over No. 7 Basha.

Of course, Hamilton is a different level, something the Thunder saw first-hand in Week 7 when the Huskies came into Thunder territory and won handily, 35-10.

"I look forward to playing them again," Desert Vista senior Mike Arredondo said. "We knew we were going to have to play again to get what we want."

Desert Vista coach Dan Hinds has won a state title as a player at McClintock, won one as an assistant with the Thunder and lost as a head coach in 2007 with the Thunder.

Several of the assistants on his coaching staff have been there along the way.

But none of the players have, while all of the Hamilton players who have worn the black, maroon and silver their entire careers have only known ending the season by passing around the state championships trophy.

It's not a gap easy to close.

"There (will be) a lot of things we will talk about this week," Hinds said. "It's difficult to describe what it feels like to win a state championship. It is nothing you will ever forget. They will prepare hard this week and get ready to win one."

Desert Vista began the year with one of the biggest rosters in school history with 70 varsity players.

Each player has had a different journey to get to this point but it is clear they are in it together.

It doesn't matter if they sat out a year after transferring (Lorenzo Melvin), were groomed to be a punter (Eric Camarillo) by his professional father, had their senior season cut short by injury (Matt Smith and Austin McLennan) or they are a program mainstay (Arredondo).

Every single one of them pushed each other for this very opportunity.

"It couldn't have worked out better," said Melvin, who transferred from Maricopa and sat out his sophomore year. "I have never been apart of something this big and I can't wait to see what's next because we are going to give them our best shot."

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