State championship week is new to Mountain Pointe, but not to everyone in the program.
Head coach Norris Vaughan took Wickenburg to the title game in 2006, while defensive coordinator Jeff Decker had the same role in 1998 for Desert Vista and was a consultant of sorts for North Canyon when it won in 2005.
“You just have to keep everything as normal as possible,” Decker said. “Anything else and it can be too much.”
Hamilton has been to five straight state title games and 10 times over the last 12 years with six wins since 2001.
So in that regard the Huskies have a clear advantage, but had the same experience benefit in last year’s game against Desert Vista and the Thunder went on to a 45-19 win.
“Yeah, that really helped us last year,” Hamilton coach Steve Belles said. “These kids are ready to compete. There might a wow factor early but they usually settle in and play.”
Pride junior Jalen Brown said he has competed in big stake AAU games and national combines for football to be prepared for playing on a big stage.
“It might get to some people, but a lot of us have played in big games,” Brown said. “You get used to it and you just play hard.”
Brown said the team’s walk through practice at University of Phoenix Stadium on Wednesday evening will help and he will do his best to make sure teammates are comfortable as well.
“You just tell them it is football, go and have fun,” Brown said. “It’s the state championship game so we are going to be excited and ready to play, but that doesn’t mean we are going to let it bother us in anyway.”
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