Brittany Bowyer: No. 2 Hamilton shuts out No. 7 Corona del Sol in Open Division Quarterfinals

(Brittany Bowyer Photo)

Special to AllSportsTucson from Brittany Bowyer

Brittany Bowyer is a freelance journalist who started her career as an intern for a small sports website back in 2015. Since then, she’s obtained her master’s degree in Sports Journalism from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at ASU and is in her fourth year of covering various levels of sports across a broad range of platforms in Arizona. You can follow her on twitter @bbowyer07

OPEN DIVISION: No. 6 Salpointe at No. 2 Hamilton, 7 p.m.

The No. 2 ranked Hamilton Huskies put on a performance showcasing once again why they’re consistently among the best in the state with a 50-0 shutout win over no. 7 Corona del Sol in the first round of the Open Division quarterfinals on Friday. While all eyes were on the explosive offense, Hamilton’s defense was locked in. 

“They say defense wins championships, and obviously that’s what we’re going for,” senior running back Noah Schmidt.

Troubles started early on for the Aztecs, as Hamilton’s defense was able to snag an interception on senior quarterback Quade Swearingen’s first pass attempt. Hamilton’s offense was able to capitalize on the turnover and scored its first of seven rushing touchdowns on the night, this one coming on a 39-yard run from senior running back Rodney Clemente. The kick by sophomore Jacob Medina was good, putting Hamilton on top 7-0 with 7:38 left in the first. 

Corona’s defense held strong for the rest of the first quarter, giving up its second touchdown to the Huskies with 11:39 left in the second. This time, it was senior running back Schmidtcarrying it 19-yards in for the touchdown. The kick by Medina was good, extending the Huskies lead to 14-0. 

Hamilton’s only other points scored in the second quarter came on a field goal, giving the Huskies a 17-0 lead going into the half, but also providing some hope for Corona del Sol as the game was still within reach. 

The Huskies got the ball back to start the second half and wasted no time striking again. Clemente picked up his second touchdown of the night on a 10-yard dash to the end zone. The kick by sophomore kicker Matthew Swink was good, putting the Huskies on top 24-0 with 9:53 remaining in the 3rd. 

After only running a few minutes off the clock, the Aztecs were forced to punt the ball back to the Huskies. With 6:21 remaining, Schmidt picked up his second touchdown of the night by punching it in from six-yards out. The kick was good, making it 31-0.

Hamilton’s defense forced a quick three and out for Corona del Sol, setting up Clemente for a 48-yard touchdown run on the second snap of the drive, and his third of the night. The kick by Swink was good, putting the Huskies on top 38-0 with just over four minutes remaining in the third. 

Schmidt’s third touchdown came on the following drive. With just over a minute left in the quarter, he forced his way in from one yard out, putting the Huskies on top 44-0 and resulting in a running clock for the remainder of the game. 

Hamilton’s final touchdown of the game came on a 49-yard touchdown run by Schmidt with just over nine minutes remaining in the game. It was his fourth on the night. 

Together, Clemente and Schmidt racked up more than 300 of the team’s 357 total rushing yards. They said they had a good feeling going into tonight’s game, and they were able to bring it to life. 

“I think that’s from playing in the Premiere region,” Coach Zdebski said, referring to why his running backs are so physical and strong. “I think the AIA needs to balance out the regions, otherwise you’re going to have this happen in the open.”

Despite playing without starting quarterback Nicco Marchiol, Hamilton looked strong behind sophomore quarterback Roch Cholowsky, who completed 11 of 14 passes for 137 yards. Coach Mike Zdebski said the team played to their strengths tonight offensively and didn’t feel the need to put more pressure on Cholowsky than absolutely necessary. 

“Roch stepped in and did a great job and I know all of us players have full confidence in him,” Schmidt said. 

Meanwhile, Hamilton’s defense held Corona del Sol to just 64 total offensive yards in the entire game. In the second half, the Aztecs had negative three rushing yards for 34 rushing yards total in the game. In the air, Swearingen was able to complete six of 16 pass attempts for 30 yards on the night. 

“Without defense, we wouldn’t have any offense. They set up every run, every pass, every throw. All of our possessions were set up by them, and they did a great job keeping the other team out of the end zone,” Clemente said. 

Next week, Hamilton will face the no. 6 Salpointe Catholic Lancers at home. Salpointe Catholic will enter the game off a bye week, as they automatically advanced this week following the cancellation of the game due to a COVID outbreak in the Saguaro program. 

“We’ll just watch film on them, see what their strengths are and what their weaknesses are,” Coach Zdebski said. “Traditionally, they’re very very good, and they’re gonna be fresh from the week off.”

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