There's a new king atop the mountain of consistent Arizona football teams. All hail Chandler (Ariz.) Hamilton High, a perennial RivalsHigh 100 member and, as of Friday night, the victor of 41 consecutive football victories.
Hamilton's 17-7 victory against Mountain Pointe (Ariz.) High maked the start of a fourth consecutive undefeated season for the team which is currently ranked No. 30 in the nation. According to the East Valley Tribune, that mark broke the existing record of 40 straight wins cobbled together by Mountain View (Ariz.) High between 1996-98.
All in a night's work for a program that traditionally fills area and state all-star teams with a robust selection of its best players.
"We talked about more of standing on the shoulder of giants, the guys who came before you and what it means to put on the jersey," Hamilton coach Steve Belles told the Tribune. "These guys, really, have been part of one [win in the streak]."
If Belles' personal record is any indication, it's likely his current crop of players will be a part of plenty more victories, too. Friday's victory improved Belles' career record to 68-3, and Hamilton's tough defense could ensure that his career losses stay in the very marginal category going forward.
While Hamilton's offense may not have fired on all cylinders in the team's first game, wide receiver Kendyl Taylor's 13 catches for 143 yards helped pace the Huskies past a tough early season opponent. It may be early to declare Hamilton a state title favorite again, but defensive back Bobby Milius said he and his teammates fully expect similar success to follow.
"[The state record] means a lot to me," Milus, who has been a part of more Hamilton victories than any other current team member, told the Tribune. "We can keep it going and win state. That's what we expect to do here.
"This team has a chance to be as good as the other ones, but we have some work to do to get to that point. This was a good start."