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Top sports moments: Braves beaten by Honkers in D-III football title tilt
Hamilton High's bid to win the Northern Section Division III football championship fell one point short against Willows High on Nov. 21, ending the Braves' quest to win a title in their first season competing in Division III.
The Honkers survived an injury to Trevor Candelaria and overcame a fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Braves 21-20.
Hamilton coach Ryan Bentz said his team's commitment to improving during the offseason and senior leadership during the season helped the Braves make the move from D-IV to D-III this season.
"They battled. Somebody had to lose, and a couple of breaks didn't go our way. They're a great bunch of guys, I wouldn't trade any of them," Bentz said.
After Candelaria re-aggravated a knee injury in the fourth quarter with the game tied 14-14, four plays later Braves running back Austin Burbank shot through the line for a 48-yard touchdown run, but the Honkers caught a break on the extra point when heavy pressure caused the kick to sail wide left.
With Candelaria out on the offensive line, the Honkers marched 63 yards in 10 plays and junior running back Geoffrey Bateman ran in an 11-yard touchdown with 3:18 left in the game.
Willows was called for unsportsmanlike conduct on the touchdown and Hamilton chose to have the penalty enforced on the extra-point attempt instead of the kickoff, forcing Daniel Macias to make the kick from 36 yards out.
The Braves' success this season included winning the Mid-Valley League championship with a 5-0 mark, and Bentz and several players being recognized by the league with postseason awards.
Brad Hall was named the league's Most Valuable Player, and Bentz was tabbed as Coach of the Year.
Sergio Romero, Shea Shull, Fabian Frutos, Andrew Shippelhoutte, Diego Martinez and Leland Prior were all named to the All-League team.