Brett Hundley’s favorite play from the 2009 football season is a long touchdown run he had late in a regular-season meeting with Chandler Hamilton that got called back due to a penalty.
"It would have finished them off," he said.
But the plays that really get the Chandler quarterback’s juices flowing are less predictable.
"I like when I get to run the ball – and even the times when I get sacked," he said. "It’s fun being able to smash heads with somebody."
That depends on your perspective.
"I’m going to have a little talk with him about that," said Chandler coach Jim Ewan, when told of Hundley’s preferences. Ewan’s concern is understandable.
With Hundley behind center, Chandler (9-3) is a state championship contender. Since taking over for Kyle Yount in the second half of the Wolves’ second game this season, the 6-foot-4 junior has rushed for 1,151 yards and 12 touchdowns while throwing for 1,401 yards and 15 touchdowns with just two interceptions.
Since Hundley took over in that loss to Peoria Centennial, Chandler has gone toe-to-toe with the top teams in the state, including next week’s Class 5A Division I state semifinal opponent, Chandler Hamilton. Hamilton rallied from a 10-point deficit in the final two minutes to beat Chandler, 24-20, on Oct. 2. That doesn’t mean Huskies coach Steve Belles has forgotten the damage Hundley can inflict.
"The first word that comes to mind when you talk about Brett is containment," Belles said. "When you face that kind of dual-threat you’ve got to play disciplined defense to have a chance. And even if you are in position, he can either run over you or make you miss.
"To have his combination of physical tools and smarts upstairs is pretty scary."
To have it as a junior is even scarier.
"He’ll be the most-recruited athlete to come through here since I’ve been here," said Ewan, in his ninth season at Chandler. Hundley may end up being the most celebrated player to come through Chandler since former NFL safety Adam Archuleta. Not that he spends much time thinking about it.
"The NFL? Sure, that’s the dream. That’s every kid’s dream," he said. "But I still want to be a doctor and that’s what I’m working for."
Hundley’s talents were clear from the moment he arrived at Chandler as a freshman. In his sophomore year on JV, he led the team to a 9-0 record, including a win over Hamilton, and he was called up to varsity for the team’s remaining three games.
"We didn’t think he was ready as a sophomore to replace Kyle, but it was just a matter of time," Ewan said. "Even as a freshman, he was a head taller than the other kids and his skills were off the charts."
Waiting wasn’t easy for Hundley.
"I worked so hard in the summer to get that starting spot, but what are you going to do?" he said. "You’re behind an all-region quarterback who threw for 2,200 yards and everybody on the team loves the guy, including me. It was a tough situation. Kyle’s a great quarterback, so I knew I’d just have to wait and take my opportunities when I got them."
He made the most of his first chance. With Chandler taking a 34-6, halftime beating from Centennial, the state’s top-ranked team and MaxPreps' No. 6 team in the nation, Hundley took over and led Chandler to 32 second-half points, including a pair of TD passes.
"That Saturday after the game, coach Ewan called me into his office and said ‘You’ve got the job,’" Hundley said.
"I credit both of them for handling a tough situation so well," Ewan said. "Kyle is really well liked by all the seniors and those seniors are a close-knit group, but they’ve done a good job of taking Brett in and understanding his importance to this team. They know he’s the one stirring everything right now."
Hundley understood the delicate balance he had to strike between being a junior on a senior-dominated team, and needing to be a leader.
"I’m the quarterback, so I have to," he said.
Hundley’s humility is what Ewan credits with making that transition a smooth one. Hundley credits his dad for that personality trait.
"He’s never been a big talker," Hundley said of his dad. "He just goes out and gets things done with his work ethic and I want to be just like him."
Brett Hundley Sr. has always been the dominant force in his son’s life. A divorce when Brett Jr. was young could have laid waste to the family.
"We’ve been through everything together, some really hard times, but my dad’s always been there for me," Brett Jr. said. "That’s the point, right? I think those tough times made me a better person. I may not have been as humble if I hadn’t been through all that we’ve gone through together."
As a junior, Hundley doesn’t expend much thought on where he will attend college. But there still a sense of urgency to his play.
"I want to get a state championship for these seniors, absolutely. They’re a great group of guys," he said. "But more than that, I want it for my coaches. They’ve been here nine years and they’ve never even beaten Hamilton."
That may sound clichéd, but it’s indicative of a kid who lives in the moment and finds motivation at every turn.
"Motivation comes from my life and knowing the things you can achieve," he said. "I look at my dad, and all that’s achieved and I think I haven’t even come close to fully achieving what I can."
Craig Morgan is a freelance writer who has covered professional, college and high school sports in the Phoenix area for the past 17 years. He currently serves as the Phoenix correspondent for CBSSports.com, covering the Arizona Cardinals, Phoenix Suns and other pro and college teams in Arizona. He also writes a weekly column and other features for The Arizona Republic. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.