Hunter didn't anticipate playing without Matt Asiata Friday night, but once the star running back went down with an injury, an eerily familiar rout was on.
Nine weeks after getting crushed by Bingham while a suspended Asiata walked the sideline, Hunter endured a similar thrashing, this time at the hands of region rival Skyline, 41-0.
"We wanted to be region champs," Skyline coach Roger DuPaix said. "We haven't been region champs in a couple of years, and we wanted it, both the players and coaches."
It didn't figure to be an easy task, however.
All week Asiata was gearing up for a monster game, which he hoped to punctuate with more than 30 carries, and his traditional 200 rushing yards.
The Wolverines, who beat Skyline twice last year en route to the 5A state championship, took the game's opening drive and methodically marched 36 yards on nine plays. The seven-minute drive, however, stalled after Asiata was held to no gain on a third and eight.
That one play changed the complexion of the game. On the tackle Asiata strained the arch in his right foot, the same injury that forced him to miss a game last year. Throughout the remainder of the first half, Asiata tried shaking off the injury on the sideline. He loosened it up enough to carry the ball three more times for 16 yards, but that was all he and coaching staff wanted to push it.
"They really lost a couple of their better players, and that hurt them," DuPaix said.
The Wolverines might have been able to overcome one injury, but when fellow running back Chris Laloni along with starting quarterback T.J. Pea both went down shortly after Asiata, the loss was basically a foregone conclusion — especially when Hunter was giving away first downs.
Skyline's opening drive of the game stalled on the 26-yard line, and DuPaix was content to march Ben Vroman on the field for a 43-yard field-goal attempt on fourth-and-three. Amazingly, Hunter jumped offside, and two plays later Toa Taeoalii danced into the end zone on a 17-yard scamper.
Hunter's defense managed to keep things close for a while, but four minutes before halftime Joey Putnam connected with Parker Hackett on a 42-yard touchdown strike down the middle of the field.
Trailing 14-0 at the half, Hunter's medical personnel wrapped Asiata's foot in hopes of a second-half return, but to no avail.