Different year but same result for the Saguaro Sabercats.
For the third consecutive season, Saguaro is crowned the state champions. This time at the division II level and with a 38-20 win over the Marcos de Niza Padres.
The Padres came out ready to play as they forced the Saguaro offense to got four-and-out and then three-and-out on their first two possessions of the game. In the process, they got on the board first as junior quarterback Naz Greer connected with junior Marcus Naisant to take an early 7-0 lead.
Saguaro did what great teams do. They settled down, they adjusted and they exectuted. Head Coach Jason Mohns said after the game that “I thought the first half playing not to lose. But in the second half, I thought we played to win.”
They received a legendary effort from their junior running back Stone Matthews who, with the help of his great offensive line, rushed for an incredible 291 yards and two touchdowns. The run opened things up for the pass as senior quarterback Karé Lyles was throwing dimes all over the field. He 28 for 28 for 256 yards and four touchdowns. Byron Murphy lead the way for Saguaro receiving with eight catches for 121 yards and two scores. He added an interception as well against his former team.
Saguaro’s defense really buckled down and played a great game holding the high powered passing attack that is Greer and Marcos de Niza to just eight completions for 87 yards.
The Padres have a ton to be proud of from this night and this season. Since losing to Ironwood Ridge at home on week eight, this team had been on a mission to close out the year and through the playoffs to this point. On Saturday, they received fantastic efforts offensively from senior running back Avery Sanders who ran for 139 yards on just 12 carries and also from senior Shaun Richards who added 83 yards on the ground including an impressive 46 yard touchdown run.
Byron Murphy was told by his coach that the greats from this program had gone out as state champions and for him, doing so means the world.
“I was thinking about that on the bus ride here,” Murphy told Sports360AZ after the game. “Every player like Christian (Kirk) and D.J. (Foster), they were all seniors who went out with a ring in the state game. So that was definitely on my mind the whole ride here.”
In the end, Saguaro was just too much on both sides of the ball and have now won eight state championships in the last ten years.