Saguaro captures six straight title with 42-16 win over Salpointe
December 1, 2018 by Andy Morales, AZPreps365
Jason Mohs took over in 2012. By then, Saguaro was already a football power with six state titles, including five in the previous six years, but he had no wins to his name. Oddly enough, his coaching career started out with a loss. What a difference seven years can make.
Mohns is now 86-10 with six of those wins coming on the final weekend of the football season. No one has been better. The Sabercats went from six titles to 12 with the latest coming in a 42-16 victory over Salpointe Friday night to win the 4A state championship held at Arizona Stadium.
Those 10 losses? The Sabercats haven’t lost to a team from Arizona since Sept. 4, 2015. That’s a 47-0 run that includes three big wins against arguably the next best team in the 4A Conference, Salpointe.
“All the wins are equal but I do have a special group of seniors on this team and I’m glad we were able to get them a golden ball,” Mohns said. “It was important to let them go out with a win and we got it.”
Mohns proposed to his wife on the "Block A" in the middle of Arizona Stadium after his first championship and his second child was born three weeks ago. Seven years does make a huge difference.
Some call it a rivalry of sorts. Take Saguaro out of the equation and the Lancers might be celebrating their third state title in a row. The Lancers are working on their own incredible set of numbers with a 27-3 record against 4A opponents dating back to the beginning of the 2016 season. As mentioned before, those three losses came at the hands of Saguaro.
A semifinal loss in 2016 was followed by a loss in the 2017 state championship game. The loss Friday night was the third. There’s no doubt both programs will be favored to do it all over again next year.
The Sabercats are loaded with 19 seniors and it’s a group comprised of next-level athletes like Marqui Johnson, Hayden Hatten and Connor Soelle but Mohns has reloaded so many times, it’s hard to underestimate the next group of players and the next group after that. They will be just as good.
Junior running back Israel Benjamin will be one of Mohn’s next group to take the senior spotlight and he finished the night with 131 yards rushing on 17 attempts. His 10-yard touchdown run put the Sabercats up 7-0 on Salpointe with 4:16 left in the first.
On the other side, Dennis Bene is also known for getting his next group of athletes ready and the Lancers will be very prepared for next year even though he says goodbye to 22 seniors including arguably one of the best athletes in all of Arizona in Mario Padilla.
All eyes will be on Bijan Robinson next year and Robinson came up big against Saguaro with 168 yards rushing including a 36-yard dash past the Sabercat secondary to tie the game up 7-7 with 1:53 left in the first.
The crowd got to see why college coaches are high on Benjamin and Robinson but then came Johnson. Johnson split the middle of the Lancer kicking team and he ran 90 yards almost untouched to put the Sabercats up 14-7 and it was a lead the Sabercats would never give up.
Devin Green hit Dae han Chang from 33 yards out to cut the lead down to 14-13 but the extra point was missed to avoid the tie. An Arizona State commit, Soelle put the Sabercats up 21-13 at the half on a 9-yard run.
“This was an incredible year,” Soelle said. “This is my third and I did it with the rest of my senior guys. I want people to know I’m loyal to my state and I chose to play for ASU. I’m going to work hard to perfect my craft.”
Junior QB Tyler Beverett hit Will Shaffer on a 78-yard score to put the Sabercats up 28-13 but Dominic Chakraborty hit on a 33-yard field goal to cut the lead down to 28-16 with 6:25 left in the third. The game was still in doubt but Hatten scored on a 1-yard plunge and then Hatten completed a 1-yard jump pass to Shaffer to pull away for the 42-16 win.
Green threw for 181 yards to compliment the 190 all-purpose yards put up by Robinson. Padilla finished with 39 yards in limited action due to an injury and junior athlete Lathan Ransom also came up big for the Lancers with 45 yards receiving and 8 tackles. Jr. linebacker Trent Strong also had 8 tackles, Jr. linebacker Shamon Davis added 6 tackles and Jr. DB Charlie Raetzman had five.
“I’ll miss the relationships I had with these guys,” Padilla said. “No matter what happens we will be together. I wish the rest of the guys good luck next year.”
Beverett went 13-18 for 229 yards with Hatten pulling down 112 of those yards. Shaffer finished with 87 yards receiving. Soelle added 7 tackles to his numbers, Sr. Hogan Hatten and Sr. Jayden Swink also had 7 tackles.
The next conference reconfiguration is slated to take place after the 2018-19 season and it’s a sure bet Salpointe and Saguaro will be seeing each other again in the state playoffs next winter before that happens. Both power-programs might be forced to “move up” into the 5A Conference or they might be part of a new conference comprised of the best football teams in the state – a super conference.
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