TUCSON — It isn’t how you start but how you finish…and nobody finishes better than the Saguaro Sabercats who overcame a sluggish start before pulling away from the Salpointe Lancers 42-16 to claim their sixth-straight 4A state championship on a chilly Friday night in southern Arizona.
Head coach Jason Mohns and #SagU once again hoisted the gold ball but it wasn’t easy.
“[Lancers head coach] Dennis Bene and the Salpointe staff, they’re just a formittable opponent with talented players,” Mohns said amidst the midfield post-game celebration. “It’s just crazy we’ve been able to sustain this. I’m just really proud.”
— Jason Mohns (@CoachMohns) December 1, 2018
After Salpointe star junior running back Bijan Robinson tied the game at seven with a 35-yard scamper, Marqui Johnson seemed to temporarily jump-start the ‘Cats returning the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown with just over four minutes to play in the first quarter.
Both teams squandered scoring chances as the teams both missed field goals in the second quarter. With just over a minute before halftime the Lancers inexplicably called a fake punt near midfield which failed. Junior quarterback Tyler Beverett marched #SagU down the field but a last-second field goal attempt sailed wide right and the Sabercats took a 21-13 into intermission.
Saguaro wasted no time, opening the third quarter with a quick scoring drive as Beverett found Will Shaffer on third-and-eight across the middle and the junior tight end outraced the defense for a 78-yard scoring play.
The play seemed to energize Saguaro on both sides of the ball as Salpointe managed just a field goal the rest of the way and Swiss Army knife Hayden Hatten did the rest.
The senior wide receiver took the direct snap on fourth-and-goal from the one and lunged into the end zone to push the lead to 35-16.
Then in the closing moments Hatten threw a jump pass touchdown to Saffer as the ‘Cats pulled away.
Saguaro is your 2018 4A State Champion! ? pic.twitter.com/YqbcfdqYUz
— ArizonaVarsity.com ???? (@AZHSFB) December 1, 2018
“It’s good, it’s still sort of surreal,” Johnson said with a smile after the win. “I’m still trying to soak it all in.”