Video by Jordan Spurgeon
The Arizona Wildcats have the Territorial Cup in their possession for the first time since the 2016 season.
Moana was the No. 1 movie in the country at the time. Sun Devil legend Eno Benjamin had not yet committed to ASU at that time. Friday’s Wildcat quarterback Jayden de Laura was 15 the last time Arizona claimed the cup.
It was a long time coming, and a sticking point for head coach Jedd Fisch, who built around the mantra “It’s Personal.” A big part of exercising a 70-7 loss in 2020 – and taking the next step as a program – was to get the cup back to Tucson.
Mission accomplished after Arizona beat ASU on Friday, 38-35.
“We really felt as if when we got here that we were going to have to start at where it was, coming off of a game that it was in 2020 and build it from the ground up and build it with players first, and culture,” head coach Jedd Fisch said. “We felt that it was going to take time. And we didn’t know exactly where we were last year when we got here. We didn’t know exactly what the season was going to look like the season ended and we felt like going into the offseason, we had a chance to do some really special things.”
The Wildcats notched five wins, well beyond expectations and a massive leap from their lone victory in 2021 against a COVID-riddled Cal team.
Now, the Cats will head into 2023 with expectations.
Aside from junior wide receiver Jacob Cowing – who should test the NFL waters this offseason – the offense will return. Many key contributors on a defense that improved throughout the year were freshman and sophomores.
“The build is still the build the build isn’t changing,” Fisch said. “We’re still trying to get better. We want to get better. We want to bring in more better, more players, better players, and keep building off of what we did.”
“If we continue to get better than the build should never end,” Fisch said. “It’s an infinite game. And that’s what we tell our team that it is an infinite game and all we want to do is just continue to see how good we can be.”
The Wildcats currently have the fifth-best recruiting class in the Pac-12, and the staff has proven they can add talent during the transfer portal as well.
It’s still very much personal for the Wildcats. And it feels like it’s just getting started.