After a slow start in the first half of the game, Saguaro was able to claw its way back to a 38-24 victory over Chaparral on Friday night.
The Sabercats' used a strong second half to fulfill their comeback, as 31 of the team’s 38 total points were scored in the last two quarters of play. There was a general sense of frustration among the sideline that could be sensed from both coaches and the players early on in the game, but it was something they worked on addressing at the half.
“We just said we’ve got to come out and get some stops. We’ve got to stop shooting ourselves in the foot," Saguaro coach Jason Mohns said. "We need to stop taking costly penalties, and if we do that and we make it a football game, we feel like we are a better team and there isn’t anything in the first half that we couldn’t stop or couldn’t have some success against.”
“We went into the locker room, but before we even went in there we knew how to handle it and what we had to do," Saguaro defensive back Damian Sellers added. "We had to tighten up a couple calls and adjust to some things they were lining up in."
There was a distinct momentum shift at the end of the third quarter.
Saguaro athlete Javen Jacobs recovered a fumble, setting the team up for senior Kelee Ringo’s 23-yard touchdown run. It was on that play that Saguaro was able to tie the game at 17-17 before eventually pulling away.
Saguaro’s strong and explosive run game was what helped propel them to a win. The Sabercats rushed for nearly 275 yards in the second half alone, with Ringo leading the way with 160 of the team's 380 total rushing yards on the night. Ringo also had two touchdowns.
“We came out pretty soft at the beginning of the game, and that kind of shot us in the foot," Ringo said. "In the second half, it most definitely was a good thing for us to come out hard, and that’s exactly what we did."
Ringo would have had a third touchdown, too, had it not been for an unsportsmanlike conduct call during the play. Ringo was taunting a Chaparral defender as he ran into the end zone, bringing the ball back to the point of the foul.
“At first when it happened, it hurt me so bad," Ringo said of the penalty. "I feel like I let my team down, really. Honestly, the best thing for me to do was to come out and make up for it, and that’s exactly what I did."
It was a rough night for Saguaro in terms of penalties.
The team had 130 yards against them because of yellow laundry on the field. Mohns emphasized that they are going to continue working on that issue, but says the team hasn’t learned its lesson and it’s a reflection of him as a coach.
“I’ve tried to do some things to stop it, but obviously I haven’t done enough so as a coach," Mohns said. "I’ve got to sit down with my coach staff and we’ve got to get it right. We need to let guys know it’s not going to be tolerated."
“Penalties are a big thing, especially in a close game where you have good competition, it’s something that can cost you the game," Sellers added. "That was something that we saw in our loss. We had a lot of penalties out in California and that cost us the game."
It’s something Saguaro will be focusing on Saturday morning, as Mohns says they’re doing extra conditioning for the lack of discipline.
“We run on Saturdays for penalties, so we’re probably in good shape because we have so many dang penalties that we run so much on Saturdays,” Mohns said jokingly. “We’re gonna make sure the message gets through. That’s my job as a coach.”
Saguaro’s win advances it to 4-1 on the season. The Sabercats will look to knock off Arcadia (4-0) from the undefeated ranks next Friday on the road. Meanwhile, Chaparral (2-2) will look to rebound against Mountain Ridge (4-1).
“We’ve just got emphasize getting stops on third downs and getting some takeaways,” Mohns said.
Sag 7 0 10 21 -- 38
Chap 10 7 0 3 -- 24
Chap – Christakos 20 field goal, 5:52
Chap – Silbor 37 pass to Christakos (Christakos kick), 3:36
Sag – Beverett 7 pass to Shaffer (Lewis kick), :09
Chap – Christakos 7 pass to Wes Mason (Christakos Kick), 5:01
Sag – Lewis 14 field goal, 6:45
Sag – Ringo 23 run (Lewis Kick), :01
Sag – Ringo 51 run (Lewis kick), 9:06
Sag – Beverett 57 run (Lewis Kick), 5:59
Chap – Williams 1 run (Christakos kick), 5:03
Sag – Pettijohn 68 run (Lewis Kick), 3:28