All week long, the e-mails and phone calls came flooding in.
If Scottsdale Saguaro were to purposely lose to Glendale Cactus tonight, they told coach John Sanders, it would almost assuredly keep the Sabercats at second place in the power points and give them an easier road to the title game in the 4A-I state tournament.
So Sanders posed the question to his players as a bit of a test: Would you prefer to lose this game purposely to set up better playoff matchups?
It made some sense, in that his team is more banged up than at any point this season and it’s hard to beat a team twice (the teams could meet again in the state tournament).
The answer Sanders got back was exactly what he wanted to hear.
“They said, ‘Let’s go beat these guys,’ ’’ Sanders said. “I was real proud of them. They want to do this the right way.”
What the ‘math wizards’ don’t understand, Sanders said, is how competitive football players and coaches are.
“It’s extremely difficult for me to go play a game of checkers and not want to kick your butt,” Sanders said.
There’s also the prospect of an undefeated season, something that hasn’t happened in Saguaro’s 42-year existence.
“Looking at the big picture, the main thing we want is that state championship,” Saguaro quarterback Tim Ruben said. “But we know no team at Saguaro has ever gone undefeated.
“I don’t think they did it in 1995 (that title team went 13-1) and we didn’t do it last year (also 13-1).”
Playing to win and doing so are two different things, and it won’t be easy. The Cobras have a solid defense and one of the best running backs in the state in Mike Brown.
Cactus has wins over Peoria, Tucson Canyon del Oro and Goodyear Millennium among others, and this could be a preview of the state finals.
“We figure we’re the two best teams in the state,” Sanders said. “We know we’ll play them again.”
GAME OF THE WEEK: No. 2 Cactus (9-0) at No. 1 Saguaro (9-0) | 7 p.m.,
Address: 6250 N. 82nd St., Scottsdale