Scottsdale Saguaro coach John Sanders doesn't think twice when uttering Beau Burton's name in the same breath as an ex-Sabercat currently playing on Sundays.
After looking back on what Burton accomplished, it makes sense.
Burton is the 2008 Tribune Player of the Year after rushing for 2,417 yards and 30 touchdowns this season, capping off a career with the Sabercats that saw him win three straight titles and 41 of 42 games.
"We hear Mike Brown's name occasionally (from the title-winning 1995 Saguaro team) because he's still playing with the (Chicago) Bears," Sanders said. "I can guarantee you're going to hear Beau Burton in the same sentence as Mike Brown when you talk about Saguaro football. That puts him in pretty good company."
Burton started on offense and defense for three years at Saguaro, but it was his work this season - when the Sabercats wondered who would pick up the slack for the departed Tim Ruben - that was his most impressive feat.
"Beau was the glue that held this thing together," Sanders said.
Burton had at least 128 yards on the ground in every contest this season, including 148 yards and two touchdowns in the 4A-I title game against Scottsdale Chaparral.
He also had an interception in the title game.
Burton was the leader of a team that prided itself on competitiveness. Heading into the championship contest, Burton said his high school career would be a failure if Saguaro lost.
The success finally sank in a couple of days after the third championship.
"The first Monday after state, we're all sitting around at my house with nowhere to go," Burton said. "No practice or anything. It's like, 'Wow, what do we do now?'"
Burton took that Monday and Tuesday off. By Wednesday, he was back in the gym, preparing for the next level.
He has committed to play for Utah next season.
Work ethic has been his calling card. When Ruben and Justin Shelton graduated after the 2007 title, Burton knew he would be the featured back, with every defense keying on him.
So he went back to work.
"I knew a lot of the offensive stuff was going to be on me, and that was a lot of pressure," Burton said. "So I worked harder than ever, and I think that hard work translated on the field."