November 26, 2004
It sure didn’t seem likely Saguaro would be playing football this late in the season. After the Sabercats opened the season with a loss at Glendale Cactus, you had to assume they wouldn’t be alive in this, the third week of the 4A state playoffs.
It seemed even less likely the Sabercats would still have their equipment out this week when they had to travel to defending state champion and unbeaten Tucson Sunnyside last Friday for a quarterfinal game. Then, with the Sabercats clinging to a 6-0 lead, it finally appeared their run was over when the Blue Devils marched to the Saguaro 2-yard line in the last minute of the game.
Guess what? As they have all season, the Sabercats overcame another obstacle and stuffed Sunnyside to hang on for the victory, meaning they have a rematch with Cactus tonight at 7 at Glendale Apollo. The winner advances to the state championship game.
"We’re just happy with what we have done this year," said Saguaro coach Mike Reardon. "The kids have bought into everything we’ve asked them to do."
Reardon admits he even is a bit surprised at all the success the Sabercats (11-1) have enjoyed in only his second season at the school.
"I think going into the year, we didn’t know what we had attitude-wise," said Reardon. "But we knew we had to convince the kids to work."
What is especially impressive about the Sabercats is they have had this great a season without many stars, just good overall team play.
"There’s no secret to what we’re doing," said Reardon. "We don’t have superstars. We know we don’t. Everyone has to contribute for us."
Reardon knows the Sabercats are once again underdogs to Cactus, which beat them 33-10 on Sept. 3.
"I can’t speak for the kids, but we know we are underdogs," said Reardon. "That is no surprise. We knew we were underdogs because of how we started the season."
Saguaro senior quarterback John Sanders said the players understand their situation.
"I think our team has taken it all in stride," said Sanders. "We’ve bounced back from losing to Cactus. We’ve been able to fight adversity."
Sanders likes the Sabercats’ chances against Cactus.
"We both have come a long way. Both teams will have new things put in," said Sanders. "I’m ready to step up to the challenge. I think we’re ready."
Reardon said win or lose tonight, it has been a special season.
"It’s darn storybook is what it is," he said.