November 27, 2004
Saguaro now knows what Tucson Sunnyside felt like last week.
The Sabercats were denied a trip to the 4A state championship game on Friday, losing 9-0 to Glendale Cactus.
One week ago it was the Sabercats who pitched a shutout, downing defending state champion Sunnyside, 6-0, in Tucson.
The emotion that comes with being so close to a title game was evident as many of the Sabercats fought back tears as they walked off the Glendale Apollo High School field. Only Cactus caused Saguaro trouble this year as they lost twice to the Cobras, in the season opener and then again Friday night.
"We put it all out there the first 11 games,’’ Saguaro coach Mike Reardon said. "We just didn’t have our best performance this week.’’
The Sabercats finished the season at 11-2 and were the 4A East Sky Region champions.
Cactus, meanwhile, goes on to play in the title game at noon next Saturday against Moon Valley at Sun Devil Stadium. The Cobras (12-1) lost to Sunnyside, 21-13, in last year’s title game.
It was the Cactus defense that dominated play, although the Saguaro defense was just about as good.
The Cobras limited the Sabercats to 142 yards of total offense and eight first downs. Saguaro, which didn’t get a first down until late in the first half, was forced to punt nine times.
Reardon didn’t know his name, but watched Cactus linebacker Ladarius Howard cause havoc for Saguaro’s offense all night. Howard came into the game as the Cobras’ leading tackler with 102 on the season.
"I don’t know what his name is, but he had a hell of a night,’’ Reardon said. "He won the ballgame for them.’’
Saguaro’s only offense came from junior running back Tyler Porras. He had 17 carries for 74 yards and finished the season with more than 1,300 yards on the ground.
The Sabercats offense moved into Cactus territory only three times on Friday and not once did Saguaro get inside the Cobras’ 35-yard line.
Saguaro quarterback John Sanders was 6-of-16 passing for 55 yards and one interception. He spent much of the game running away from the Cactus pass rush.
Other than a brief fiveminute stretch in the second quarter, Cactus didn’t come close to scoring either.
The Cobras’ only touchdown came on a 7-yard run by Glenn Koehler. It came after Cactus had earned good field position at the Saguaro 43-yard line. A 23-yard pass from quarterback Jonathan Tobin to Manny Solarez got Cactus inside the Sabercats’ 20-yard line.
Cactus’ other scoring drive was all of 15 yards and it ended with a 37-yard field goal by Ezra Ricks. In all, both scoring drives went a total of 58 yards. Both teams combined for 310 yards of total offense and 60 of those yards came on trick plays.
Saguaro was even ready to attempt a fake punt to get something going, but those plays never developed.
"We were ready to run a couple of fakes, but it never did get communicated,’’ Reardon said. "We have one player that makes those calls and if he doesn’t feel good about it he doesn’t call it.’’