Division III, Section III
Coach: Jason Mohns
Last year’s record: 12-2, defeated Cactus for the Division III state championship.
Returning offensive starters: 5, including quarterback Luke Rubenzer, who threw for 2,554 yards with 32 touchdowns and four interceptions last season.
Returning defensive starters: 6, including defensive lineman Devin Brunetti, who anchors the line and is the team’s primary run-stopper.
Aug. 24 at Paradise Valley; Aug. 31 at Thunderbird; Sept. 7 vs. Tempe; Sept. 14 vs. Fountain Hills; Sept. 21 vs. Cactus; Sept. 28 at Desert Vista; Oct. 05 vs. Washington; Oct. 12 at Coronado; Oct. 19 at Arcadia; Oct. 26 vs. Chaparral.
Sept. 21 vs. Cactus: These two teams met in the championship game last season and could very well do so again. Saguaro went 2-0 against the Cobras a season ago and this will be another primetime matchup.
Sept. 28 at Desert Vista: The Sabercats led the Thunder by 22 points at halftime of last year’s contest but Desert Vista stormed back for the 31-28 victory. Both teams are defending state champions (Saguaro in Division III; Desert Vista in Division I) and should be contenders again. Depth problems hurt Saguaro in the second half last year, so the Sabercats must get out to a lead early and then try to hold on.
Oct. 26 vs. Chaparral: The fiercest rivalry in the state returned last season, but Saguaro coach John Sanders rested his starters in the regular season finale so they would be ready for the playoffs. Both teams will be stacked again and with new coaches on both sidelines, the rivalry may not be as nasty, but there is a guarantee both squads will play everyone.
Two of the most prominent figures in Saguaro’s rich football history – coach John Sanders and running back D.J. Foster – have both moved on to Arizona State, but they are leaving behind the same mountain of expectations.
New coach Jason Mohns takes over for the ousted Sanders and another state championship is the standard. While the loss of Foster – the Tribune’s Player of the Year after he ran for 3,058 yards and scored a state-record 60 touchdowns – is a big one, the Sabercats still seem to have the most talent in Division III.
Quarterback Luke Rubenzer returns after completing 120-of-166 passes for 2,554 yards with 32 touchdowns and four interceptions as a sophomore. Christian Kirk led the team with 589 receiving yards as a freshman, and will be used in multiple roles offensively as well as in the secondary on defense.
Gena Adams has transferred in from Shadow Mountain and will split carries with Kash Robinson in the backfield.
For the past few years, Saguaro has dominated with an unrelenting offense. The defense, though, has been prone to giving up points, especially because many of the players are used on both sides of the ball.
Mohns hopes that changes in 2012.
“We’ve got six or seven kids that are only defensive kids,” Mohns said. “We’ve got kids on the sidelines and that’s their job. Let’s not make our identity based on scoring 50 points per game. We want to have pride on both sides of the ball. I think people are going to see a different Saguaro defense.”
The schedule is tough, starting with Paradise Valley and including games against Thunderbird, Cactus, Desert Vista and Chaparral.
Saguaro led the Thunder 28-6 at halftime last season, but the eventual Division I champions dominated the second half and won 31-28. Sabercats coach John Sanders did not play his starters last season against the Firebirds because he worried about injuries in the season finale which would hinder the team in the playoffs.
Mohns likes the team's depth and believes it could make a difference against against bigger schools.
“That’s what separates a Desert Vista from Saguaro,” Mohns said. “They were 120 deep across the sidelines and just came in waves. We had six guys who never left the field. We’re not going to have to do that this year.”