Open Division Photo

Top-ranked Chandler will face off against No. 3 Saguaro for the Open Division championship at 4p.m. at Sun Devil Stadium.

It’s finally happening.

Chandler and Saguaro, two of the most dominant prep football teams in the state in recent years will finally face off against one another to be crowned true state champion.

It will likely be the first time this many future Division I athletes will be on the field at the same time outside of postseason All-Star games. It’s a historic matchup that will cap off a historic prep football season in Arizona.

Chandler, the top-ranked team in the tournament, advanced to the championship after beating No. 8 Chaparral in the quarterfinals and No. 4 Salpointe Catholic in Tucson. The Wolves beat the Firebirds convincingly but struggled at times again a Lancer team filled with major Division I talent.

Salpointe senior running back and Texas commit Bijan Robinson, arguably the best running back to ever come out of Arizona, surpassed 7,000 career rushing yards against the Wolves and had a 50-yard touchdown run. His teammate, senior athlete and Ohio State commit Latham Ransom, helped limit Chandler’s high-powered offense on defense and added a 68-yard touchdown reception of his own. But Chandler’s stifling defense proved to be the difference, as a dominant fourth quarter filled with sacks and a fumble recovered in the end zone fueled Chandler’s will to come out with the win.

Saguaro, the No. 3 team in the Open playoffs, dominated No. 6 Horizon in the quarterfinals before taking on a seventh-ranked Hamilton team that had just beaten the two-time defending 5A champion in Centennial a week prior. The Huskies caught the Sabercats off guard, at one point jumping out to a 16-3 lead. But Hamilton senior quarterback sidelined wit an injury late in the game, Saguaro clawed back into it and eventually took the lead and the win.

Hamilton and Salpointe pushed the top two teams in the state, regardless of classification, to their limits in the semifinals. They, along south the rest of the Open teams, will forever be a part of history.

But now it’s time for more to be made.

The matchup between Chandler and Saguaro is one fans have wanted to see for years. It’s one that will give the winner ultimate bragging rights. But not just for current players on the roster, for the alumni as well. Players that have already made their way through each program, who for years were asked whether they would be able to beat one another if they played.

The time for speculation is over. Thousands are expected to fill Sun Devil Stadium today at 4 p.m. to watch Chandler and Saguaro compete for the Open Division State Championship.

It’s a matchup years in the making. It’s a matchup fans have asked for. Finally, the question, “who would win?” will be answered.

Have an interesting story? Contact Zach Alvira at zalvira@timespublications.com and follow him on Twitter @ZachAlvira.

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