Ranking the past six Saguaro teams
After it demolished Cactus on Friday, Saguaro looks like a good bet to win its fifth state championship in six years. With the graduation of Teddy Ruben, Cyrus Hobbi, Brock Haman and others, the Sabercats were expected to take a step back, but instead have started the year 5-0. Running back D.J. Foster may be the most impactful player to put 0n a Saguaro jersey in the program’s impressive six-year run, but where does the team rank compared to years past?
Here are my thoughts:
No. 6) 2009 team
Record: 10-3, lost in 4A-I semifinals to Tucson Sabino, 28-6
Key players: QB Teddy Ruben (Jr.), RB D.J. Foster (Soph.), OL/DL Kody Innes, OL/DL Jordan McDonald, OL/DL Cyrus Hobbi (Jr.), RB Danny Clark (Jr.), RB/DB Lucas Petrullo (Soph.)
Season summary: This was clearly the least dominant of the past six Saguaro teams. The Sabercats lost a ton of talent from the year before, and while there are many recognizable names on the roster, they were still young. Saguaro lost to Oro Valley Canyon del Oro and Cactus Shadows in the regular season and lost in the semifinals to Sabino.
No. 5) 2006 team
Record: 13-1, defeated Sabino 41-21 for 4A-I state championship
Key players: QB Tim Ruben (Jr.), RB Beau Burton (Soph.), DB Max Tabach, WR/DB Shane Anderson, DB Paul Porras (Soph.), DL Corey Adams (Soph.), DL John Sobczuk.
Season summary: Quarterback T.J. Rauch was injured early in the year and Tim Ruben took over and ran the spread offense masterfully. Saguaro lost to Chaparral in the middle of the season, but won every playoff game by at least 20 points. Youngsters likes Beau Burton, Paul Porras and Corey Adams began to make their mark as sophomores. Max Tabach had 16 interceptions in a stacked secondary.
No. 4) 2011 team
Key players: RB/DB D.J. Foster, QB Luke Rubenzer (Soph.), WR/CB Vince Silva, RB Cam Larson, LB Ryan Merrill, OL/DL Rob Dusz, OL/DL Devin Brunetti, WR Christian Kirk (Fr.).
Season summary: The season isn’t over, obviously, but Saguaro has faced two teams expected to be among their chief challengers – Cactus and Thunderbird – and beaten them by a combined score of 132-45. D.J. Foster has been unstoppable, with 1,084 yards rushing and 21 touchdowns on the year, averaging 13.6 yards per carry. Saguaro has games against Desert Vista and Chaparral left on its schedule which will be tough, but if this team stays healthy, there doesn’t seem to be much competition in Division III.
No. 3) 2010 team
Record: 10-2, defeated Canyon del Oro 41-34 for 4A-I state championship
Key players: QB Teddy Ruben, RB/DB D.J. Foster (Jr.), RB Danny Clark, DL Brock Haman, OL Cyrus Hobbi, WR/DB Kyle Young, WR/DB Jon Lindemann, LB Ryan Merrill, LB Wesley Butts, OL Dallas Noriega.
Season summary: Saguaro was hit with a rash of injuries early on and lost to Cactus and Canyon del Oro in back-to-back weeks before getting healthy and winning the 4A-I title. The Sabercats defeated Ka’Deem Carey and an ultra-talented Canyon del Oro squad in the title game. This team is probably the hardest to judge because injuries really affected it. However, by the end of the year the potential was easy to see, and Ruben and Foster were a duo that couldn’t be stopped.
No. 2) 2007 team
Record: 14-0, defeated Canyon del Oro 23-21 for state championship
Key players: QB Tim Ruben, RB Beau Burton (Jr.), RB Justin Shelton, WR/DB Paul Porras, OL/DL Derek Bisgard, OL/DL Joe Kellogg, OL/DL Corey Adams (Jr.), DB Michael Kirkegaard, OL/DL Chris Merrill.
Season summary: The Sabercats won their second of three straight state titles in this one as four Division I linemen opened big holes on offense and dominated on defense. Tim Ruben, Beau Burton and Justin Shelton all ran for more than 1,200 yards and averaged more than 11 yards per carry. Saguaro beat Chaparral twice and needed a last-minute drive to beat Tucson Canyon del Oro in the state championship game. However, the Sabercats controlled that game until a blocked punt and an onside kick recovery changed the complexion of the contest.
No. 1) 2008 team
Record: 14-0, defeated Chaparral 38-0 in the 4A-I championship game
Key players: QB Cole Rarrick, RB Beau Burton, WR/DB Erik Brown, WR/DB Paul Porras, OL/DL Corey Adams, TE/LB Max Smith, LB Ben Bisgard, DL Justin Jungblut, OL Cyrus Hobbi (Soph.), OL/DL Sebastian Sica, DB Austin Swindle.
Season summary: For my money, this was the most dominant Saguaro team of the past six years. It was a senior-dominated group led by Beau Burton and Paul Porras. There were questions about the offense after quarterback Tim Ruben graduated, but the Sabercats had no problem once again putting up gaudy numbers. Erik Brown was a key transfer who played the Wildcat quarterback in the title game against Chaparral, sparking the team to a 38-0 win. The defense was very impressive, as it shut out Chaparral twice and didn’t give up more than 19 points in a game all year.