Where does Saguaro go from here?
It didn’t take very long for John Sanders to find new employment, as all signs point to him latching on with Arizona State after getting fired as football coach of Saguaro on Wednesday.
With that likely settled, let’s turn our attention to the Sabercats and their search for a new coach. The school is now accepting applications, and will start conducting interviews during the week of Jan. 23. There seem to be two schools of thoughts on which way the administration will go with the new hire:
1) Stay in-house. If the administration believes Sanders was the main problem, not the program’s culture, then it makes sense to keep the assistant coaching core intact. Offensive coordinator Jason Mohns and line coach Chris Chick are big reasons for Saguaro’s success, and if they stay on, the Sabercats will probably look similar to what they did under Sanders, just with a different coach at the helm. If the in-house option is preferred, here are the two logical candidates:
* Mohns. His biggest knocks are inexperience and age. The 30-year-old was the program’s offensive coordinator this year, but it was his first season playing a vital role on varsity after coaching the freshman team the previous few seasons. He has head coaching experience with Salt River, but it’s a big jump to the pre-eminent Division III program. Still, Mohns is a smart coach and helped Saguaro’s offense put up ridiculous numbers this season. He’s the most logical choice if someone from the current staff is chosen.
*Matt Lewis: If Sanders was fired a year ago, Lewis would have been the no-brainer in-house option. However, Lewis, the team’s offensive coordinator for three of the state championships, was hired by McClintock last offseason. He still has a good relationship with many people at Saguaro, including several assistants, and a return to the school would also keep the stability within the program. Lewis went 3-7 last year at McClintock, which, from the administration’s standpoint, may take some luster off his candidacy. On the flip side, it’s unknown if Lewis will even apply for the job after accepting the position with McClintock so recently.
2) The second school of thought is that there needs to be a complete overhaul. Obviously, if this happens, no one knows what direction the administration will end up going. Saguaro takes advantage of open-enrollment and transfers like the other top programs in the state, and if there is a significant philosophy shift spearheaded by principal Brian Corte, then there could be some big changes. As it stands, Saguaro is still going to be one of the top teams in Division III next season behind quarterback Luke Rubenzer, wide receiver Christian Kirk and running back Erik Swanson. If a more conservative coach comes in and makes it clear he won’t be as lenient in accepting transfers, Saguaro’s reign atop Division III could come to a quick end. Then again, if a proven coach comes in, the team may play differently, but could still be in the title mix with a different look. When Tim and Teddy Ruben played quarterback, Saguaro’s spread option was hard to stop because of their mobility, and the pair fit perfectly into the offense. Rubenzer is mobile enough, but also has the arm to succeed in other types of offenses, so a new system wouldn’t be a season-killer.
It will certainly be an interesting next few weeks at Saguaro. The administration’s decision will help shed light on whether it viewed Sanders as the bad egg or if it wants a complete rebuild.