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UPDATED: Tempe vs. Saguaro aftermath

Posted by on September 8, 2012 – 1:50 pm

UPDATE 9/12:   AIA releases statement about Saguaro-Tempe football game…….

The Arizona Interscholastic Association is a voluntary association of public and private Arizona high schools and serves as the governing body to promote fair and equitable competition between member schools. As an organization, the AIA oversees interscholastic activities that create personal development opportunities with a balanced focus on academics and extracurricular activities. The student participants and their overall safety is always at the forefront of the AIA’s actions, policies and decision making.

On September 7, 2012, the football game between member schools Tempe and Saguaro High School ended after Tempe High School forfeited the game shortly before half time. Tempe High School took the position that they did so for the safety of its players. This forfeiture along with the allegations made against Saguaro High School have been brought to the AIA for consideration. The AIA provides a process, under the organization’s bylaws and the National Federation of High School Associations (NFHS) contest rules, which allow both schools the opportunity to come to an amicable conclusion so both teams can carry on with the season.

After thoroughly reviewing the game breakdown, video tapes and reports from each school, the AIA believes the officials and referees acted appropriately. The game tapes and reports establish that both team committed un-sportsman like conduct penalties. Penalty calls were appropriately made against each side.

Total Penalties: Saguaro 16 – Tempe 14                                     
Personal Fouls: Saguaro 5 – Tempe 1                    
Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Saguaro 1 – Tempe 3                     

Additionally, a Saguaro player, and Tempe Assistant Coach were each ejected from the game. No evidence has been provided that either team deliberately attempted to cause injury.

Today, the AIA facilitated a meeting between the member high school administrators to share the reports and discuss the findings. As stated in their joint press release, Scottsdale Unified and Tempe Union school districts will continue to work with the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) and support its investigation. All parties concerned are committed to ensuring that students are provided an opportunity to compete in interscholastic activities while adhering to the constitution and by-laws of the AIA.

If sanctions are warranted against either team, it will be decided and announced by the AIA Board of Directors at the next scheduled board meeting on October 22, 2012.


UPDATE 9/12:  After both schools met with the AIA on Wednesday morning, Tempe Union School District issued the following statement:

Since last Friday’s Tempe vs. Saguaro football game, the superintendents from the Scottsdale Unified School District and the Tempe Union High School District have been in continuous communication to ensure that the circumstances surrounding the events of last Friday are properly investigated and addressed according to each district’s Governing Board Policies and Administrative Procedures. The primary concern has always been, and will continue to be, the safety of all students and the proper conduct of students, staff and officials.

 Scottsdale Unified and Tempe Union will continue to work with the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA), fully trusting in the AIA’s ability to properly investigate this matter. The AIA and each school district are committed to ensuring that all students are provided an opportunity to compete in interscholastic activities while adhering to the constitution and by-laws of the AIA. 


In the wake of Tempe and Saguaro controversial game and conclusion on Friday night, well, there’s still a wake to wade through.

Here’s the nuts and bolts of what happened on Friday night, and Tempe coach Brian Walker said (very) late Friday night that three of his four injured players were released from the hospital.  As of 2 a.m. Friday night/Saturday morning, Jordan Wiatr was still being tested and examined at the hospital.

Walker guesstimated his other injured kids – Emanuel Gant, Terry’on Wycoff and Messiah Smith – would miss a couple weeks. The school plans to send game tapes to the AIA for review of the game.

Walker didn’t immediately return a phone message seeking an update Saturday afternoon, but Tempe High principal Mark Yslas sent out a letter to Tempe parents and students on Saturday morning:

Familia Tempe,

Today I’m asking the entire Tempe Familia to keep the players who were injured in last night’s football game vs Saguaro in your thoughts and prayers.  Emanuel Gant, and Terry’on  Wycoff were given CT scans and MRIs to check for head related trauma, and thankfully,  results were negative.  Messiah Smith suffered bruised ribs, and Jordan Wiatr has a mild concussion. 

Although we are not out of the woods yet, the players seem to be recovering steadily and medical personnel are seeing goods signs as they monitor their progress.  

I am extremely proud of Shelly Arredondo, our Athletic Director and Head Coach Brian Walker for forfeiting the game right before halftime last night. Ms. Arredondo and Coach Walker and the entire Tempe football community will be criticized and second guessed for that decision for quite some time.  Sometimes coaches, Athletic Directors, and fanatical football fans are blinded by the final score and the machismo factor that goes with football.  Sometimes they care more about their reputation than doing the right thing, making sure kids are safe and healthy.  Not at Tempe High. 

Ms. Arredondo and Coach Walker recognized that the opposing team was not just out to win the game, they were out to injure our players.  Saguaro was penalized 12 times for unfair play.  They had nine personal fouls, and three unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, and one player ejection for a flagrant foul.  Three of the Tempe players that were injured suffered their injuries from an illegal contact, flagged by the referee.  It is extremely rare for a team to be flagged/penalized 12 times for  personal fouls/unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in one season, let alone one half of a football game. 

Ms. Arredondo and Coach Walker are as competitive as they come; however, they will never jeopardize the health and welfare of our student athletes.  Forfeiting last night’s game was not about getting beat on the scoreboard and being physically dominated, it was about recognizing that the opponent, in this case Saguaro High School, was not going to pursue victory with honor and they did not deserve to be on the same field with an honorable team like Tempe High.

I am proud of our players for not stooping to Saguaro’s level and remaining respectful of the game. The Buffaloes were only penalized once for unsportsmanlike conduct and that was the result of a player complaining to an official, not for an attempt to injure a Saguaro player. Our Tempe High players did not retaliate, and they continued to play fairly, with honor and pride until the game was called.  

Today, I am wearing my Tempe High colors with honor and pride.  I will defend the actions of our football staff and our players to anyone.   

Once a Buffalo always a Buffalo!  

–Mark Yslas
Principal of Tempe High


Yslas’ letter notes that Saguaro was called for nine personal foul penalties, but Saguaro coach Jason Mohns said Saturday that his team was whistled for six personal foul penalties (two for roughing the passer, two for late hits, a facemask and another for celebration).

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  • bewildered says:

    Wow, the Tempe principle is certainly cut from the same cloth as the football team. He sure can spread propaganda and lies very quickly! To quote from his “familia” letter, “(Saguaro)had nine personal fouls, and three unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, and one player ejection for a flagrant foul”…

    Um, I was at that game and it was a Tempe football coach who was ejected from the game for trying to take on the whole Saguaro side line with his own two hands?!?!? The fact that 3 of the 4 kids that were “injured” walked away with NO injuries actually (“bruised ribs”, whatever)after being fully examined by Medical professionals shows clearly that those boys just gave up – just in time for the coaches and the AD to jump on the bandwagon out the door!!

    The film review is warranted and I for one look forward to the final report which will show that all of these false lies and acusations against Saguaro and it’s football team are only partial truths that take away from the excellent football program run at Saguaro.

  • TMan43 says:

    This was a letter that had to be written, however the wording of the letter leaves a lot to be desired. That principal is inciting the parents and other fans to riot when Saguaro, or for that matter any other Scottsdale School goes to Tempe. Case in point here, Coronado High School is traveling to Tempe for a football game next Friday. Will those players and fans be safe? The only solution here given the contents of this letter is to cancel all remaining games (in all sports) with Tempe High School until further notice. This is a safety issue if there ever was one and both districts should take a close look at this major problem.

  • a parent says:

    Well, this is the kind of thing that happens when people are put into positions they are not ready for. According to people that really know, Mohns is a good or even very good offensive coordinator (although without phenoms like DJ Foster and Christian Kirk I am not so sure) but he has neither the maturity or experience to run a big program. If the comments from current players and parents is any indication as to what is really going on in that program, it is a disorganized, undiciplined mess with only one clear objective-win.

    As I hear it, Mohns is a insecure control freak that either by design or sheer incompetance keeps parents, boosters and even his staff in the dark about critical information but then runs the kids until they vomit when they miss practices that were set at the last minute. Game programs were not ready for the home opener because he did not respond to numerous requests for information. They have not had a single coaching staff meeting. Key players are openly rebelling on the practice field against his coaching style. And what happened to those new coaches like the much hyped juan roque that was introduced to the Sag boosters but have since disappeared? Word is that they didn’t like the I AM GODS GIFT TO THE FOOTBALL COACHING WORLD AND I KNOW EVERYTHING THERE EVER WAS TO KNOW ABOUT THIS GAME SO YOU JUST STAND THERE AND BE QUIET attitude, they actually wanted to have some input and coach.

    The sad thing about this most recent incident with Tempe is that the kid that made the viscious hits shouldn’t even have been on the field. He and a couple other kids were busted a few days prior for smoking pot and under most coaches rules they would have been benched, suspended or kicked off the team but not under mohns win at all costs so I can justify my hiring and move on to the next level plan.

    I hate to say it but I told you so. OJT is a bad way to run a major high school football program. You should have hired someone that had a solid background as a player (college or pro but at least as a high school player) or a seasoned coaching resume’ or preferrably both but Mohns has neither. Starting your own youth club team, 8 man football on the reservation, video games and youtube are a poor substitute for the real thing and the parents, alumni and the players, especially the transfers, are starting to see that now.

    Sorry Saguaro but you got what you deserve. You sold your soul for the prospect of another championship. Lets hope for the sake of the kids that this is a wake up call to the head coach that it is not all about him and that winning is not the only worthy goal to high school football.

  • SAGUARO 09 Alum says:

    Got rings?!
    WOOOO go CATS!

    Who’s next!? Let’s keep the win streak going!!

  • Jayme says:

    This is a joke, right? Their principal was not at the game. Saguaro the reigning state champs are never out to hurt anyone. The players who left in an ambulance are fine. Clearly they didn’t want to play anymore because they were embarrassed. Did their principal fail to mention their head coach was EJECTED for charging the saguaro sideline? Tempe high is pathetic at sports and their players had been talking a lot of smack to the saguaro players all week to saguaro. They are poorly coached and obviously have poor personal character. Send your tape to the AIA, Tempe. They will tell you your team of girls don’t belong on the football field

  • RG2 says:

    A head coach overlooking an incident that happened to a player?? Wow, sounds horrible. What do you think he was gonna do? He’s just like any head coach who would turn a blind-eye to a player who messes up. I’m not even sure if that story is accurate. THAT HAPPENS AT EVERY PROGRAM. I hear stories like that daily.

    As for “A Parent”- Stop obsessing over Saguaro Football. You’re either a parent of a bench warmer, a know-it-all, or someone really bored and in badly need of a hobby. Jason took over a program that was already under so much scrutiny for the way Sanders was for so many years. And in case you didn’t know, every Head Coach in this sport is an insecure freak. What would you consider yourself?

    As for Tempe High. Let’s face it, they wanna make excuses for the loss that was gonna take place. I would rather have an “insecure freak” as my Head Coach, than one who tells his team to QUIT at half when they are getting their butts kicked. That to me is the real story. Last I checked, football is a tough and grueling sport. and the refs had the game under control. The only person who wasn’t under control was Tempe’s Head Coach. I hate to say it but, I find it sad Tempe wants to put the blame on others for their coach being a coward. This was Tempe’s 1st meaningful game in many years. And in typical Tempe culture, blame others for their faults. All people talk about is the “athletes” that Tempe has. That’s a joke. I saw cry-baby’s followed by a a Coach who would rather quit a battle and surrender, then finish.

    Jason Mohns is doing great. Anyone who takes over a winning program that was under tons of controversy will have it tough. One thing’s for sure, he will finish a game despite the score at half.

  • a concerned parent in general says:

    Regardless of the “score” point being was that with almost 2 minutes left in the game, its only 2nd quarter and it was almost 9:30pm! Last I checked, the game should have well been into the 4th quarter, if not almost ending! After just about every play, flags were thrown! The safety of every kid on that field whether it was Saguaro or Tempe should be what matters most! If as a Coach, Tempe High’s coach felt that his kids were in danger, then he had every right to pull his team! True or not, that was the responsible thing to do. As a parent, if i “feel” that my child’s safety is at risk, then I’m doing what I feel is best for them, PERIOD! What Tempe High’s principal wrote to his parents is his business! He had his rights to his opinion! As far as Tempe needing to have their season cancelled is non-sense. If that’s the case, shouldn’t both schools have their season suspended until further investigation? This is not the NFL, these kids are supposed to get the experience and education of football! At the end of the day, kids were hurt, some hospitalized! Just in case you don’t watch the news, concussions are becoming more of an issue in all levels of football! They may show signs of being “ok” now, but another hit could injure them or anyone else for that matter for life! So maybe we ALL need to get off of pointing fingers and focus on how these kids are doing! Again, it doesn’t matter which players were hurt, KIDS WERE HURT! Just FYI, it was NOT their head coach that was ejected! It was one of the Assistant Coaches (the defensive coordinator). So maybe ALL FACTS need to be looked at! Everyone can give their opinions, AIA will make the final decision!

  • a parent says:

    Got rings? You mean those ridiculously and grotesquely large and gawdy superbowl knock offs?

    I was at the game and have also seen video of it. Both teams were running their mouths and doing some post whistle pushing. It was coming mostly from the same small number of players. The injuries came, with one exception, from good old fashioned hard play that looked legal to me both at the time and watching the tape afterwards.

    I thought then and even more so now after the hosptial checked them out and released them that a couple of the Tempe kids took a dive. Especially the quarterback. They were being beaten soundly and simply didn’t look like they wanted any more of it. They were clearly out matched physically and were not adjusting to what Saguaro was doing.

    The exception occurred on what ended up to be the last play of the game, Tempe was punting. Saguaros number 6 came all the way in from the middle linebacker position, untouched and well after the ball had already been kicked leveled a blocking back that was turned towards the punter. The Tempe player did not see the Saguaro player coming and that was the reason for the penalty and his ejection. It was a cheap shot and in my opinion purposeful. 6 was one of the ones pointing and pushing through out the game and should have been pulled by the Saguaro coaches to cool down or sit. As I said earlier, he wouldn’t have even been suited up for this game if it were up to most coaches due to his little weed problem but mohns let it slide because he is a starter. Again, it is more about winning than character with mohns because he doesn’t have any.

    Interesting to hear the spin from both sides. Tempe whining about getting hit too hard and Saguaro saying what, we didn’t do anything, we are just playing physical football. Yea, well that is not exactly how you describe it when you are yelling at your players at practice now is it coach.

    As for Tempe tucking tail and heading for the buses, it was pretty lame and something I have never seen or even heard of but then again mohns has a reputation for keeping the first team in and running up the score. Points scored matters under the current playoff system and it is all about getting another one of those big ugly rings, right. Come on people, it is high school football, not the NFL.

  • soccer says:

    Hey Jayme,

    Just for the record Tempe men’s soccer defeated Saguaro twice last year. We can play sports here…

  • Hades_51 says:

    Unlike most of the people that are commenting on the Saguaro/Tempe game last week I was actually there. I have coached football for many years from youth through high school and into DII. The “penalized 12 times for unfair play” includes false starts, off-sides, pass interference, and personal fouls(Tempe had 10). There were 6 flags for personal fouls and in my opinion at least 4 of them were bogus. The other 2 were the type that happens in every game, every week, at every school, every year. Tempe was completely outmatched and outcoached by superior athletes moving at a much higher speed, plain and simple. Nobody on that field or in the stands wants to see any kid get injured and we all got a sick feeling when the 2 ambulances came on the field.

    The first injury was a wide receiver going for a ball who took a hit and suffered a concussion. The defender did not lead with his helmet, just delivered a hard hit.

    The second injury was the QB who was taken off in an ambulance. He was sandwiched between a linebacker and a D-Lineman as he released the ball. A flag was thrown on the play because the player behind grabbed the top of his helmet to try and bring him down. He did not grab the facemask but was called for it.

    The next injury occurred on a kickoff after Saguaro scored. In all my years of watching football I have never seen a hit like that. It was absolutely clean and legal to the midsection of the Tempe player and he was unconscious before he hit the ground. The only flag on the play was on the Tempe coach who rushed the field like he was going to attack the Saguaro player. The Tempe coach was the only ejection of the game. This player stayed on the sidelines the remainder of the game.

    The last injury was on a Tempe punt. A linebacker for Saguaro blocked his assignment and in the opinion of the referee blocked for too long……not after the whistle……but after the ball was gone. The flag was thrown, the Tempe player clapped and pointed to the flag, ran down the field about 15 yards and then collapsed. He was also taken to the hospital.

    After approximately 45 minutes the teams were sent to the locker room with 1:35 left on the clock in the 2nd qtr. They were then seen boarding the busses to go home.

    The Tempe principle can try and justify his and the coach’s decision to quit all they want by saying Saguaro was trying to intentionally hurt their players but it is an out and out lie. They quit because they were getting outplayed, outcoached, outclassed, and embarrassed. In the end the lesson they taught their kids is that when the going gets tough, quit and claim that the other side was cheating. Pathetic.

  • Saguaro fan says:

    Tempe wasn’t prepared for saguaro, they still would have lossed without the injuries, it would be a miracle
    If they could even score, Saguaro is hungry for that 3-peat and its going to be tough to stop them.

  • a parent says:

    there were two ejections. The Tempe Head Coach and Saguaros number 6 for the last hit on the punt. Per AIA rules he will have to sit out their next game.

    I don’t have a problem with Saguaro or any other high school, my problem is with their coaches. Sanders was a dirt bag in a lot of ways both on and off the field, mohns was his scrawny little yes boy and now he is the head coach carrying on the low principle tradition. I have seen mohns in the youth football leagues for years and he is a piece of work. An example of the new breed of non-player coach that is in it for his own self enrichment and ego building. Couldn’t play himself so he became a coach and latched on to the closest phenom to haul himself up the ladder. He should text DJ Foster every day and thank him for the Saguaro Head Coach position.

    Not all coaches are insecure control freaks, just control freaks. The insecure ones are the ones that are in way over their heads and are desparately trying to keep that fact concealed.

    Oh mohns will finish the game against a far more physically and technically superior opponent where he is being beaten like a stray dog but he will use his third string and JV kids as canon fodder just like he did last year when Chap trouched them 65-0.

    Actually, now that I think about it, I don’t know which is worse when facing certain defeat. Saguaros keeping their starters on the bench and laying downn or Tempes heading for the buses at half time. Both are terrible examples of sportmanship that deserve ridicule and infamy. Those players will never live those games down and shame on their selfish coaches for doing that to them.

    Regardless, this is all a big deal about nothing, the AIA is not going to do anything about it anyway. Saguaro wins, Tempe loses and the games slides a little farther down a slippery slope.

  • P Diddy says:

    If you have the rep of thug and play like “thugs” you might be a thug. I have coached football for a very long time and all my teams have or had great quickness and speed. They all play to the whistle and very hard. That was and still is, my teams calling card. We never in my years had that many flagrant personal foul calls in a season let alone a game. Not even a half of a game. I have no personal feeling for either team but is that how you want your team to act and treat this great game?

  • A CHAP PLAYER says:



  • wow says:

    Are any of you familiar with Tempe High baseball or football? they are quite used to losing by enormaous margins – they just love to play. For many of them it’s all they’ve got. The score never has been nor ever will be a reason for them to lay down or forfeit, never. The football team beat their rivals – McClintock for the first time in 7 years a few weeks ago. They also won their first game with Poston Butte, they’ve already beat last year’s record! This was so NOT about the score or losing. This was about player safety. Who would send their kids to slaughter. Three ambulances before halftime. Three ambulances on the field before halftime taking players to the hospital. There is no way in hell an anmbulance would be called if the player didn’t need it, you can’t fake an injury like that, come on.
    Say what you want – but Tempe was definitely not embarasssed by the score. They should not be in the same division as Saguaro, they would be the first to tell you that. there is a reason for divisioning and the AIA has put kids in danger with their last re-divisioning. Plain and simple. THAT is what should be taken away from all this.

  • a parent says:


    It was two ambulances not three (typical THS exageration). And under todays current medical protocols a player can absolutely turn getting your bell rung or a stinger into a big deal that requires that kind of emergency medical response. All you have to do is answer a couple of questions incorrectly, act like you are out of it or say your neck hurts.

    It occurs to me that the two worst examples of high school sportsmanship that I have witnessed were within the last year and both involved Saguaro. Not putting your best team on the field to compete honorably against Chap and now Temepe hitting the eject lever and bailing out for the buses at half time. Scottsdales administrators need to take a long hard look at that program to see if it is really the image they want to project.

    The real winner here is the adolescent Mohns. This incident has gotten his name out there and that is what is important to him. Any publicity, even bad publicity, is good publicity. As utterly absurd as it sounds, he is now the bad boy coach of the valley and look for him to develop and capitalize on that infamous reputation. Jerry Springer football is now playing at Saguaro.

  • a parent says:

    hey odegard. You reported that the boy coach would punish any cheap shots after reviewing the game films. Have you asked him what he is doing to #6? The hit he put on the last play of the game, the punt, was as cheap as it gets. Tempes #5 was turned around looking at the punter when #6 leveled him which is what got him ejected and rightly so. So what is mohns going to do about that? Nothing I bet.

  • Another Parent says:

    Enough Scott! You are sounding like an obsessed nut!

  • a parent says:

    You people are such a bunch or Argos kool aid drinkers. Speaking of which, when is somebody going to look into the Argos/Saguaro feeder program?

  • Anonymous says:

    Sorry to comment so late, but has anyone looked into saguaro football at all? For at least the last five years they have been the dirtiest most unsportsmanlike team in the state and probably one of the dirtiest and unsportsmanlike in the nation. And people really thought this would stop with the firing of sanders and hiring of mohns: his Right hand man that brought in all of the recruits(the ONLY reason why Saguaro is so good.)? and after all this time saguaro was let off the hook and even looked upon positively? This is a program that favors certain athletes and trains them to think they are better than everyone else(an extreme moral issue in football and life, especially when it’s to the level of some of these saguaro players). Why the hell does the AIA let them get away with this?I’m not all for “safety first” and very cheesy morals(we could focus more on the game itself), but as far as I looked into(far!!!) saguaro as a football program AND the school for backing it up and being centered on it is extremely morally corrupt (at least around this sport)and someone needs to do something about it.

  • Anonymous says:

    ^and I understand that it is just a football program: but 3 kids in the hospital because of this? Something should have been done about this

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