Spring football practices began this week at Saguaro High School and the Sabercat players poured into the locker room energized and ready to go. Saguaro is hoping to pick up right where they left off. Last season the Sabercats became the first school in Arizona history to win 5 straight state titles. Saguaro has won the state championship 10 times in the last 12 years. Those numbers are the definition of a dynasty, and one that doesn’t look like it’s going to end anytime soon.
“The five was special just because it was history and being the first one to do it. At this point now, I think it’s just one at a time. It’s not so much thinking about the number, it’s about doing everything we need to do to prepare a really talented team to make another run. Keeping them focused, keeping them hungry, keeping them motivated. Really this has been one of our best off seasons as far as kids being excited, working hard, being anxious for spring ball to start.” Saguaro head coach Jason Mohns said.
The Sabercats graduated some key players including 2 year starting quarterback Max Massingale, who totaled 4,019 yards and 44 touchdowns last season. Also moving on are their top two wide receivers Zach Wilson (79 catches, 1,252 yards, 10 td’s) and Logan Pettijohn (72 catches, 1,383 yards, 16 td’s), as well as leading rusher Josiah Bradley (753 yards, 11 td’s).
“From an offensive standpoint we’re replacing a lot of our yards and touchdowns. We feel really good about the guys we’re replacing them with, really talented young guys, but until they’ve done it with live bullets flying it’s all potential.” Mohns said.
Key returners include a pair of offensive linemen in Jelani Newman and Tye Kassen. Defensively Damian Sellers, Connor Soelle, Clayton Randall, and Seth Robinson all return. Added to the mix will be 3 key transfers with the Hatten twins, Hayden (tight end) and Hogan (linebacker), and defensive back Jacobe Covington.
“Defensively we bring back 8 starters, and we’ve had a couple of key kids who transferred in that were starters last year and have a chance to really help us. Defensively we’re bringing back a ton of firepower, and hopefully that will give time for a really young, talented quarterback Tyler Beverett (class of 2020) to kind of build that timing and chemistry with some of the new guys. The good thing is that Tyler and Will Shaffer (10 catches, 152 yards, 2 td’s), Matt Polk, and Jakob Pettijohn, and some of those guys, they’ve been playing together since youth football, so they’ve already got a good connection. It’s just time to do it on Friday nights with the lights on.” Mohns said.
“Tyler is approaching 6’3” and he’s almost 200 pounds. He can really run. He runs like Luke Rubenzer ran, he’s got a big arm like Kare Lyles (both former Saguaro all state qb’s). I think when you just look at the total package, Tyler has a chance to be one of the best ones to ever come through here as far as his recruit ability, with his height, and his length, and his athletic ability, and also the arm to go with it. He’s a very smart kid, really good on film, and a hard worker in the weight room. We’ve seen special things from him at the lower levels. Tyler just needs to show he can do that at the varsity level and we have full confidence in him to do that.”
Beverett is one of many players that make Sabercats practices a must stop for college coaches. There is a reason they go by the moniker “SagU”. “14 players have division one offers, 11 of those kids are power 5 offers. We have six in the 2019 class, seven in the 2020 class, and we already have one in the 2021 class.” Mohns said.
Leading the way is sophomore cornerback Kelee Ringo, who is rated as the top cornerback in the country and #6 overall player for the class of 2020. Ringo already has close to 30 offers including blueblood programs like Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma, USC, Michigan, Texas, and Florida. The 6’3” 195 pounder is a star on the track as well. He ranks first in the state in the 100 and 200 meters, and has run the 100 meters in 10.58 seconds (which is 2nd best in the country for his age group) and 200 meters in 21.44 seconds.
“He’s physical and he’s long, and he’s got 14 games of damn good game film. I heard Miami’s defensive backs coach Mike Rumph, who played in the NFL for a long time, say the University of Miami doesn’t leave Florida to recruit defensive backs unless it’s somebody special, and he said you’ve got a unicorn. So he’s getting praise from some big time places. He’s a pretty special prospect.” Mohns said.
“It’s truly an honor to keep receiving offers from different schools. I just use it as motivation to get better.” Ringo said.
Saguaro strives to be better by playing the best possible teams they can schedule. This coming season they will continue their trend of playing out of state schools. On August 24th the Sabercats host Liberty (Henderson, NV) and the following week travel to the San Diego area to play Helix.
“Number one it brings a lot of excitement to our program, our community, and I think around the country. Both of the out of state teams we played last year, they were both listed as top games in the country for that week, so it brings a lot of extra eyes and puts our program on a national map. We also try to schedule some of the top teams within the state of Arizona, and we’re rekindling the rivalry with Chaparral this year. We’ve got Desert Edge coming to us, which should be a great game. So we think we’ve put together a really good schedule, with not only top out of state teams, but some really good programs in state, and some old rivalries. We’re playing Chaparral, Desert Mountain, and Arcadia three games in a row. So a really good district rivalry.” Mohns said.
Saguaro will be the favorites once again to win another state championship. The Sabercats have created a culture of success over the years that few have experienced.
“Work ethic, culture, buy in, and continuity amongst our coaching staff. Guys that really get along and enjoy being together, and that are committed to the program. People have bought into trusting the process, and whatever that process may be, whatever path it may be for kids. Kids that want to play division one, or kids that want to get an academic scholarship and want to be part of a football program. We’ve got lots of different backgrounds of people with different wants and needs, but at the end of the day they’ve all bought into being a team and to play for one common goal, which is to win a state championship. We’ve said if you do the things we’re asking you to do within this program, working hard, having a great attitude, taking care of business in the weight room, in the classroom, on the field, then as a coaching staff, and a program, we’ll do everything we can to help you in whatever your future goals are. We’ll help you get there to the best of our ability. Obviously, having support with the parents and the boosters, buy in from all different levels. Administrators, teachers. It’s pretty special right now.” Mohns said.