The AIA high school football playoffs heat up on Friday night with quarterfinal action in Division's I-III. In a battle of Sabercats, seventh-ranked Sabino makes the trip from Tucson to take on second-ranked Scottsdale Saguaro.
Since opening the year with a loss at Division-II rival Chaparral, Saguaro has reeled off 10 straight wins. Saguaro (10-1) cruised past Washington 62-21 behind California-bound Luke Rubenzer. The senior quarterback threw for six touchdowns last week to set the state all-time TD mark with 113 for his career. He also ran for 151 yards on 10 carries in the win.
On the season, Rubenzer has thrown for 3,065 yards with 44 TD's and just three interceptions, all coming in Saguaro's season-opening loss to Chaparral. He has also rushed for a team-best 1,003 yards and seven scores.
Sabino (9-2) has won eight in-a-row since beginning the season just 1-2. Zach Joseph ran for 194 yards and five touchdowns as Sabino topped Tempe 56-49 last Friday for its first playoff win since 2011. That postseason victory preceded a 49-27 loss to Saguaro in the quarterfinals that year, which was also the last time these teams met. Saguaro has won two of the three all-time meetings.
Joseph has rushed for 1,366 yards and 18 TD's this season. Junior quarterback Emilio Araiza has thrown for 1,883 yards with 32 touchdowns and four interceptions for Sabino. Matt Bushman is Araiza's go-to guy. The senior wide out has 57 catches for 1,500 yards and 26 touchdowns.
The winner will advance to face either third-ranked Desert Edge or sixth-ranked Shadow Ridge in the semifinals next week. Kickoff Friday in Scottsdale is at 7pm.
Saguaro will hold a raffle during the game to benefit Charles Youvella, the Hopi High School football player who died Monday from injuries suffered in Saturday's Division V playoff game against Arizona Lutheran Academy. You can also make donations to the Charles Youvella Fund by mailing it to:
c/o Hopi Jr/Sr High School
PO Box 337
Kearns Canyon, AZ. 86034
By Thomas Jenkins