Quarterback Luke Rubenzer is on a roll, and so are the Sabercats from Scottsdale Saguaro.
The senior completed 26 of 30 passes for 527 yards and tied an 11-man state record for touchdown passes in a game with nine on Monday night (Nov. 25) as Saguaro routed Goodyear Desert Edge 77-48 in a Division III semifinal game at Phoenix Arcadia High.
Rubenzer, who has committed to the University of California, now has a season-record 58 TD passes and a career-record 127.
He and his teammates move on to the state championship game on Friday (Nov. 29) against defending champion Queen Creek at the University of Arizona Stadium in Tucson. Kickoff is 1 p.m. Saguaro defeated Queen Creek 35-28 in a regular-season game on Oct. 4.
Five of Rubenzer’s scoring strikes went to J.T. Nettleton, who caught six passes for 228 yards. Christian Kirk caught eight passes for 138 yards and two TDs. Kirk also rushed for 70 yards and a TD.
Rubenzer fell a yard shy of a 10th TD pass in the fourth quarter when Nettleton had a 29-yard gain to the Desert Edge 1. Isaiah Reece scored on a 1-yard run on the next play.
It was an emotional win for Saguaro, which fell to Desert Edge in last season’s quarterfinals. Saguaro had a big lead then but let it slip away. Not this time.
“This was a big win for us,’’ Rubenzer said. “We had circled our calendars from day one, figuring we would end up playing them (Desert Edge) again at some point.’’
Of the Saguaro passing game, Rubenzer said, “Christian Kirk did a great job, J.T. Nettleton is one of the most underrated receivers you will find and our line did a great job of blocking. Our receivers do a great job of getting open, and you can’t ask for anything else.’’
Saguaro (12-1) rolled up a 42-20 lead at halftime and continued to pour it on.
Desert Edge (12-1) did its best to climb back into it, but had given up too much too early.
“We knew we were going to have a difficult time,’’ Desert Edge coach Rich Wellbrock said of facing Saguaro’s prolific offense. “We didn’t tackle well early on. We tried to get back into it, tried a little bit of everything, but couldn’t do it. The better team won tonight.’’
Desert Edge quarterback Anthony Hernandez also had some big numbers, completing 32 of 47 passes for 455 yards and five TDs. He threw eight TD passes against Surprise Shadow Ridge earlier in the season. Star receiver Elijah Marks caught four passes for 102 yards and a pair of scores Monday night. Running back Jordan Jackson caught 11 passes for 127 yards and a TD.
“We had to stay on top of things because Desert Edge has a good team and we knew they were not going to give up,’’ said Saguaro coach Jason Mohns. “We didn’t want to let them get the momentum (in the second half). Once they would score, we would come right back.’’
He cautioned his players afterward that it wasn’t the team’s goal simply to reach the championship game.
“Our goal is to win it and now we are one step closer,’’ he said.