D-III champ Saguaro keeps football engine running in spring
Originally published: May 8, 2014 - 12:00 am
It didn’t take long for football players from Scottsdale Saguaro to start champing at the bit to get going again after capturing the Division III state championship in 2013.
“After about four days of being off, they started knocking down the door of the weight room,’’ said coach Jason Mohns.
The enthusiasm has carried over to spring ball, where the Sabercats are wrapping up their second of three weeks on the field. They will finish up next weekend with a 7-on-7 “spring game’’ and big man weight-lifting competition.
Mohns said about 80 players, current freshmen through juniors, are participating.
Mohns and his staff are excited about the quality displayed by those players.
“The great thing is that many of them are battling for jobs, and that’s what you want,’’ Mohns said.
The coaches are doing a lot of teaching but not a lot of conditioning. The pace of that will increase during seven-on-seven competitions with other schools in passing leagues and as the 2014 season approaches.
Saguaro lost to neighborhood rival Scottsdale Chaparral (Division II) to begin last season, but then ran off 13 straight wins, including the 47-25 win over 2012 champion Queen Creek in the title game at the University of Arizona Stadium in Tucson. Saguaro now has seven state football titles.
“We’ve got a good corps of players coming back and a lot of them also are good leaders,’’ Mohns said.
One player who won’t be coming back, whose shoes will be difficult to fill, is quarterback Luke Rubenzer, who set season and career records for touchdown passes and was prolific running the ball. Rubenzer will be a freshman at the University of California-Berkeley this fall.
The man who served as Rubenzer’s primary backup last year was Kare (pronounced Car-ay) Lyles. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound junior-to-be already is receiving a lot of attention from college recruiters.
Mohns calls him an athletic pocket passer.
“He’s got a strong arm and he’s athletic. He’s not going to run for 3,000 or so yards like Luke did, but he is capable of hurting you with his feet.
“He certainly has a lot of potential, but he hasn’t done anything in a game yet.’’
Somebody who has done things in games is senior-to-be Christian Kirk. He is out of the mold of former Saguaro star D.J. Foster, now at Arizona State.
“We want him to touch the football,’’ Mohns said.
This is why:
In the state championship game, Kirk rushed 18 times for 156 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and caught five passes for 101 yards and two more scores.
Kirk has received offers from many of the major football powers across the country.
“He sets a good example. As good as he is on the field, he might be even better off it,’’ Mohns said.
Kirk lined up as a wideout about 60 percent of the time and in the backfield about 40 percent, Mohns said, “but this year, it could be flipped or be 50-50. We don’t want opponents to settle in on him being in only one place.’’
Perhaps Kirk said it best himself after the win over Queen Creek, in regard to the 2014 season:
“We gotta come back and do this again,’’ he said.
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