28-game win streak ends, Saguaro football starts over

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                </div>  It has been a tough start to the 2015 season for football powerhouse Saguaro High School.  Not only did the Scottsdale school move up a division this year to […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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It has been a tough start to the 2015 season for football powerhouse Saguaro High School.  Not only did the Scottsdale school move up a division this year to Division II, but they were faced with opening the season against two teams from Division I and one that played in the top division last year.

And one of those games cost the Sabercats their run as owners of the longest winning streak in the state, 28 games.

Saguaro stomped on Valley Vista High School in the opener, a team that is also in Division II, but came down from D-I after last season – when they were a playoff team.  They beat the Monsoon on the road, 62-6, and looked like their move up to D-II play was certainly justified.

But then came a match-up with Centennial High, which won the D-II state title last year before moving up to D-I this season.  That game didn’t go as well as the Coyotes came from behind to pull out a 41-21 win and become the first team since the 2013 season to take down the Scottsdale power.

Centennial was coming off a one-point loss to one of California’s top teams, Long Beach Poly, and were hungry for a win to even their record at 1-1.  Saguaro stunned them early by going up two touchdowns, but the Coyotes tied the score and went into halftime tied 21-21.  Their aggressive defense clamped down after intermission, holding the Sabercats scoreless through the second half while running up another 20 points.

And this Friday Saguaro will host Pinnacle High, another D-I school, in its first home game of the season.

Saguaro will be favored in this one, and the home-field advantage will help seal the win.

Pinnacle lost its opener to the reigning D-I state champion, Chandler High School, but the Pioneers have had a bye week to recuperate and prepare for the Sabercats.

That extra time also gives Pinnacle’s freshman quarterback, Spencer Rattler, another week of practice as he tries to fill the shoes of Brian Lewerke, who has moved on to play at Michigan State.  Lewerke led the Pioneers to a 10-2 finish last season and a spot in the state quarterfinals.

Rattler’s debut against Chandler was less than impressive.  He completed 16 of 29 pass attempts for 133 yards and was corraled by the Wolve’s defense when he tried to run, carrying the ball five times for minus-1 yard rushing.

The rest of the Pioneer backfield had similar results.  Senior Nick Ferrara, who was expected to be the featured back this season, was held to a grand total of four yards on six carries.  Last season, he rushed for 993 yards and 10 touchdowns.  The other senior back, Dru Dixon, rushed four times for eight yards, so it turned out to be a sophomore, Hunter Griggs, that led the way with 32 yards on 10 carries.

Pinnacle ran up 350 all-purpose yards in the game, but 144 of those came on eight kick returns.

Another night like that come Friday and the Pioneers will be starting the season 0-2.  Saguaro will be playing with a nasty attitude after suffering their first loss since Aug. 30 of 2013 when they lost their season opener to the other Scottsdale power, Chaparral High School.

Saguaro finished the 2014 campaign undefeated, going 14-0 and claiming the Division III state championship. And there’s little reason to think it can’t navigate the rest of this season without another loss, eventually reaching another title game.

And, based on the firepower they’ve displayed so far, Pinnacle doesn’t really have what it takes to be able to stand in their way.  Saguaro’s next winning streak starts Friday.