Prep football: #4 Higley gets its shot at #1 Saguaro tonight

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                </div>  The Sabercats have begun the task of dismantling their new football conference. Saguaro High School, which has won eight state football championships in the last 10 years, was in […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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The Sabercats have begun the task of dismantling their new football conference.

Saguaro High School, which has won eight state football championships in the last 10 years, was in Division II last season, but moved down to 4A in the new classification system installed this year by the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

The move to 4A was based on Saguaro’s enrollment numbers, but it puts a nationally-ranked team in the state’s third-highest division.  The Scottsdale school came into the season ranked No. 25 nationally by MaxPreps and has climbed to No. 15 after a 3-0 start.

After winning the last three state titles, it looks like it’s going to be a challenge to keep them from a fourth straight.

They are the No. 1-ranked team in 4A, and for good reason.  Saguaro ‘warmed up’ for its in-state schedule by beating a very good California team, Gardena’s Serra High, in the opener.  The Sabercats rallied from a 20-14 halftime deficit to take command in the second half and rolled to a 35-20 victory in front of a large home crowd.

Then they traveled to Colorado to take on Valor Christian, a nationally-prominent team that has won six of the last seven big-school state titles.  They returned with a 49-28 win.

In a game televised nationally as part of the GEICO ESPN High School Kickoff, Saguaro’s junior quarterback, Max Massingale, connected on 10 of his 11 pass attempts for 159 yards, and then added another 178 yards rushing. He divided his four touchdowns equally between passing and running.

Saguaro carried the momentum of those first two wins into its opening game against its in-state opponents.  Last week it rolled over Tucson’s Catalina Foothills High School, then the No. 3-ranked team in the 4A conference standings, in a 35-0 rout that was over at the half.

Tonight it will be Gilbert’s Higley High that will take its turn at trying to derail the Saguaro Express.  The Knights (2-0) are ranked No. 4 and are coming off a 50-28 victory over Phoenix’ St. Mary’s High School.

St. Mary’s was more competitive than the score indicates, just one point behind at 23-21 early in the third quarter. But Higley outscored St. Mary’s 29-14 in the second half, capping off the win with a 20-point outburst in the final quarter.

Offensively, it was a duel between senior quarterbacks, with Higley’s Mason Crossland throwing for 244 yards to edge out St. Mary’s Paul Dozeman, who finished with 227 yards on 11-for-25 completions and one touchdown. Crossland accounted for five TDs.

Crossland had some help.  Higley’s junior running back Draycen Hall rushed for 149 yards on 27 carries and 6’2″ senior wide receiver Cooper Jones added another 111 yards in receptions.

Tonight’s game will be played at Higley.  But the Knights will likely need more than home-field advantage to derail the nationally-ranked Sabercats.