The “Drive for Five” became a reality for the Scottsdale Saguaro in its domination over Salpointe Catholic in Saturdays 4A state championship game at Arizona Stadium.
The approach was simple: good quarterback play and a defense to match. The Sabercats had both, displaying a methodical attack against the Lancers en route to a 28-7 win.
Saguaro quarterback Max Massingale showed the poise of a senior despite a slow start which saw the Sabercats stall on their first two drives. After that, it wasn’t close. A 35-yard touchdown pass to receiver Logan Pettijohn followed by a one-yard run into the end zone pushed Saguaro into a 14-0 lead at the half. He was in total control as a result of his preparation coming into the game.
“It was the first time all year that a team actually lined up the way they had all season,” Massingale said. “They didn’t do anything that surprised us and we just played a solid game like we always do.”
Massingale would account for all four Sabercat touchdowns, throwing for 231 yards on 18 passes and two scores, while rushing for a team high 59 yards and two scores on 16 carries.
Taking advantage of man-to-man matchups and height, the Sabercats went to the air to set up scores time and time again. Two receivers that benefitted from the Lancers missteps were Logan Pettijohn and Zach Wilson. The duo combined for 11 receptions and 207 yards on the day including two scores, both by Pettijohn.
“It just got easier as the game went on and I could feel it,” Pettijohn said. “My height wasn’t as much a factor as just taking advantage of what they gave us. I felt like I had a mismatch just because of the preparation we had coming into the game.”
On the other side of the ball was the defense. It was as close to a dominant bend-but-don’t-break approach as one could get. The Sabercats gave up 164 yards rushing to one of the state’s best running backs in Salpointe’s Bijan Robinson.
However, they didn’t allow a single offensive score all day, creating two turnovers that would thwart Lancers drives in the process. Those interceptions led to scores for Saguaro, part of a championship pedigree if ever there was one.
“You know, a lot was made of their defense and rightfully so, but we felt like we had a pretty darn good defense too,” Saguaro head coach Jason Mohns said. “You know, all the talk was about their (Salpointe) offensive line but we have a pretty good defensive line and linebacking corps, and I think our kids took that personal.”
Whatever the motivation, Saguaro once again proved it is the best football program in the state with its fifth state championship in a row.