TUCSON – Luke Rubenzer took a knee, and so did Scottsdale Saguaro football coach Jason Mohns.
Rubenzer touched the artificial turf at the University of Arizona Stadium to signify the final play of Saguaro’s 47-25 victory over Queen Creek for the Division III championship on Friday (Nov. 29).
Mohns’ kneel came with extended arms and a ring as he proposed to fiancé Sara Cooper, his girlfriend of four years. She said yes.
It was an emotional day all the way around.
After a loss to neighborhood rival Scottsdale Chaparral to begin the season, the Sabercats ran the table with 13 straight wins to capture the school’s seventh state crown. Queen Creek, which was the defending state champion, finished 11-3. Two of its three losses were to Saguaro.
Rubenzer, a senior headed for the University of California, threw three scoring passes to give him a state season record of 61. He added to his state career record, and finished with 130.
For the day, he had 19 completions in 28 attempts for 246 yards. He also rushed for 72 yards and a TD on 19 carries.
Junior all-purpose player Christian Kirk played a major role with 156 yards on 18 carries and a pair of scores, and caught five passes for 101 yards and two scores.
“You hear all his stats, his numbers, but what really stands out is that he is such a fiery competitor,’’ Mohns said. “He just wants to win. I’ve never seen anybody with the inner drive that he has.’’
Rubenzer’s 61st TD pass was a thing of beauty. He sidestepped the Queen Creek Rush and found Cameron Koutsalas in the end zone for a 25-yarder.
Though the teams had a short week after semifinal victories on Monday night (Nov. 25), Rubenzer said Saguaro was ready.
“It was time to turn it on,’’ he said. “We wanted to get this one. This is great. These are my brothers.’’
The team also honored its friend, equipment manager Tug Garcia, who passed away during the season. Players and fans wore his favorite color, green, during the game, and the team embraced the urn that held his ashes afterward.
Rubenzer and Kirk collaborated for a 38-yard TD pass with 9:04 left in the first quarter. Kirk scored on a 6-yard run and the lead was 13-0 with 4:55 left in the first.
“He (Rubenzer) is the key to our offense,’’ Kirk said.
But Kirk did all right for himself.
“The coaches gave me the opportunities to touch the ball and I wanted to do whatever I could to help us win, ‘’ Kirk said.
And what does he do for an encore next year.
“We gotta come back and do this again,’’ he said.
Queen Creek got on the board late in the first quarter on an 8-yard run by star running back Weston Barlow. He finished with 174 yards on 21 carries and a pair of TDs. Matt Guida rushed for 46 yards and two TDs.
Each time that Queen Creek pulled closer, Saguaro would answer. That made it difficult for the Bulldogs to pull even, since they don’t throw the ball much. They completed 6 of 8 passes for 90 yards.
Mohns had told his father that he wanted to propose if Saguaro won the title.
He got the ring at the end of the game and surprised Cooper with the proposal.
“We have been dating four years and she is wonderful. She has been very patient with me being a coach,’’ Mohns said.