Sabino, CDO, Mica, Salpointe advance

Brett Fera Arizona Daily Star
21 Min Read

All four Tucson-area teams that entered this past weekend’s high school football playoff action are still alive, and Sabino will be the first of the quartet to take a shot at breaking the Tucson region’s state championship drought.

The Sabercats won their semifinal matchup Saturday against top seed Bullhead City Mohave in Mesa to advance to next week’s Class 3A title game in Phoenix.

It’s been eight years since a team from Tucson or surrounding areas won a state title, and Sabino’s 3A chance this year is first if only because of the way the schedule breaks out. The 3A tournament championship game just happens to be the same week Salpointe Catholic (6A), Canyon del Oro (4A) and Mica Mountain (4A) play in their semifinal matchups.

For the latter two on that list, the rematch so many in Southern Arizona has been waiting for is on, and the stakes are, of course, huge. Canyon del Oro, the Tucson region’s only unbeaten team this season and the 4A bracket’s second seed, will once again play host to Mica Mountain — the third-seeded Thunderbolts’ only loss in 2023 coming barely a month ago at CDO. The showdown comes Friday night in the 4A state semifinals on CDO’s campus, with the winner moving on to the title tilt.

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As for Salpointe, the second seed in the 6A bracket, the Lancers defeated No. 7 Gilbert Williams Field 35-25 at home to push through to its own upcoming semifinal game.

A breakdown of how all four teams made it through this weekend and what’s to come:

Sabino quarterback Cameron Hackworth (1) breaks up the middle on a scrambling run out of a collapsing pocket during the Sabercats’ second-round Class 3A playoff win over Round Valley on Nov. 9.

How Sabino did it: For the second time in four weeks, the Sabercats knocked off No. 1 Mohave, this time turning an 8-8 tie score entering the fourth quarter into a 30-16 final in a 3A semifinal matchup in Mesa. Sabino pulled away after leading 8-0 at the half thanks to 22 fourth quarter points.

Quarterback Cameron Hackworth scored on the ground in that fourth quarter, while Mason Cade added a rushing touchdown from about 25 yards out with about five minutes left to give the Sabercats breathing room. Cade earlier scored Sabino’s second-quarter touchdown.

What’s next for Sabino: As noted, Sabino and Mohave were tied 8-8 through three quarters before a robust final period drew out the score. But in the opposite side of the bracket, defense was certainly not at a premium. Third seed Surprise Paradise Honors (11-2) and No. 2 Chandler Valley Christian combined to score 128 points, with Paradise Honors winning 72-56.

While the aforementioned 4A and 6A semifinals are Friday night in Tucson, Paradise Honors and Sabino will meet Saturday at Mountain Pointe High School in the Ahwatukee Foothills village part of Phoenix; Ahwatukee is just west of Interstate 10, adjacent to the western portion of Chandler and southern portion of Tempe. The 6 p.m. start time means anyone heading up to Tempe to watch the University of Arizona football team take on rival ASU at 1:30 p.m. could pull in the doubleheader on their way home; the Mountain Pointe High School campus is on the way back to Tucson, roughly 15-to-20 minutes south of ASU’s Mountain American Stadium.

How CDO did it: In the fourth overtime Friday night, CDO stopped 10th-seeded Chandler Arizona College Prep (8-4) to get the ball back with a shot at the win. CDO’s Kayden Luke eventually barreled in for the final touchdown in the back half of that fourth OT, giving the Dorados a 33-27 victory.

The game was 14-14 after regulation, with upset-minded ACP holding leads of 7-0 at halftime and 14-7 after three quarters. CDO’s second-half touchdowns to send the game in overtime came on a rushing score by Joe Alba from inside 10 yards midway through the third quarter and another on the ground from Chase Laux midway through the fourth.

Two-way standout and CDO rushing leader Kayden Luke was held off the scoreboard in regulation, but he’s finally hit paydirt in overtime. Kicker Reece Douglas was also instrumental for the Dorados in the extra frames.

Douglas hit field goals — matched by ACP’s Logan Woodruff-Hubler — in the first and third overtimes; Luke scored twice on the ground, the first time from roughly 6 yards out in the second overtime, and finally from about 2 away in the fourth overtime.

What’s next for CDO: The double-dream is alive after the quarterfinal thriller. The only way to win it all for the Dorados is to finish unbeaten — a perfect 14-0 on the year. The next test is the same as arguably their other toughest test of the season. CDO defeated Mica 17-15 on Oct. 13, with the Dorados stuffing a MM 2-point conversion attempt inside a minute to play that would have tied the game.

And, so, they’ll meet again, Friday at 7 p.m. — again on the CDO campus with that 4A title game appearance on the line.

On the opposite side of the bracket, No. 1 Yuma Catholic takes on No. 4 Phoenix Arcadia in the semifinal. While some reports this weekend have said that the 4A title match, set for Dec. 1, is now guaranteed to be in Tucson, barring a change from the Arizona Interscholastic Association, that’s not the case just yet. The AIA said earlier this season that the championship game will be in Tucson only if the higher seed was a Southern Arizona team. If not, the game will be in the Phoenix area. The time and location have not yet officially been released by the AIA.

If that all holds true, though, the winner of the matchup between CDO and Mica Mountain would be the higher seed only if Arcadia upsets Yuma Catholic. A Yuma Catholic win would put the final round in the Phoenix area.

How MM did it: Two-way star Kason Colbert returned to play on the defensive side after a concussion sidelined him more than a month ago to help lead Mica Mountain to a 38-17 win over sixth-seeded Phoenix Northwest Christian (9-3).

Playing in their last possible home game of the year, the Thunderbolts turned on the afterburners in the second half, scoring 21 unanswered to pull away. Second-half MM scoring plays included a long touchdown run by Conner Hangarner early in the third quarter, followed by a 16-yard pass from Jayden Thoreson to Jonah Garcia late in the same period.

In the fourth, Thoreson and Garcia connected again on what was roughly 60-yard touchdown strike. Thoreson connected with Garcia for scores three times on the night, while Hangarner finished with a pair of scores.

What’s next for MM: Did we mention this semifinal is a rematch? (Just checking.) It doesn’t just put two of Southern Arizona’s best teams — both with legitimate state title aspirations — on the field again against each other at the scene of that mid-October epic, but it also puts CDO coach Dustin Peace and MM coach Pat Nugent on opposite sidelines once again. Peace played for Nugent at Flowing Wells, then was an assistant under Nugent at CDO.

Salpointe Catholic (10-2)

How Salpointe did it: The Lancers led 14-0 midway through the second quarter over Williams Field (6-6) thanks to a pair of Mathew Avelar touchdown passes — the first in close range to Morgan Quiri late in the first quarter and the second from Avelar to Cade Paglinawan from more than 40 yards out.

Salpointe pushed it to 21-7 on a Jaxson Bahnie touchdown run in the third. The teams combined for 32 fourth-quarter points, but WF couldn’t chip enough off the Lancers’ lead. In that fourth quarter, Salpointe’s Jaylin Wills-Dennard and Richard Rivera both chipped touchdown runs to help secure the victory.

What’s next for SC: The Lancers are also on to their own state semifinal, this one at the 6A level. Like CDO, Salpointe gets one last home game in 2023 when they play host to multiple-state title-winning Scottsdale Saguaro (7-5), the third seed, Friday at 7 p.m. at Ed Doherty Stadium. The winner of that game will be in the 6A title match at ASU’s Mountain America Stadium (formerly Sun Devil Stadium) on Dec. 2 at noon.

The opposition that day will be either No. 12 Mesa Red Mountain — a 27-24 upset winner in overtime this week over No. 4 Phoenix Pinnacle — or No. 1 Phoenix Brophy Prep. Brophy was down 17-0 late in the third Friday night to eighth-seeded Queen Creek Casteel, but stormed back with 31 unanswered over the game’s final 14 minutes to keep its own run going.

VIDEO: Mica Mountain High School senior wide receiver Jonah Garcia scores on a 60-yard touchdown pass play from Jayden Thoreson late in the Thunderbolts’ 35-25 4A state playoff win over Phoenix Northwest Christian on Nov. 17, 2023. (James Kelley/Special to the Arizona Daily Star) MM sr WR Jonah Garcia 60 TD

Contact Star sports editor Brett Fera at [email protected]. On X(Twitter): @brettfera

Brett Fera Arizona Daily Star

2023-11-19 16:20:00 , – Vivrr Local Results in sports/arizonawildcats of type article

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