4A State Championship
Cactus vs Moon Valley @ ASU
So here we go, after months of lifting, spring ball, passing league, scrimmages and region games it all comes down to this. Every team started out with a goal; but only two teams are left standing, these teams have overcome adversity, criticism and a few road bumps but no matter what anyone says, the winner of this game is the state champ.
Keys to the game:
When Cactus is
on Defense: Cactus has a
long standing tradition of a high flying score a ton of points offense. Breaking down their film on Saturday's
is not a fun experience, having done it once before. With that being said, their defense has
been just as important this season as their offense. Giving up an average of 16 points a
game, the Cobra defense has forced teams to give the ball up to their offense
with good field position. As any
coach will tell you it's a whole heck of a lot easier to drive 50 yards than it
is 80. Linebacker LaDarius Howard, might be the most
underrated linebacker in the
When Cactus is on Offense:
Hey this is Cactus were talking
about here folks. Offense is the
name of the game and Cactus is always at the top of the class. Averging more than 26 points a game,
Cactus's offense did enough to win all but one game this season. Quarterback Jonathon Tobin has really grown over
the last several weeks, while his stats haven't always been Cactus like, bottom
line is his team is playing for a state championship. A quarterback isn't judged or remembered
by stats instead their remembered for being a leader and leading his team
regardless of the stats he has accomplished. There are only two quarterbacks still
playing in 4A Tobin is one of them.
On the ground the Cobras feature junior Richard Morris, all 6'0 and 230 pounds
of him. Catching passes from Tobin
all season are Manny Solarez, Jordan Flores and Richard Moreno. Cactus spreads the ball around but all
three of these players are quality high school receivers. Cactus has to have long drives,
Valley is on Defense: Going into the season the knock on the
Rockets was that they were soft and didn't have the defense to play with the big
boys. Well they have proved all the
critics wrong by playing aggressive defense all year long. Led by linebacker Matt Hain this unit features a ton of
speed. This team also features
someone who might be the most underrated player at his respective position in
defensive tackles Sam Chung and Sammy Salamasina, both of these boys
can flat out play ball. Because of
their abilities, they face constant double teams which allows speedster Isaiah Smart to come off the edge and
get to the quarterback. Their play
also allows their linebackers to run all over the place without being hit by the
center or guards. In the secondary,
Chris McGaha and Darrell Sumpter form a great tandem at
the safety spot.
Valley is on Offense: What can you say about the Rockets offensively,
they have been ringing up opposing defenses like a toll booth this season. They just have so many weapons and so
much speed at each position it creates mismatches all over the place. Brian Wriston has thrown himself into
the states record books with a fantastic senior season, his main target Chris McGaha is a home run threat
waiting to happen. Take that away
and Tsar Johnson will eat you up,
play with your safeties deep and
Jeff Jones will go off. Plus we haven't even mentioned Matt Hain. Using multiple formations and motion to
create mismatches, hold on to your seats because you never know when someone
will take it 80 yards to the house.
Teams: This actually might
be the key to the game. Cactus has
a very strong kicking game led by Ezra Ricks conversly,
Tale of the Tape
Comments from Opposing Coaches
"Cactus is a very well-coached team. Their offense has imported a great deal through out the year. They are always tough on defense. Tough to beat on the deep pass."
Saguaro Head Coach Mike Reardon
"My thoughts of Cactus is that they are very
well coached and
disciplined. They gave us problems with their quickness and size. I
felt that they were the fastest team we faced all year. For the most
part, we had more team speed than most of the teams we played, but
Cactus matched our speed and outsized us a bit as well.
I was very impressed with how well coached these guys were. My hope is
that we can get our young program to reach the success of Cactus."
Cienega Head Coach Nemer Hassey
"Everyone knows the talent of McGaha, Wriston, Hain and Johnson. What really compliments this high powered offense is the smothering defense and team speed of guys like Sammy Salamasina, Jeff Jones, and Isaiah Smart. Add in Hain and McGaha on defense and they will shut anyone down. An extremely talented and athletic team that is well-coached."
Greenway Head Coach Mike Brown
"It should be a great game. Super athletes on both sides."
Centennial Head Coach Richard Taylor
"I have been really impressed with the job
Larry has done at Cactus this year. There have been many occasions when his team
could have dropped off competitively but I believe they knew some of the teams
they played close early were not as bad as all the experts believed. I know when
our school played them to within 7 they were beat up by the
internet experts. But our kids played well that night. I hope Cactus is as improved on the defensive side as it appears. If they do not make big mistakes this should be a better game than people believe it will be. I'm looking forward to it."
Buckeye Head Coach Bobby Barnes
"Cactus is a very disciplined and physical
football team. They are solid
both sides of the ball and they have excellent special teams play. In my
opinion, it is their emphasis on great special teams that has lifted them
over most of their opponents. Their players know if the game is close, they
will come out on top. It shows in the way they play. That is a credit to
their coaching staff and the tradition of the Cactus program. If it is a
close game, you have to give the edge to Cactus."
Pinnacle Head Coach Dana Zupke