As soon as coach Jason Mohns finished his television interview Friday night, he quickly dashed Scottsdale Saguaro’s end zone celebration, lighting into his team for a lack of discipline.
One of those was a Kelee Ringo 69-yard touchdown run that was called back because he waved at the defender about 10 yards before entering the end zone.
Saguaro ended up setting for a field goal.
But Ringo ruled the rest of the game, scoring two more touchdowns and intercepting a pass, leading Saguaro past host Scottsdale Chaparral 38-24 before an overflow crowd Friday night.
“It hurt me, not seeing the points put on the board,” said Ringo, maybe the nation’s best cornerback. “Coming out in the second half and how hard we played made up for it.”
But it didn’t satisfy Mohns, who felt his team’s lack of discipline was a reflection on him as a coach.
“We did everything we could to lose that game tonight,” Mohns told his team in the end zone. “We’ve got to figure out what kind of team we want to be. We’ve got to be so much smarter and so much better.”
Saguaro (4-1) is at the midway point, and will find out this coming week where it sits in the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s initial Open Division computer rankings. The top eight teams among 6A, 5A and 4A compete for the state’s first ultimate state high school football championship.
For at least the first half, Saguaro looked like a team that wanted no part of the Open and would be satisfied with chasing another 4A crown.
The Sabercats were hit with three roughing-the-passer penalties and a face-mask penalty that led to a Chaparral touchdown and ended up being a brilliant call by coach Brent Barnes.
On fourth-and-5 from the 6 with less than six minutes left in the half, Barnes sent out the kicking tee for Tommy Christakos. Then, he asked an official how many timeouts he had. After being told two, he called time out.
Chaparral came out with Christakos floating back out from his receiver position, taking a pitch from quarterback Brayten Silbor and hitting Wes Mason for a 6-yard touchdown.
That gave Chaparral a 17-7 cushion.
Even with seven starters out and the Firebirds relying on a sophomore at quarterback, Christakos, less than completely healthy, showed what an impact he has on the Chaparral offense.
He accounted for all of his team’s 17 first-half points. He kicked a 37-yard field goal, caught a 37-yard scoring pass and threw the TD pass. He also made the extra points.
But Christakos, playing in his first game this season, wasn’t able to go for much of the second half, still not completely back from the hip flexor injury.
Chaparral’s offense bogged down for most of the second half with a couple of turnovers — a fumble by Jared Williams and an interception by Silbor.
Silbor showed he was more than ready for the spotlight, completing 22 of 42 for 284 yards and a TD. He would have had another TD pass, but Williams couldn’t hang onto a pass down the sideline, where he had nothing but space ahead of him on Chaparral’s opening drive.
Four dropped passed in the second half killed drives.
Saguaro seized it by turning Ringo and quarterback Tyler Beverett loose.
Down 10-0, Mohns inserted both Ringo and Shaffer into the backfield. Woosh. Ringo ripped off a long run, followed by Beverett, then Shaffer. Touchdown.
Kelee Ringo Shoots out of a cannon and explodes right up the middle for his 2nd rushing TD of the game @KeleeRingo Saguaro grabs their first lead of the game 24–17 over Chap with 8:27 left in the game @AZHSFB @gridironarizona @saguarofootball pic.twitter.com/HA8S3fHdpd
— Cody Cameron (@CodyTCameron) September 21, 2019
“He brings the juice,” senior offensive tackle Jaylan Jeffers said about Ringo.
Ringo had his most carries this season, running 11 times for 148 yards and two TDs. Beverett passed for 133 yards and two TDs, one of those to Will Shaffer out of the backfield. But it was his legs that hurt Chaparral.
He ran 11 times for 111 yards and a score.
“We found a way to win, and good teams find a way to win,” Mohns said. “But we’ve got to stop beating ourselves. We already lost a game by beating ourselves (18-10) at San Diego Cathedral Catholic (the second game). I thought we had learned from it. But clearly we haven’t.”