Maybe the best way to measure Teddy Ruben’s value isn’t what he meant to Saguaro on the field, but what it would have been like without him.
The Sabercats suffered from a deluge of injuries early in the season, including a few to future Division I players, but while the team stumbled some, it never fell, mostly due to the senior quarterback.
Ruben was one of Saguaro’s smallest players, and also its most important. After every big hit or awkward fall, he would get back up, prepare for the next snap and lead the team down the field once again.
“He was the glue,” Saguaro coach John Sanders said. “Without him, I’m going directly to a freshman quarterback. I was like a guy watching a train wreck on TV. Every time he got hit I would just cringe.”
While other players around the East Valley were bigger, stronger or faster, it was Ruben who ended the year with the gaudiest numbers, a state championship and the Tribune’s Player of the Year award.
The stats are eye-popping: In 14 games, he was 136-of-191 passing for 2,369 yards with 22 touchdowns and five interceptions. On the ground, Ruben rushed 230 times for 2,513 yards and 34 scores.
The Sabercats trailed by two touchdowns to Canyon del Oro at halftime of the state championship game, but rallied behind Ruben for a 41-34 victory.
“We’re down 14, and he refused to cave,” Sanders said. “Teddy was more vocal that day than I’d seen in four years. He refused to let that game get away.”
The state championship victory sunk in at a weird moment for Ruben.
He and teammate Kyle Young were stuck outside in the cold earlier this month while waiting to be let into the school. They muttered their contempt for a minute, and then abruptly stopped.
“Kyle said, ‘It’s cold out here, but I don’t even care because we won a state title,’” Ruben said. “And that’s all that matters to us. It feels so good. It’s slowly but surely settling in.”
Ruben had moderate success as a junior, but excelled this season. He ran for 200 or more yards in six different games, and threw for 200 or more three times. He regularly accounted for the majority of the team’s touchdowns, including a season-high seven against Cactus Shadows on Oct. 15.
“It comes easy to Teddy on the field,” Sanders said.
The natural talent was there, but Ruben, listed at 5-foot-10 and 160 pounds this year, worked hard in the offseason to get bigger and stronger. He was quick enough to outrun most defenders last year, but immediately saw a difference in his ability to break tackles after adding strength.
“Getting in the gym definitely helped,” Ruben said, “just not getting pushed around as much. I wasn’t outweighed by 40 pounds. More like 10 or 15.”
Once Ruben got the playing field close to level, the opposition didn’t stand a chance.
“He was the real deal,” Sanders said.
All-Tribune First Team offense
Name School Year Pos. Comment
Teddy Ruben Saguaro Sr. QB 2,369 yards passing, 2,513 yards rushing, 56 total TD for 4A-I champions
Kelvin Fisher Higley Sr. RB Two-way star single-handedly carried Higley into playoffs
Anthony Lopez Mesquite Jr. RB Carried Mesquite’s offense with 1,552 yards (8.7 per rush) and 21 TD; good punt returner
Chim Nga Queen Creek Sr. RB First-year RB quickly became focal point of Queen Creek’s surge to 4A-I semifinals
Tanner Clay Hamilton Sr. WR 51 receptions and 11 TD to go with school-record 1,248 yards
John Leonard Cactus Shadows Sr. WR Arizona HS-record 112 receptions went for 1,390 yards and 17 TD
Christian Westerman Hamilton Sr. OL Top-rated AZ prospect dominant despite late-season knee injury
Andre Yruretagoyena Chaparral Sr. OL Oregon-commit dominated in postseason; maybe best in state this season
Cyrus Hobbi Saguaro Sr. OL Two-way stud in front of Ruben and D.J. Foster has D-I schools lining up
Tyler Johnstone Hamilton Sr. OL Tackle opposite Westerman headed to Oregon
Zack Hemmila Chandler Jr. OL AZFCA All-State pick at 6-2, 280 pounds
Davonte Neal Chaparral Jr. RS Top-notch WR and DB; 19.7 PR avg. and 4 of his 29 total TD were returns
Marshall Dirksen McClintock Sr. K 13 of 16 field goals (81 percent) included 49-yarder
All-Tribune First Team defense
Name School Year Pos. Comment
Mo Latu Perry Sr. DL Two-way standout with 50 tackles, 3 sacks and team-high 3 INT
Shaq Jenkins Hamilton Sr. DL Filled Tevin Hood’s shoes nicely with 78 tackles and 18.5 sacks at DT
Charley Beck Brophy Sr. DL 93 tackles, 14 sacks from 5-foot-10, 185-pound DE
Tyler Rutt Hamilton Sr. LB Fiesta Region MVP on defense with 140 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 INT
Sam Papa Desert Ridge Sr. LB E.V. Region player of year was heart and soul of Jaguars defense
Izzy Marshall Mountain Pointe Sr. LB ASU-commit was cornerstone of solid ‘D’ with 67 tackles, 2 INT and 2 sacks
Zach Williams Basha Sr. LB Two-time first-team all-region with 123 tackles, 3 INT, 3 fumble recoveries and 2 FF
D.J. Foster Saguaro Jr. DB Dual-threat stud had 60 tackles and seven INT; More than 2,000 yards on offense
Cedric Parker Hamilton Sr. DB All-State CB formed suffocating secondary with Malcolm Holland, Reggie Daniels
Colby Targun Chaparral Sr. DB Dynamic duo in secondary with Neal had 53 tackles and 6 INT
Jordan Becerra Desert Ridge Jr. DB All-State pick at DB also offensive star (E.V. Region player of year) for 5A-I runner-up
Devin Foy Mesquite Sr. P 45.8 yards per punt (long of 66 yards) and pinned six inside 10-yard line
Player of the Year: Teddy Ruben, Saguaro
Coach of the Year: Jeremy Hathcock, Desert Ridge: Spurred by injury to starting QB Parker Rasmussen, Hathcock reconstructed the Jaguars’ offense midway through the season to become a dominant rushing team. Earned school’s first trip to state championship game and pushed Hamilton to the game’s final minute.
All-Tribune Second Team offense
Name School Year Pos. Comment
Brett Hundley Chandler Sr. QB Passed for 2,348 yards, 20 TD, 2 INT and rushed for 856 yards without healthy RB
Alex Howard Williams Field Jr. RB 1,407 yards rushing and 26 TD (11.1 yards per carry) for 4A-II runner-up
Anthony Shivers Marcos de Niza Sr. RB 1,044 yards (11.2 ypc) and 18 TD was dearly missed in playoffs (knee injury)
Joey Counts Desert Ridge Jr. RB Avg. 141 yards per game in six games after Rasmussen injury; had 19 TD on season
Michael Ingrassia Desert Vista Sr. WR Heart and soul of 5A-I semifinal squad on field and in locker room
Devon Allen Brophy So. WR Set school records with 60 receptions and 915 yards despite QB issues
Tyler Bode Fountain Hills Sr. OL 3A All-State tackle at 6-8, 330 pounds has D-I scholarships coming
Nic Cosenza Hamilton Sr. OL Two-time first-team All-Fiesta Region center
Viliami Koloamatangi Red Mtn. Jr. OL Big-time blue-chip prospect was big, mean and athletic at 270 pounds
Drew Mahooty Basha Jr. OL One of best O-lineman coach Bernie Busken has seen
Jordan Poland Williams Field So. OL 6-foot-8, 335-pounder the catalyst behind Howard’s gaudy rushing totals
Chris Carl Mountain Pointe Sr. OL Team captain was All-State selection and two-time All-Region tackle
Malcolm Holland Hamilton Sr. RS Avg. 18.1 per punt return and 31.25 on kickoffs; 3 return TD
Danny Berzins Desert Ridge Sr. K 13 of 17 field goals and led state with 96 points
All-Tribune Second Team defense
Name School Year Pos. Comment
Todd Peat Corona Sr. DL 63 tackles, 2 forced fumbles at DT has D-I schools in pursuit
Christian Mancha Marcos de Niza Sr. DL 52 tackles, 9.5 sacks earned All-State selection
Peter Igras Notre Dame Sr. DL 113 tackles, 11.5 sacks for 4A-II runner up
Colbe Smelser Williams Field Sr. LB 122 tackles, three sacks, 2 INT, 2 forced fumbles
R.J. Rickert Mesquite Sr. LB Central Region POY also excelled at tight end and special teams
Adam Pavlenko Marcos de Niza Jr. LB All-State player in 5A-II with 133 tackles
Josh Bamrick Mesquite Jr. LB Led E.V. with 148 tackles
Brian Poupore Notre Dame Sr. DB 57 tackles, 8 INT at safety for top 4A-II defense
Jacob Tune Red Mountain Sr. DB Two-time first-team all-Fiesta DB a hard hitter with range
D.J. Geroux Mountain View Sr. DB Defensive MVP in Central Region despite missing 3 weeks (concussion)
JeRyan Butler Marcos de Niza Sr. DB All-State; 2nd team All-Region with 38 tackles, 5 INT, 10 PD
Tanner Morgan Apache Junction Sr. P Avg. 40.6 yards per punt and knocked 10 inside opp. red zone
Apache Junction: David Fernando, Sr., WR/DB; John Lachapelle, Jr., OL/DL; Tyler Bivins, Sr., LB; Arcadia: Kyle York, Jr., DB; Dalton Kaye, Sr., OL; Basha: Dhane Cumberledge, Sr., DL; Kyle Duran, Sr., QB; Joey Hutchinson, Sr., LB; Nate Phillips, So., WR/DB; Devin Reed, Jr., WR/DB; Evan Sarver, Jr., OL/DL; Myles Smith, So,, RB/LB; Dejzon Walker, Sr., TE/DB; Brophy: Matt Auran, So., P; Matthew Cahal, So., WR/DB; Josh Dennard, Sr., RB/DB; Robert Relf, So., LB; Cactus Shadows: Saul Monteon, Jr., OL; Alex Yazdi, Sr., DL; Campo Verde: Alex Buppert, Jr., LB; Brandon Flores, Jr., RB/DB; Mike Morales, Jr., K; Nathan Ozumerzifon, Jr., P.; Chandler: Rufus Green, Sr., LB; Lloyd Mills, Jr., WR; Corey Niass, Sr., OL; Michael Okonkwo, Sr., WR; Paul Perkins, Sr., Jr., RB/DB; Chaparral: Sean Buizer, Sr., K; Colton Bishop, Sr., DB; Connor Brewer, Jr., QB; Hunter Gregg, Sr., LB; Jordie Hein, Sr., WR; Alex Holmes, Sr., WR; Justin Jackson, Sr., DL; Sean Kamela, Sr., DL; Lucas Petrullo, Jr., RB; Nick Plimpton, Sr., OL; Wes Schweitzer, Sr., OL; RB; Carter Wood, Sr., OL; Combs: Michael Marquez, Jr., TE/DL; Aaron Sage, Jr., P; Coronado: Alex Buya, QB, Sr.; Desert Mountain: Daaim Brown, Jr., DB; Matt Foley, Sr., P; Cody Zimmerman, Sr., WR/DB; Desert Ridge: Alex Barrett, Jr., OL/DL; Nate Burch, Sr., OL/DL; Keaton Centiempo, Sr., P; Ryan Hathcock, Sr., LB; Desert Vista: Mike Arredondo, Sr. RB/LB; Sean Coffinger, Sr., TE; Jeff Dielman, Jr., OL/DL; Ryan Masel, Jr., OL/DL; Riley Pendergast, Sr., OL/DL; Spencer Schumacher, Jr., OL/DL; Matt Smith, Jr., WR/DB; Dobson: Isaac Hayes, Sr., WR/DB; Fountain Hills: Ty Blunt, Jr., K; Nick Krause, Sr., OL/LB; J.R. Nelson, Sr., DB; Gilbert: Dalten Lane, Jr., OL/LB; Joe Shultz, Jr., TE/DL; Drew Stankiewicz, Sr., WR; Hamilton: John Archuleta, Sr., OL; Tucker Dunn, Sr., LB; Jai Johnson, Sr., RB; Tyler Lippert, Sr., OL; Michael Markette, Sr., K; Tibyus Medley, Sr., DL; Kyren Poe, Sr., QB; Kendyl Taylor, Jr., RB; Highland: Carter Bailey, Sr., RB/DB; Dylan Draper, Sr. OL/LB; Jamison Ellis, Sr., WR/DB; Higley: Justin Bearby, Sr., LB; Horizon: Dushawn Brown, Jr., WR; Cody Crozier, Sr., OL; Cody Frazier, Sr., DB; Matt Jones, Sr., RB; Ryan Stanford, Sr., QB; Kyle Woods, Jr., DB; Marcos de Niza: Dillon Belsher, Sr., DB/WR; John Henry, Sr., OL/DL; Tommy Thornton, Jr,, QB; Martwon Weaver, Sr., WR/DB; McClintock: Andre Collier, Jr., DL; Semir Andelija, Jr., LB; Mesa: Marquis Pharrams, Sr., RB/DB; Mesquite: Zach Abdorrahimzadeh, Sr., OL/DL; Gabe Carrillo, Jr., OL/DL; Austin McCoy, Sr., WR/DB; Zach Wilkerson, Sr., OL/DL; Mountain Pointe: Raynon Blackshire, Jr., OL/DL; Jalen Brown, Fr., WR/DB; Garrett Holle, Sr., WR; T.J. Holtrop, Sr,. TE; J.R. Plote, Sr., OL/DL; Mountain View: Eric Conley, Sr., OL/DL; Jeremy Boatwright, Sr., QB; Jake Thomas, Jr., RB/LB; Notre Dame: Jordan Gehrke, Jr., QB; Jack York, Jr., OL; Ian Montague, Sr., OL; Grant Martinez, So., TE; Luke Taffuri, So., LB; Perry: Kyle Howard, Sr., DB; Cody Pigford, Sr., LB; Cedric Simmons, Sr., RB; Pinnacle: Brandon Burke, Sr., OL/DL; Luke Dubas, Sr., OL/DL; Cody Gibson, Sr., RB; Jackson Harley, Jr., QB; Addison Palomino, Jr., WR/LB; Neal Walters, Sr., TE/DL; Poston Butte: Chris Carlino, Jr., OL; Travis DeFrancisco, Jr., OL/DL; Xavier Forrester, Jr., TE; Tony Hatfield, Jr., RB; Jacob Jansen, Jr., OL; Aaron Juarez, Jr., OL/LB; Dean Martino, Jr., QB; Jesse Tanner, Jr., OL/DL; Chris Valdez, Jr., RB/DB; Queen Creek: Jeff Black, Sr., WR; Billy Gregoire, Sr., DL; Cameron Sneddon, Sr., OL; Connor Walther, Sr., LB; Tyler Fullerton, Sr., DB; Red Mountain: Billy Freeman, Jr., TE; Kyle Guanell, Sr., WR/DB; Saguaro: Jon Lindemann, Sr., WR/DB; Dallas Noriega, Sr., OL; Wesley Butts, Sr., LB; San Tan Foothills: Max Kadzashie, Sr., K; Scottsdale Christian: K.J. Gould, Sr., OL/DL; Josh O’Neill, Sr., TE/LB; Luke Siwek, Sr., RB/DL; Chauncey Wright, Sr., RB/DB; Seton Catholic: Andrew Gillespie, Sr,, WR; Kevin McDonald, Sr., OL/DL; Skyline: Cooper Sinsabaugh, Jr., OL; Brandon Whitney, Sr., DB/K; St. Mary’s: Mike Jajou, Sr., DL/OL; Beau Kitson, Jr., OL/DL; Orange Mooney, Jr., RB/DB; Gilbert Reiger, So., RB/LB; LaRon Tarkington, Jr., RB/DB; Tempe Prep: Brandon Milek, Jr., RB/DB; Nate Hiser, Jr., TE/DB; Kyle Whalen, Sr., OL/LB; Max Wiese, Sr., QB/DB; Valley Christian: Drew Bond, Sr., TE/DB; Sean Higgins, Sr., OL/DL; Connor Pierce, OL/DL; Colton Udall, Sr., OL/DL; Westwood: Valencio Gray, Sr., RB/DB; Billy Sueing, Sr., WR/DB; Williams Field: Tom Ross, QB, Sr.; J.D. Layton, WR, Sr.; Jamison Gardner, Sr., DB; Lincoln Conway, Sr., DL; Kenny Davidson, Sr., DL; Kenny Mitchell, Sr., KR.
Memorable Moments from the 2010 season
Three-headed dynasties: Hamilton has been considered one of the state’s dominant programs since its inception, and the Huskies did nothing but enhance that status after becoming the only school to win three consecutive state championships in 5A Division I. But some northern neighbors are giving chase. Chaparral won a second consecutive 5A-II championship after an undefeated season. There’s a chance Chaparral and Hamilton could schedule one another next season, but the Firebirds elected to stay in Division II in the new divisional alignment instead of petition up to Division I, so the debate over who’s the best team in the state will rage on. Once a fierce rival to Chaparral, Saguaro entered the dynasty mix in Class 4A after the Sabercats won their fourth championship in five years by beating one of their new rival opponents in Tucson Canyon del Oro
Rolling the dice: The trend began in Week 1, when Apache Junction rolled the dice and lost while attempting a game-winning 2-point conversion against Bradshaw Mountain. After that, game-winning conversion attempts and fourth-down conversion attempts turned trendy (Mesquite vs. Desert Ridge, Mesquite vs. Basha, Highland vs. Desert Ridge, Brophy vs. St. Mary’s), but a couple gutsy calls wound up disastrous for Desert Ridge and Notre Dame. Notre Dame went for the game-winning 2-point conversion rather than force overtime against Williams Field in the 4A-II semifinals, but Jordan Gehrke was tackled at the 1-yard line and the Black Hawks advanced to the championship game. Three weeks later, the Jaguars went for it on 4th-and-2 near midfield in the 5A-I championship game against Hamilton, but that turned into a Reggie Daniels interception for a touchdown for a two-score cushion the Huskies would eventually need.
Zane Zamenski: His hiring at Corona del Sol to replace Gary Venturo brought immediate grumbles, and those turned into full-bore protests after two separate investigations by the school and the Tempe district revealed inappropriate comments made to players and other students on campus, and having kids practice with contact drills despite not being cleared by medical staff following concussions and other injuries. In between was a 1-10 season. The school hired former Mountain View coach Tom Joseph two weeks ago, as the push continues to turn the Aztecs back into a playoff team.
Powerful parity: Outside of Hamilton and Chaparral in 5A, there wasn’t a great disparity between the haves and have-nots this season. In the East Valley Region, Mountain Pointe, Desert Ridge, Marcos de Niza and Perry were in a four-way tie going into the final week of the regular season, where the Jaguars eventually emerged as region champions. Desert Ridge then knocked off Chandler, Gilbert and Desert Vista en route to the state championship game. Being a No. 10 seed didn’t fool most followers heading into the playoffs, and the Jaguars’ story mimicked many in these playoffs. Outside Hamilton (5A-I) and Chaparral (5A-II), the postseason played out as a free-for-all. Gilbert upset Basha, Mountain View nearly knocked off Desert Vista and undermanned Brophy was a kick away against Mountain Pointe from being in the semifinals.