Wait, these guys again?
A strong senior class led the Seton Catholic football team to a 13-1 record and the Division IV state championship in the fall. Strong-armed quarterback Ryan Bresnahan captained a potent pass offense and prolific wide receiver Matt Haggerty hauled in of many of his throws.
The Sentinels upset Lakeside Blue Ridge in the finals to cap a storybook ending, one which they can tell their kids about someday.
Except this group isn’t quite done.
Bresnahan, Haggerty and several other Seton football standouts have moved over to the baseball diamond, where they recently completed a regular season with a 21-6 overall record and an 18-0 mark in power point games.
The Sentinels are the No. 1 overall seed in the Division II state tournament, leading to the very real possibility of two state championships in a five-month span.
“Winning a football championship by itself was amazing,” said Daniel Garlid, a wide receiver in football and a shortstop in baseball. “To have the opportunity to play for a baseball championship too? It’s unreal.”
Seton Catholic will start its journey on Tuesday against either No. 16 Raymond Kellis or No. 17 Canyon del Oro. If the Sentinels win that game, they will advance to the double-elimination portion of the tournament featuring the final eight teams in Division II.
Expectations within the group are high, but they’ve been like this for years.
The Sentinels excelled in both football and baseball from the start, and it quickly became apparent this collection of athletes could do some damage.
“When the freshmen were as big as the upperclassmen, you kind of knew we’d be a special class,” Bresnahan said.
In bigger schools, some of these two-sport athletes would have gone exclusively with baseball, and others would have picked football. While a guy like Haggerty could have done both, it’s rare to see a large contingent play two sports.
But at a school with a limited population like Seton, there is plenty of opportunity available, and it helped draw in players like Garlid.
“I was thinking of (attending) Marcos or Corona,” Garlid said. “My parents and I discussed the option of going here, and the more we talked about it, the better it sounded. If I went to a big school, I probably would have just played baseball. Maybe golf. Coming here, it allowed me to try football.”
Bresnahan and Matt Hart both started on the varsity baseball team as freshmen, and Haggerty, Garlid and M.J. Villegas joined them as sophomores. Soon after, the group made the goal of winning a baseball title before they left high school.
The Sentinels finished last season 17-11 and lost in the first round of the playoffs, 1-0, to Yuma Gila Ridge.
This season, they played against Division I powers like Desert Mountain, Desert Ridge, Basha and Corona del Sol in early-season tournaments and started just 4-6.
Since then, the team has reeled off 17 consecutive victories, including wins over Goodyear Millennium, Saguaro, Williams Field (twice) and Queen Creek.
“Every week, we just wanted to get to that next number,” Haggerty said. “Five wins, OK, let’s get to six. Seven. Eight. Nine. It kept going. We didn’t want to lose.”
Coach Marty Maier always tries to schedule tough competition early so his team has a barometer of what it takes to succeed.
“I don’t like the team to be wondering all year where they fit in,” he said. “You don’t know if you’ve already faced (a tough opponent). When you go play those guys, you see what it takes. If you can compete with those guys, you’ll be able to compete on the Division II level.”
Seton Catholic hasn’t faced many of the other top Division II teams, and the one it did — Notre Dame — beat it 15-5 on March 11. That’s enough to fuel some doubt among outsiders.
Coincidentally, the football team was an underdog in the title game and routed Blue Ridge, 28-7. Baseball is a completely different sport, of course, one which can succumb to chance much more easily.
But this group believes a second championship is within its grasp.
“It’s ridiculous even thinking about it,” Bresnahan said. “Knowing you just won one is awesome. And thinking about two? It’s just an unbelievable feeling. We have the right guys and the right tools to win one. We’ll see what happens.”