It was not the same as engineering a second-half, double-digit comeback like Catalina Foothills senior sensation quarterback Rhett Rodriguez accomplished in the first two rounds of the Class 4A state playoffs.
But Rodriguez, son of Arizona Wildcats coach Rich Rodriguez, took control of the semifinal game against Higley last night after Catalina Foothills fell behind 6-0 in the first quarter.
The younger Rodriguez, joining the Wildcats next season, went on to throw four touchdown passes and run for three more in the Falcons’ 62-37 victory.
Catalina Foothills, seeded No. 6 in the 4A bracket at 11-2 overall, faces top seeded and undefeated Scottsdale Saguaro (13-0) in the state championship game Saturday at 10 a.m. at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.
“The offense was really clicking,” Rodriguez told the Arizona Republic. “It’s easy when you got great teammates like this. I just know that I have to do my job, whether that’s running the ball, throwing the ball, making checks or making sure everyone knows what they’re doing. If I just do my job and everyone else does their job, things like this happen.”
With the kind of season and postseason performance Rhett is having it is causing people to wonder if he is the best quarterback Tucson has produced.
The numbers are hard to argue against: 30 touchdown passes with only three interceptions. His 311 passing yards last night gives him exactly 3,000 for the season. He has completed 140 of his 220 pass attempts, a percentage of 63.6. He also has rushed for 486 yards on 112 carries with 13 touchdowns.
In the three playoff victories over Cactus Shadows, Sunrise Mountain and Higley, Rodriguez has completed 44 of his 64 attempts (68.6 percent) for 908 yards with eight touchdowns and one interception. He has rushed for 203 yards on 42 carries wit six touchdowns.
Those numbers are fantastic but they do not begin to describe Rodriguez’s intangibles and what he brings to the Falcons in terms of his moxie and leadership skills. He rallied Catalina Foohills to victories over Cactus Shadows and Sunrise Mountain with fourth quarter comebacks after the Falcons fell behind by more than 10 points.
“His game management skills are unbelievable for a high school kid,” Catalina Foothills coach Jeff Scurran, advancing to his eighth state title game as a coach, told the Republic. “It’s the right pass at the right time that’s going to the correct guy with just enough to know where the sticks are. Every rep at practice, every rep in the weight room is done the same way. And this is where it pays off.”
If Rodriguez is not the best from Tucson, his name certainly belongs with legends Fred Enke Jr. of Tucson High School and Rodney Peete of Sahuaro for what he has brought to Catalina Foothills in the postseason. This is the farthest Catalina Foothills has gone in the playoffs in the history of the school, which was founded in 1992.
Other top quarterbacks from Tucson include Reggie Robertson of Sahuaro, Jim Krohn of Amphi and Bobby Valdez of Sunnyside. Cienega junior Jamarye Joiner, who has committed to Arizona’s program, appears to be the next elite quarterback to come out of Tucson.
“Right now I really can’t describe it, but I’ve got to give a shout out to my offensive line, defense, special teams … all around great job and I’m so excited,” Rodriguez said.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.