Game: Class 2A state championship
Participants: No. 3 Eloy Santa Cruz Valley Dust Devils (8-1) vs. No. 1 Benson Bobcats (9-0).
Site: Scottsdale Coronado High School.
Time: 1 p.m.
Series: Santa Cruz leads 3-1 (last meeting 49-0 win for the Dust Devils in 2017).
Coaches: Santa Cruz — Rishard Davis (57-21 in seventh season). Benson — Chris Determan (134-81-1 in 20 seasons overall, 18th at Benson).
Plenty of history with @scvuhs & @BensonBobcat football programs going into 2A state title game. Dust Devils w/5 NFL alums including famed Malone & Cade brothers & Benson w/former UA & Dallas Cowboys punter Mitch Hoopes, who played in Super Bowl. Story: https://t.co/jZdLpWPMaD
— Javier Morales (@JavierJMorales) December 11, 2020
Some information in the following provided by AZPreps365:
— Dust Devils have won seven state titles. They are searching for their first championship since 1990.
— Davis has coached Santa Cruz to the quarterfinals four times and now the finals twice. Santa Cruz lost to Thatcher in the 2017 championship.
— An experienced offensive line is blocking for one of the best players in the state, any classification, this year — RB Hunter Ogle, who is the state’s leading rusher. He is at 1,852 yards rushing in a shortened season and is averaging 205 rushing yards per game. As a team, Santa Cruz is averaging close to 400 rushing yards per game.
— WR Steve Calvin Jr. had a 67-yard TD punt return and a 47-yard TD run in the semifinal win over St. Johns. He rushed for a season-high 78 yards.
— Santa Cruz also leads the state with 19 interceptions. FS/QB Wyatt Ogle, Hunter’s younger brother, leads the team with six interceptions. The Ogles are state wrestling champions.
— The team’s lowest rushing total in a game this year was 262. It came during a 35-14 loss to a 4A team, Casa Grande, which was seeded No. 1 at the classification in the state playoffs.
— The team’s leading receiver, TE Dylan Hukill (221 yards, 24.6 yards per catch), missed last year with an injury.
— Every starter on the offensive and defensive line returned this year.
— No other small school (1A through 3A) in the state has produced as many NFL players (five) as Santa Cruz and four of them were drafted in the first two rounds:
- RB Art Malone (1962-65 at Santa Cruz) was drafted in the second round in 1970 by the Atlanta Falcons.
- RB Benny Malone (1966-69) was selected in the second round in 1974 by the Miami Dolphins.
- DB Mossy Cade (1976-79) was selected in the first round in 1984 by the San Diego Chargers.
- DB Eddie Cade (1987-90) was signed as a non-drafted free agent by the New England Patriots in 1995.
- OT Levi Jones (1993-96) was drafted in the first round in 2002 by the Cincinnati Bengals.
— The Malone brothers, Eddie Cade and Jones played at ASU. Mossy Cade’s brother Mike Cade, who also graduated from Santa Cruz, is legendary at ASU. Mossy Cade went to Texas. Benny Malone passed away at 67 in March at Tempe.
— In its first game since Nov. 20, Benson defeated Arizona Lutheran Academy 34-27 in the semifinals last week. The quarterfinal game against Morenci was canceled because of positive COVID-19 cases at Morenci.
— In Determen’s 18 seasons, this is his 13th time in the playoffs and his second in the title game. The Bobcats lost in the 2015 championship against Joy Christian. Benson has reached three title games but is still searching for its first title win. The program started in 1969.
— Prior to last week, its defense had allowed only 36 points.
— Running backs Devin Bowling, Jace Barney and Tristan Martinez are three of the team’s 15 junior leaders who have played on the same teams since they were kids. Bowling rushed for 876 yards and averaged 109.5 yards per game in the regular season.
— The only other teams that have rushed for more yards in 2A than Benson are Arizona Lutheran and the state’s rushing leader, Santa Cruz.
— This is the first time in Determan’s career that he didn’t start a senior. His son, Brok, is the team’s starting quarterback. Brok completed only three passes in last week’s win but two of those throws went for touchdowns.
— Barney (5-8, 210) rushed 21 times for 98 yards and one touchdown in the semifinals.
— Four starting offensive linemen returned this year. The team rushed for a season-low 177 yards last week.
— LB Cameron McFarlan had a season high 10 tackles last week, including six solo.
— DB Jimmy Lerblance had two interceptions last week to give him a team-high six.
— The Bobcats have one player who went on to the play in the NFL — former Arizona punter Mitch Hoopes, who on the Super Bowl’s 50th Anniversary in 2015 received a Golden Football that was presented at Benson before a game. Hoopes, who played with the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl X against the Pittsburgh Steelers, passed away at age 67 in August at Vista, Calif.
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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.