TEMPE — Scottsdale Horizon coach Andy Litten was in the middle of postgame interviews with reporters on the field at Sun Devil Stadium when the scream, “An-dy! An-dy! An-dy!” could be heard from a group of about 40 Salpointe fans gathered in the stands close to the rail.
“They are yelling for me?” an incredulous Litten said following Horizon’s 38-28 win over Salpointe to claim the 5A state title Friday night at Arizona State’s Sun Devil Stadium.
Litten recognized Toby and Vanessa Bourguet — parents of Salpointe quarterback Treyson Bourguet — at the forefront of the large gathering and he ran in their direction. After embracing Treyson near the rail, he jumped on a bench and hugged the Bourguets and others.
“It’s special … they’re a special, wonderful family,” Litten said. “My heart … as special as it is to win, I feel for them. I’m proud of Treyson. He’s a great player.
“It’s cool to see him from when he was a little kid and making people look silly to coming out here at ASU and lighting us up a couple of times. He scared me. He’s a competitor and I love him. I love that family. They’re great.”
Litten observed the Tucson Turf 7-on-7 youth football program Toby Bourguet operates in north Tucson while he was coaching at Marana from 2012-17. That’s when he met Treyson and his older brothers Trenton and Coben, both of whom played for him when he coached the Tigers
Litten, a Marana Mountain View graduate who walked on to Dick Tomey’s program at Arizona as a lineman in 2000, made Marana a relevant program especially in his last two years there with Trenton as his quarterback.
Marana won four games in four years and was on a 14-game losing streak before his arrival in 2012.
He coached the Tigers to back-to-back 9-3 seasons in 2016 and 2017. A postseason win over Kellis in 2016 was Marana’s first playoff win in 15 years.
— Jordan Spurgeon (@spurge_) December 11, 2021
The primary reason for Marana’s success was the potent offense Litten developed. Trenton progressed to the point of becoming a preferred walk-on at Arizona State. He has since played under scholarship the last two seasons and is the No. 2 quarterback behind Jayden Daniels.
As a junior in 2017 at Marana — Litten’s last season with the Tigers — Trenton completed 144 passes in 233 attempts (61.8 percent) for 2,984 yards with 38 touchdowns with 11 interceptions.
Trenton stood near Litten on the field waiting for him to finish the interviews. After Litten ran toward the Bourguets and Salpointe fans, Trenton walked that way and gave Litten a bear hug.
“What we did at Marana was super special,” Trenton said. “It’s kind of bittersweet that Treyson had to play Horizon tonight for the championship, but it was a great game. Salpointe didn’t give up. Horizon’s high-powered offense stayed on the field and scored a lot of points.
“We came out on the bottom. It was a tough game.”
Blessed to accomplish a goal …. 1 of many Arizona and @hzfbfamily has let me accomplish…. @litten_andy and @Coach_Wiz3 thank you for everything and accepting me in to your programs…I will be for ever grateful!!!! And in dept to you guys…….. pic.twitter.com/n9kAf13odL
— Daniel Santiago (@bigdan0022) December 11, 2021
Trenton said he keeps in contact with Litten often and they discuss college football and other matters of life.
“He’s not only a good coach, but a great fiend,” Trenton said. “He’s special in my life, for sure. He helped me a lot as a quarterback. Not just passing plays but also running.
“He took me under his wing, and as you can tell, he runs a great offensive scheme and I’m proud of him.”
Horizon (12-2) amassed 451 yards of total offense against a stout Salpointe defense with 5-foot-10, 170-pound senior quarterback Skyler Partridge, a sprinter in track, as an efficient leader.
Partridge completed 25 of 33 pass attempts for 278 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. He connected with junior Cole Linyard 15 times for 189 yards and a touchdown.
The running game was just as potent with Partridge gaining 41 yards on five carries and Wesley Lambert producing 143 yards on 33 rushes.
It was an incredible run and performance inasmuch as Horizon had not reached the state championship game since 1995, a year after the Huskies won their first and only state championship until Friday night. This is also Litten’s first season with the program after serving as Chandler Hamilton’s offensive coordinator the previous two seasons.
He left Marana after the 2017 season to move to the Phoenix area after his wife was hired at a Chandler hospital as a nurse.
Litten jokingly stated that after winning a championship in his first season at Horizon, “Next year, I don’t know what the expectations will be … hopefully it will be just as easy, right?”
“It wasn’t easy. It was hard. The kids worked their tails off. We found something special with this group of seniors and juniors together. It’s just been really cool.”
His coaching staff includes Tucsonan Cam Wierson, the Huskies’ defensive coordinator who served as offensive analyst and wide receivers coach at Hamilton the last two years with Litten. Wierson played at Pima College in 2007 after graduating from Ironwood Ridge.
“We have kids who played within a system and trusted their coaching and worked their tail off,” Litten said. “It was really cool to see.”
Litten added that his team is not one of superstars. He commented that only two Division I prospects are on the team. They are senior tight end Matthew Klopfenstein and defensive tackle Daniel “Boobie” Santiago — both of whom hold scholarship offers from Arizona.
Santiago believes Litten will produce more state championships for Horizon — as long as he stays there.
.@HorizonFootball coach @litten_andy, a Marana Mountain View & UA grad, talks about coaching the Huskies to a 5A state title in his first season. Former Marana coach was congratulated by his QB from then, @Trenton__B16, and throng of the Bourguet family and many Tucsonans after. pic.twitter.com/LHlnM7LqQM
— Javier Morales (@JavierJMorales) December 11, 2021
A college program at any level would do itself a favor by pursuing Litten, who is only 39, as an offensive coordinator judging from his dramatic success at Marana and Horizon in a relatively short amount of time.
Litten’s football knowledge, coaching and strategizing ability and charm to the community (look at his impact with how Tucsonans rally around him) would make him a home-run hire at the next level. No reason to believe he can’t be a head coach in college some day.
“The energy he brings is vibrant,” Santiago said. “Not a lot of teams have someone who does that for them. When he comes to practice every day, he’s happy to be there, happy to coach football, happy to lead this team to a state championship.”
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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. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District