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CHAMPIONSHIP: Class 2A
SCORE: Eloy Santa Cruz 33, Superior 7
DATE: November 21, 1990
SITE: Tempe Marcos de Niza High School
GAME SUMMARY: In a battle of unbeaten teams, Eloy Santa Cruz relied on the rushing of Kevin Butler and Eddie Cade to win its first state title in 10 years. The Dust Devils capped a 13-0 season behind Butler’s 186 yards rushing and Cade’s 70 yards and one score.
Cade’s brother Joe was also on the team as a fullback/linebacker. Their cousins Mike and Mossy Cade starred at Santa Cruz during its run of three straight state titles from 1978-80. Butler is also a cousin of all of the Cades.
Santa Cruz’s win over Superior was observed by recruiters from Dick Tomey’s staff at Arizona and Larry Marmie’s staff at ASU. Eddie Cade went on to ASU before playing with the New England Patriots in 1985. Butler suffered a hamstring injury during an all-star game after his senior year, which hampered him from a chance at playing at the college level.
Butler and Eddie Cade executed out of coach Jay Denton’s wishbone offense and shreded Superior’s defense that yielded an average of less than 100 yards a game on the ground. The Dust Devils amassed 235 yards rushing.
Butler scored on runs of 27 and 86 yards on Santa Cruz’s first two possessions.
Superior (11-1) kept the game close at the half, trailing 21-7, but Santa Cruz took control on the first possession of the second half that was capped by Butler’s 8-yard TD run.
It was argued at the time that Santa Cruz could have very well won the 3A state title. The Dust Devils beat 3A finalist Miami by three touchdowns earlier that season.
THEY SAID IT: “It was a dream backfield (Butler and Eddie Cade). We’re all relatives and we have the same potential because we come from good bloodlines.” — Joe Cade, Eloy Santa Cruz senior FB/LB in 1990.
DID YOU KNOW: Denton returned to Santa Cruz after coaching the Dust Devils to the 1978 state title. He was out of coaching until coming back to the Dust Devil program in 1989. He started the Santa Cruz wrestling program in 1969 and led it to state championships in 1977, 1991, and 1995. He later taught and coached football and wrestling at Yuma Gila Ridge from 2005 to 2013. He is in the Arizona High School Athletics Hall of Fame and National Wrestling Coaches Hall of Fame. Denton, 78, passed away unexpectedly June 5 after moving from Yuma to the Phoenix area to watch his grandchildren compete in athletics.
BOX SCORE (printed in Arizona Republic):