2023 High School Football

Sabino celebrates its first state title in 25 years behind Mason Cade’s 371 yards rushing

Sabino coach Ryan McBrayer lofts the state championship trophy in the air (Javier Morales/ AllSportsTucson.com)

PHOENIX — Tucson’s eight-year wait for a football state championship is over.

The 25-year title drought for Sabino is a thing of the past.

“We made shirts at the beginning of the year, all the shirt said was ‘2015,’ and that’s the last time that Tucson as a city took home a state championship,” Sabino coach Ryan McBrayer said, referencing Pusch Ridge’s Division IV state title win over Northwest Christian.

“These guys (he had his arm around quarterback Cameron Hackworth) had lofty expectations. They never wavered in that belief. They’re the team that broke an eight-year curse for Southern Arizona.”

No. 4 Sabino captured its first state title since 1998 with its 68-46 shootout victory Saturday night over No. 3 Paradise Honors in the 3A state championship at Mountain Pointe High School.

The 68 points are the most in state playoff history in 11-man football.


A look at the Sabercats when they have played in a state championship game. The program started at the varsity level in 1974.
1990PeoriaW/31-284A14-0Jeff Scurran
1992Phoenix WashingtonW/28-34A14-0Jeff Scurran
1997Cottonwood MingusL/23-144A13-1Jeff Scurran
1998Avondale Agua FriaW/27-94A12-1-1Jeff Scurran
1999Mesa Mountain ViewL/21-145A13-1Jeff Scurran
2005Glendale CactusL/30-74AD110-4Jay Campos
2006Scottsdale SaguaroL/41-214AD112-2Jay Campos
2009Canyon del OroL/40-04AD111-3Jay Campos
2016ALA-Queen CreekL/31-143A12-2Jay Campos
2023Surprise Paradise HonorsW/68-463A11-3Ryan McBrayer
Sabino celebrates its first state title in 25 years (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Sabino won a title after coming close to capturing one in recent years.

After winning the 1998 state title under Jeff Scurran, the Sabercats (11-3) went to the state championship in 1999, 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2016 but came up short.

Sabino has played in 10 state championships overall.

The school’s principal, Kevin Amidan, a member of the 1998 championship team, was on the field the entire game and celebrated with the Sabercats’ coaches and players afterward.

“It feels good because I know what they’re feeling right now,” said Amidan, who was a lineman. “I grabbed one of the coaches and said, ‘Take a deep breath because you’ll never forget the smell of this.’

“I get goosebumps talking about it and thinking about it right now. Our message to the boys all week was, ‘Go get one.’ They did it. They put in the work. They earned it.”

Scurran was in attendance as was former Sabino and Arizona defensive end great Brooks Reed, whose return flight from Iowa after celebrating Thanksgiving there with family was on time for him to watch the game.

Reed played with Sabino’s 2005 team that lost in the state championship to Glendale Cactus.

“Couldn’t miss my boys playing in the state championship,” Reed said. “The boys are playing great. We just want to finish the job. … Huge game for the program. Love to see a win and love to see something Sabino has not done in a while — win a state championship.

“These boys really want it and they deserve it.”

Mason Cade, a senior running back, put himself in Southern Arizona championship lore along with the likes of Salpointe’s Cam Denson in 2013, when Denson had 303 yards of total offense and three touchdowns against Scottsdale Chaparral, leading the Lancers to their first state title.

Cade finished with 371 yards on 23 carries with five touchdowns, which included runs of 72, 70 and 43 yards. His 43-yard run included a stiff arm that knocked a Paradise Honors defender to the ground.

“Looking at film (of Paradise Honors), I saw the opportunity was there and I had to take it,” Cade said. “My O-line got it done up front. They made it really easy for me to hit those lanes, hit that hole and I’ll take it.

“Pure adrenaline … I think that’s what boosted me to have a game like this — the adrenaline, the occasion — I rose to it.”

McBrayer said he had the premonition last season that Cade will be the one who leads Sabino to a state championship.

The thought occurred after Cade had 120 yards on 12 carries in a 56-19 loss to eventual state champion Mesa Eastmark in the regular season. Sabino later last season lost in the quarterfinals to Eastmark, a game in which Cade rushed for 144 yards on 20 carries.

“One of the notes I wrote down (after the regular-season game) was, ‘Mason Cade is going to win us a state championship,'” McBrayer said. “It took an extra year but I told him preseason that he’s going to be one of those dudes that brings home the gold ball.

“He’s battled injuries this whole season. He’s one of the best players in the state of Arizona. Mason Cade won us a championship tonight behind our O-line.”

The leader among those “dudes” is senior quarterback Cameron Hackworth.

Despite playing sparingly in two games as a freshman, Hackworth produced enough passing yards in the last three seasons to move past former Catalina Foothills quarterback Rhett Rodriguez for the career lead in passing yards in Southern Arizona.

His 47-yard touchdown pass to Shamar Berryhill, a junior, with 10:07 left in the second quarter gave him the record.

The play put him at 8,735 yards, passing the 8,694 accumulated by Rodriguez from 2013-16.

Hackworth’s 118 yards passing on 5 of 6 attempts against Paradise Honors completes his career with 8,799 yards. Rodriguez, son of former Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez who went on to play for the Wildcats, set the previous record of 8,694 yards at Catalina Foothills from 2013-16.

Despite his prolific passing and rushing numbers — he has well over 10,000 yards combined passing and rushing in his career — the 5-foot-8 and 160-pound Hackworth is not yet widely recruited.

“I means a lot to me; it’s amazing,” Hackworth said of the record. “Rhett Rodriguez went on to play in college football as a quarterback, so I hope this opens up some eyes to some people to say, ‘Cam Hackworth can go do it. It doesn’t matter about the size or measurements, just let him go do it. Let him get on campus and earn the opportunity.'”

Paradise Honors (11-3) was led by senior quarterback Gage Baker, whose seven touchdown passes allowed him to tie the national record of 91 set in 2007 by Paducah (Ky.) Lone Oak’s Corey Robinson.

Baker passed for 517 yards while completing 46 of 67 attempts. He also rushed for 85 yards on 14 carries.

He threw for 6,040 yards on 380-of-506 pass attempts with 91 touchdowns and 11 interceptions this season.

That’s a tremendous career for high school quarterbacks. Baker accomplished those numbers in one season.

“Playing with this team, it’s not all about the records, it’s about getting to state,” Baker said. “It’s about changing the program around, changing the culture, a culture of going 2-8 all the time, not a good winning culture, to making it to a state championship, giving Sabino a run for their money.

“It’s everything you can ask for. You wish you could win it, of course, but it’s just a blessing the whole entire time.”

Sabino scored a touchdown on its first seven possessions and on a pick-six by Berryhill.

Berryhill, a junior who is an Arizona recruiting target, put Sabino ahead 52-20 with 8:00 left in the third quarter with the 27-yard interception return.

Cade rushed for 211 yards on 13 carries with three touchdowns by halftime to help Sabino take a 36-20 lead.

His 72-yard touchdown run with 3:14 left in the first quarter gave the Sabercats a 12-8 lead.

After Baker completed a 35-yard touchdown pass to Josh Morales, Sabino quickly answered with another touchdown. Cade’s 22-yard run set up Hackworth’s 47-yard touchdown pass to Berryhill

A turning point occurred on Paradise Honor’s ensuing possession. Jack Skaggs, a senior linebacker with Sabino, recovered a fumble at the Sabercats’ 23-yard line.

Pass interference and personal foul penalties, and a 15-yard run by Cade, set up Cade’s rushing touchdown of 1 yard with 4:23 left in the half. His 2-point conversion run gave Sabino a 28-14 lead.

Sabino held at least a two-touchdown lead the rest of the game.

The Sabercats forced Paradise Honors to turn the ball over on downs in its first possession of the third quarter after the Panthers recovered an onside kick to start the second half.

Hackworth completed two passes for 35 yards in the ensuing possession, which was capped by Cade’s 3-yard touchdown run. Hackworth’s 2-point conversion run gave Sabino a 44-20 lead with 8:23 left in the third quarter.

Sabino gained complete control on Berryhill’s 27-yard interception return for a touchdown in Paradise Honors’ next possession. Hackworth’s 2-point conversion pass to Devon Waxwood gave the Sabercats a 52-20 lead with 8:00 left in the quarter.

“This game had a lot of emotion; the last game with my brothers … the last game with my older brother (Savaughn) and all the seniors on the team,” Shamar said. “I just wanted to make my plays and give this team some success. Look at the scoreboard. We won the state championship. That’s all I can ask for.”


List of schools and their head coaches from Southern Arizona who have coached teams in the state championship games.
Year/ClSAZ CoachSAZ TeamSAZ CoachOppW/L
1959/CReg LeFevrePatagonia Lakeside L/34-19
1960/ACharlies WillinghamDouglas Arcadia L/21-13
1960/CJim CrawfordSt. David Tuba City W/40-21
1961/AALou FarberPueblo St. Mary’s W/16-14
1962/AAJohn MallamoTucson Arcadia L/40-7
1962/CReg LefevrePatagonia Camp Verde L/32-31
1963/AABill LovinRincon Mesa L/28-0
1963/CReg LeFevrePatagonia Camp Verde L/44-18
1964/ALarry HartFlowing Wells Winslow L/7-0
1964/BDuane MorrisonMarana Lee BarnesWillcox MHS/14-7
1964/CReg LeFevrePatagonia McNary L/27-13
1965/AAJohn MallamoTucson Yuma Union W/27-6
1966/AAJohn MallamoTucson Westwood W/14-7
1966/C Jim CrawfordSt. David McNary L/53-6
1967/AALou FarberPueblo St. Mary’s L/34-22
1967/BDon HawkinsMarana Parker L/40-0
1967/CJohn GrimesValley Union Fredonia L/71-7
1968/AAAIke SharpDouglas St. Mary’s L/27-14
1968/AALarry HartFlowing Wells Coconino L/6-0
1968/BDon HawkinsMarana Round Valley W/21-6
1969/AADick PottleSafford Winslow W/26-24
1970/AAAOllie MayfieldTucson Sunnyslope W/54-16
1970/AADick PottleSafford Agua Fria L/48-26
1971/AAAOllie MayfieldTucson Tempe W/20-14
1971/AADick PottleSafford Larry HartFlowing Wells SHS/28-10
1972/AALarry HartFlowing Wells Agua Fria L/35-21
1972/CJim CrawfordSt. David Fredonia W/36-22
1973/AAAVan HowePalo Verde Camelback W/22-20
1973/AALarry HartFlowing Wells CoconinoW/14-3
1973/AVern FriedliMorenci Gilbert L/27-6
1974/AAKen SawinDouglas Coconino L/21-14
1975/AAAJerry LoperAmphiMaryvale W/23-22
1975/AALarry HartFlowing Wells Snowflake W/14-13
1975/CL.W. JacksonValley Union MayerL/26-16
1976/AABob SmithCDOKen SawinDouglas CDO/24-15
1976/ACliff MartinMorenci Page W/39-7
1976/CJohn MilfordTucson D&BMayer W/42-22
1977/AABob SmithCDOGilbert W/9-7
1977/ABoone JacksonWillcox Coolidge L/28-0
1977/CJim CrawfordSt. David Fredonia W/22-6
1978/ALarry WooldridgeWillcox Santa Cruz L/40-36
1978/BMike HayhurstBenson St. Johns L/20-12
1979/AAAVern FriedliAmphitheater Mesa W/27-0
1979/CJim CrawfordSt. David Salome W/28-22
1981/AAAEd DohertySalpointe Trevor Browne L/20-0
1981/ADamon BeckerSan Manuel Buckeye W/14-7
1981/CSteve SorceSuffolk Hills Maricopa L/20-14
1982/AALarry GrayFlowing Wells Flagstaff L/10-7
1982/ADick PottleSafford Snowflake L/19-13
1982/BPaul HanleyWillcox Blue Ridge W/13-11
1982/CSteve SorceSuffolk Hills Pima W/23-14
1983/AALarry GrayFlowing Wells Flagstaff L/24-7
1984/AAAHoward BreinigSahuaro St. Mary’s L/31-14
1984/BJack EdensMorenci Phoenix Christian L/25-7
1985/CGary MauldinValley Union Western Christian W/26-20
1986/BJesse HughesThatcher Larry WooldridgeWillcox THS/13-10
1986/CGary MauldinValley Union NW Christian W/57-20
1987/CBill HousePatagonia Tom DavisValley Union PHS/36-18
1988/BEd ShameyThatcher Hayden W/20-6
1988/CBill HousePatagonia Scottsdale Christian W/38-26
1989/2AEd ShameyThatcher Florence L/18-0
1990/5AVern FriedliAmphiMesa L/21-7
1990/4AJeff ScurranSabino Peoria W/31-28
1990/1ATom DavisValley Union Seligman L/56-0
1991/5APat WelchertSalpointe St. Mary’s L/28-13
1991/4AHoward BreinigSahuaro Agua Fria L/28-0
1991/1ABill HousePatagonia Fredonia T/36-36
1992/4AJeff ScurranSabino Washington W/28-3
1992/2AReynaldo PeruMorenci St. Johns L/20-8
1992/1ABill HousePatagonia AZ LutheranL/56-14
1993/4AWayne JonesMountain View Howard BreinigSahuaro MtV/63-32
1994/4AHoward BreinigSahuaro Peoria T/17-17
1994/2APete BearseBenson St. Johns L/34-6
1995/2AEd ShameyThatcher Ray L/28-6
1997/5AVern FriedliAmphiMesa Mt ViewL/28-24
1997/4AJeff ScurranSabino Mingus UnionL/23-14
1997/1AJohn BryantSt. David Mogollon W/58-26
1998/4AJeff ScurranSabino Agua Fria W/27-9
1998/2AJim HughesThatcher Queen Creek W/28-12
1998/1AJohn BryantSt. David Orme School W/48-30
1999/5AJeff ScurranSabino Mesa Mt ViewL/21-14
1999/4ANemer HasseySahuaro Chaparral L/27-10
2000/4ARichard SanchezSunnyside Chaparral L/28-14
2000/2ADon ConradThatcher St. Johns W/14-13
2000/1AJohn BryantSt. David Bagdad W/50-8
2001/4ARichard SanchezSunnyside Greenway (11-3)W/28-6
2001/2ADon ConradThatcher Phoenix Christian (11-3)W/35-26
2001/1AJohn BryantSt. David Joseph City W/57-43
2003/4ARichard SanchezSunnyside Cactus W/21-13
2005/4ADIJay CamposSabino Cactus L/30-7
2005/4ADIITodd MayfieldPalo VerdeMingus Union W/15-7
2006/5ADIIRichard SanchezSunnyside Centennial L/34-0
2006/4ADIJay CamposSabino Saguaro L/41-21
2006/2ADon ConradThatcher Valley ChristianW/42-20
2007/4ADIPat NugentCDOSaguaro L/23-21
2007/1ATony LuzaniaValley Union Pima W/28-12
2008/4ADIIJeff ScurranSanta Rita Notre Dame Prep L/30-26
2009/4ADIDustin PeaceCDOJay CamposSabino CDO/40-0
2009/4ADIIJeff ScurranSanta Rita Cactus L/14-0
2009/2AJim HughesWillcox Valley ChristianL/41-32
2010/4ADIDustin PeaceCDOSaguaro L/41-34
2011/DIINemer HasseyCienega Chaparral L/37-14
2012/DIIMatt JohnsonIronwood Ridge Centennial W/27-3
2012/DVFrank OgasMorenci NW Christian L/21-7
2013/DIIDennis BeneSalpointeChaparral W/46-20
2015/DIVTroy CoppPusch Ridge NW Christian W/14-7
2015/DVChris DetermanBenson Joy Christian L/27-7
2015/DVITony LuzaniaValley Union Pima L/59-32
2016/4AJeff ScurranCatalina Foothills Saguaro L/42-14
2016/3AJay CamposSabino ALA-QCL/31-14
2016/2ASean HintonThatcher Round Valley W/33-28
2017/4ADennis BeneSalpointe Saguaro L/28-7
2017/3AJerry HarrisPusch Ridge Casteel L/35-28
2017/2ASean HintonThatcher Santa Cruz W/28-27 OT
2018/4ADennis BeneSalpointe Saguaro L/42-16
2018/2ARamon MoralesThatcher Round Valley W/35-12
2020/2AChris DetermanBenson Santa Cruz L/42-7
2021/5AEric RogersSalpointe Horizon L/38-28
2021/4AJake BarroCasa Grande Poston Butte W/33-28
2021/2AJoe GarciaMorenci AZ Lutheran L/28-14
2021/1ABraden DavisSt. David Mogollon L/58-12
2022/3ADaniel JonesThatcher Eastmark L/42-21
2022/2AJoe GarciaMorenci Pima L/59-19
2023/4ADustin PeaceCDOYuma Catholic TBD
2023/3ARyan McBrayerSabino Paradise Honors W/68-46


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 in 2016 and is presently a special education teacher at Sunnyside High School in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

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