The Sahuarita Mustangs ended the 2019 season Friday night with a dominating 61-8 road win over the Tanque Verde Hawks. The end of the season also marked the end of high school football careers for 10 seniors.
Wearing the blue and gold football helmet and gear for the last time were Aaron Sisk, Orlando Williams, Michael Molio’o, Osten Sherry, Bryce Williams, Jorden Encinas-Peraza, Jacob Terrell, RJ Ahumada, Cristian Gonzales and Kevin Garcia.
Sahuarita ended the season with a 5-5 record, 2-3 in Region 3A South, and in the No. 25 spot in the state 3A rankings.
The lopsided 61-8 win over Tanque Verde came as no surprise; the team was winless in their 2019 football campaign.
Seven Mustangs carried the ball Friday night for 544 yards on 37 carries, picking up touchdowns on seven of those carries. Orlando Williams had a 13-yard touchdown run with 79 yards on eight carries. Molio’o scored on a 15-yard run picking up 100 yards on four carries. Gonzales scored twice rushing the ball, one for 81 yards and another for 60 yards, a total of 189 yards on five carries. Bryce Williams scored both times he carried the ball, one for 17, and the second for six yards. Freshman Brady Radovich scored on a 63-yard run and had 124 yards total on 11 carries. Junior Gabriel Elias, six for 13 yards. Senior RJ Ahumada one for 21, rounded out the Mustang rushing attack.
The Hawks were limited to 11 yards on 22 carries, but the Hawks managed 100 yards passing with five completions of 22 attempts and one TD.
It took the Mustangs no time at all to establish their dominance. Junior Tanner-James Friend took the opening kickoff and ripped through the Hawks’ defenders for 70 yards and the early 8-0 with successful PAT.
After a Tanque Verde "three and out," Molio’o would use a pair of runs, one for 35 yards and the second run a 15-yard scoring run, to move the SHS edge to 14-0.
At this point, Coach Don Watt and the Mustang coaching staff started inserting younger players to get experience and a chance to play with the seniors. Watt left his seniors in so they could enjoy their final game.
At one point Watt said, “I want us to win with class or not at all.”
SHS would build a 49-0 led by later part of the second quarter. Tanque Verde would manage their only score of the game on a six play, 70 yard drive, culminating with a 27-yard touchdown pass. As Hawks’ freshman Sebastian Armsey crossed the goal line both the Hawks’ and the Mustangs' fans cheered the Hawk’s effort. 49-8 with successful PAT.
As the final seconds of the first half ticked down, Watt let one of his players have a little fun. Ahumada, a three-year starting center and defensive lineman, lined up in the offensive backfield. Ahumada took the ball and churned his way through the Tanque Verde defense for 21 yards, much to the delight of the Mustang sidelines and the fans.
The majority of the second half was played with a running clock. Seniors and Mustang underclassmen played out the remainder of the game just for the joy of playing the game.
Following the game, the joy of the game came face to face with the fact that this would be the last time many on the field would wear the Mustang uniform. The seniors were up front as the team faced the bleachers and sang the school fight song.
Smiles and teary eyes etched the faces of players and coaches. Coaches paused to regain their composure as they spoke to the team in the post-game huddle.
Watt thanked the seniors for their efforts over the last two years, his tenure as the head coach. Wishing them the best, he told the Mustangs that Friday night may be the end for some, but it is the beginning of next season for the others. Watt and defensive coordinator Anthony Coronado told returning players that the staff would start making plans, moving X’s and O’s and moving players into spots in the line-up this week.
Line coach Mario Elias told the returning Mustangs about working for the next season: “A day missed is a day lost.”
It seems the Mustangs are already starting to build new boats to burn.