3A FOOTBALL: Sabino cruised past Blue Ridge 38-6 in first round action

November 2, 2018 by Andy Morales, AZPreps365

Sabino sophomore QB AJ Skaggs hands off to Draven Carsten. (Andy Morales/AZPreps365.com)

No. 6 Sabino (9-2) cruised to a 38-6 win over No. 11 Blue Ridge (6-5) Friday night to advance to the quarterfinal round of the 3A playoffs where the Sabercats will face No. 3 Snowflake (9-1). The Lobos crushed No. 14 Fountain Hills 32-0 to set up the match with the Sabercats, slated for next Friday night.

Sabino connected on several big plays against Blue Ridge including a 64-yard run from senior Jamel Brown on the first play from scrimmage and a 75-yard pass play from sophomore QB AJ Skaggs to senior Jimmy Hamilton to put the Sabercats up 14-0 heading into the second quarter.

Skaggs finished the game with 208 yards passing on 13 attempts and he added a 3-yard scoring pass to junior Jayson Petty and a 65-yard strike to Diego Armijo to put the Sabercats ahead 28-0 21 seconds into the second half.

Skaggs saw limited action earlier in the year when the Sabercats were still searching for a starting QB but he took off and cemented his starting role in a 21-17 win against Catalina Foothills in the third game of the season and he carried that 117-yard and two touchdown performance into a 14-7 win at Blue Ridge next following week. The Victory over the Yellowjackets evened up the Sabercat record 2-2 and it started a nine-game win streak including the rematch with Blue Ridge.

@SabinoFootball1 QB AJ Skaggs talks leading team as a sophomore pic.twitter.com/SbnBSMveAz

— Andy Morales (@AZPreps365Andy) November 3, 2018

Skaggs is sitting at 1,323 yards passing for the year with 16 TDs but he’s going to need plenty of help to get past Snowflake Friday night.

The Yellowjackets had an up and down year and were 3-4 at one point with the fourth loss coming at home to Snowflake, 28-21. That close battle is sure to give the Sabercats some sense of hope.

Armijo added an interception to turn Blue Ridge away in the third quarter and junior Cameron Jacobs cashed in on the turnover with a 8-yard scoring run to put Sabino up 35-0 with 6:05 left in third. A 32-yard field goal from senior Johnny Atnip made it 38-0 but senior Chase Esparza rushed in from 18 yards out in the fourth quarter for the 38-6 final.

Esparza was the workhorse for the Yellowjackets and he finished with 146 yards rushing on 29 attempts.

The Sabercats are now one of five teams from Southern Arizona still alive in the postseason:

No. 8 Cienega (9-2) beat No. 9 Marana (7-4) 49-10 in the opening round of the 5A playoffs and the Bobcats will be rewarded with a trip to play at No. 1 Centennial (11-0) next Friday. The Coyotes beat Cienega 35-0 in the third week of the regular season.

In the 4A Conference, No. 1 Salpointe (11-0) and No. 5 Sahuaro (9-2) advanced to the quarterfinals and both teams will host a game next Friday because No. 13 Seton Catholic (8-3) upset No. 4 Peoria 54-49 which means the Sentinels will travel to Sahuaro.

No. 9 Benson (7-4) beat No. 8 Alchesay (9-2) 46-42 in 2A action but that means the Bobcats will have to visit No. 1 Thatcher (11-0) next Friday. The Eagles beat Benson 48-6 in the regular season.

Blue Ridge standout RB Chase Esparza (Andy Morales/AZPreps365.com)