For eight weeks, Sahuarita head coach David Rodriguez has hung banners in his team's locker room, each one representing a victory. Thanks to a 59-17 win over Pueblo on Friday night, he can add No. 9.
"Every week has been a championship week for us," Rodriguez said. "We're playing for the big game, the Super Bowl."
The Super Bowl for the undefeated Mustangs would be winning next week against Catalina, which would leave them undefeated in the regular season, a feat that's never been accomplished in school history.
The Mustangs didn't have an easy time with the Warriors, who by halftime had forced two Sahuarita turnovers and tied the game at 10 on a last-second field goal. Pueblo received the ball in the second half with a chance to capitalize on the momentum, but instead, Sahuarita capitalized on Pueblo's mistakes.
On the first drive of the third quarter, Pueblo running back Vincent Palma fumbled on an 8-yard carry, giving Sahuarita the ball back less than a minute into the second half. Five plays later, the Mustangs took a permanent lead.
"Had it happened to them, I think it would have broken their back, because they've never had to play from behind," Pueblo head coach Michael Chadwick said. "They capitalize on turnovers. They've done it all year long."
Pueblo's first four drives ended in turnovers, destroying its momentum.
Senior quarterback Richard Gastelo tossed three interceptions, in addition to Palma's fumble. All three were caught by safety Joey Howard, who returned one for a TD.
"In the first half, I was struggling a little bit," Howard said. "In the second half, I just came out, played center field and played my game."
All four turnovers led to Mustangs touchdowns, including three in the first five minutes of the half. At the end of the third, the Mustangs had taken control of the game, leading 45-17.
"We were very opportunistic. Those turnovers gave us some juice, some spirit," Rodriguez said.