The course of the Marana Tigers football season came down to a bounce (or lack thereof) on an onside kick attempt late in the game’s fourth quarter.
The kick came after the Tigers scored on an 18-yard passing touchdown by junior gunslinger Trenton Bourguet to Tariq Jordan, pulling Marana within three points of top-seeded Cienega, 38-35.
The ensuing kick shot off the foot of junior kicker Jaime Avila, throwing up chunks of tire and green-painted plastic on the synthetic playing surface, before bouncing innocently into a Cienega player’s arms.
It was a rather mundane conclusion to a game that was anything but, as the mighty Bobcats—who entered Friday’s clash with an unblemished 11-0 record (including a 57-50 shootout win over Marana in August), needed all 48 minutes to slay the pesky Tigers.
Future University of Arizona quarterback and current Cienega senior Jamarye Joiner somehow one-upped his gaudy year-long stats, with touchdown runs of 65 and 80 yards, while also hitting on a Hail Mary pass from midfield as the clock hit zero in the second quarter.
Not to be outdone, Bourguet put up a dual-threat game to remember for the Tigers, with 282 passing yards and 99 more on the ground, to go with four touchdowns (two passing and two rushing).
Bourguet remained upbeat after the game’s final whistle, praising his teammates for their effort, even after falling behind 38-21 in the third quarter.
“You see how much we want to win every game; especially in the state quarterfinals,” Bourguet said. “It stinks, these guys are my family, my brothers. And we’re just proud to make our community proud. And we wish that could have gotten that W, because as you could see, we had way more fans than the home team did. But hopefully next year will be our year to go far, kind of like how these guys are doing.”
Hold your heads high
Coach Andy Litten and his staff made sure his players knew how proud they were of their effort, taking several minutes post-game to thank them for their work on Friday night.
“I think it’s just a credit to the culture that we’ve created here,” Litten said. “In terms of kids that are never going to quit. At one point we were down 17, and that’s nothing to us. Obviously, we needed a couple of big stops there late, and we came up one onside kick short. But other than that, I felt our kids battled and it’s a credit to them.”
The despair on the Marana side of the field was palpable after the game concluded, with senior Teon Simmons staring at the game’s scoreboard in stunned silence for what seemed like an eternity.
Simmons soon had company, however, as his brothers in white made sure to check up on him and comfort the senior wide receiver however they could.
Litten believes it’s a good thing that his players took the loss personally, as it shows the maturation and progress the team has made since he took over in 2012.
“There were some kids that were upset last year just because the ride was over,” Litten said. “But we played the number two team and they ended up winning it all, and I kind of felt happy just to be there. And I think that this year, it shows that our kids expect more, and I think that’s a great thing and a credit to the program.”
The future is bright for Litten’s squad, with Bourguet and receivers Tariq Jordan and Alfred Ebunoha returning to a team that scored a Division 5A-best 48.1 points per game this season.
Bourguet certainly expects big things from his teammates next fall, and hopes Tiger faithful won’t hang their for too long over the three-point defeat.
“We’re a hard-working team and we’re ready to turn some heads next year,” Bourguet said. “The last couple of years, we’ve turned some heads. But next year, it’s my last year, and I’m going to go out there and turn some heads for sure.”