The fate of the Marana Tigers’ football season was set in the early minutes of their first-round playoff clash in Vail against the Cienega Bobcats last Friday night.
The Tigers, who entered the clash as the ninth-seed in the 16-team Division 5A playoffs, were torched in the game’s first half by do-it-all Cienega senior Terrell Hayward.
Hayward, who had 306 rushing yards and three touchdowns in the home side’s three-score win, set the tone of the night with back-to-back rushing scores for the Bobcats.
The Tigers never quit, with senior quarterback Trenton Bourguet—who completed 30-of-34 passes for 338 yards and four touchdowns in his final high school start—connecting with sophomore wideout Isaiah Roebuck on two touchdown passes in the second half.
Bourguet hit his younger brother, Coben, for the team’s second score of the night, getting the Tigers within 15 points of the Bobcats some three minutes into the third quarter.
Cienega and Hayward never relented, with the senior punching home his third score of the evening to give the team a margin they’d never surrender.
First-year Tigers coach Louie Ramirez expressed great pride in how his team, which finished the year with a 7-4 record, battled against the Bobcats.
“I’m just proud of the way that we fought each week and got better because at the end of the day, it’s about so much more than football,” he said. “It’s so much more than wins and losses; I love these guys, these guys play their hearts out and to change from a new coaching staff, new offense, new defense, and just everything new and trying to get everything going in the right direction, they did everything I could ask for and more.”
Bourguet expressed a similar level of pride in how his brothers in blue and gold went out, fighting throughout on a brisk evening in Vail.
“We went out fighting, we weren’t going to give up; you know, I was playing defense the whole game when the coaches needed me to,” Bourguet said. “I wasn’t going to let the scoreboard fear me for the rest of my life, I wanted to make sure I left it all on the field and I know I did.”
Bourguet reflected on his time with the Tigers, including the pass to Roebuck in the second that allowed him to break the 5A career passing touchdown record held by former Scottsdale Horizon High School QB Dalton Sneed, with 88 for his career.
“The thing about Marana is we’re a town, we’re not just a school,” Bourguet said. “Everybody grows up together, you go to the same elementary school, you see each other at birthday parties, at the park. It’s about everybody sticking together, just staying the course, because we knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but looking back it’s crazy how fast it’s flown by, but I’m glad where we ended up.”
Roebuck thanked the senior class, including his lifelong friend at quarterback for all they’ve done to inspire the younger players on the team.
“They’re a big influence on everybody,” Roebuck said. “Everybody can learn from these people because they treat each other like brothers. It’s a brotherhood. It’s not just a team.”
Ramirez believes the departing seniors, including Bourguet, Jordan and linebacker TJ Cephers to name a few, are the type of players that coaches dream about building their teams around.
“They want to be good people, students and athletes in that order and they just do things the right way,” Ramirez said. “If you have that and guys just stick together and play together for a lot of years, you can have a successful program.”
Bourguet was among a small cadre of players left on the turf playing surface after the game, soaking in his final high school performance with his teammates and friends.
One of the last to congratulate the senior gunslinger on his record-breaking evening was longtime Cienega coach Patrick Nugent, who patted the senior on the back and wished him the best going forward.
It was a night many on the opposing side would likely wish to forget, but a season and a teamwide legacy that will stand the test of time.
“We really work our butt off and we’re just hoping that we made our town proud,” Bourguet said. “We just know that we’re hard workers not just on the field, but in the world as well.”