It starts outside the Scottsdale Saguaro varsity football locker room, where you see a wall of fame, where names from the past are written.
Guys like Christian Kirk and Byron Murphy, now Arizona Cardinals, are two of the most recent great Sabercats.
Inside, coach Jason Mohns is getting this year’s team ready to attack another practice for what could become the greatest team not only in Saguaro’s rich history, but Arizona high school history.
There are 19 players with Division I college football offers. The 2020 class, led by cornerback Kelee Ringo, has eight players with Power 5 offers.
It’s a 4A school (out of 6A in Arizona, but USA Today had the Sabercats ranked No. 17 nationally in its preseason poll.
There isn’t a position on the team that has a question mark.
There is depth everywhere.
So how does Mohns keep everybody’s egos in check?
“It’s a matter of the culture you establish in the program,” said Mohns, who is starting his eighth year as head coach, winning state titles the last six. “It’s how you allow people to treat each other, and the expectations you have.
“To be honest with you, it hasn’t been an issue for us. We don’t have a bunch of kids who walk around with big egos and act like they don’t have to work hard. It’s just not the culture, it’s just not what’s accepted here at Saguaro.”
What’s expected are state championships.
Since 2006, Saguaro has built a football dynasty like no other in Arizona, winning 11 state championships. Ten of those titles came in 4A, the third-largest football division. The Sabercats won state at the second-biggest level in the one-and-done test pilot year of 2015 when schools were placed in divisions based more on success than enrollment numbers.
Saguaro’s student enrollment has basically stayed the same over the years, but the football program has only grown.
Much of that has to do with how Mohns has continued to make his the most attractive program in Arizona with high-profile recruits and a growing alumni of college and NFL players.
This summer, there are more players out for the team — more than 100 — than Mohns has ever seen.
“You lay a foundation when they’re young,” Mohns said. “They learn what it means to be a Sabercat, how we do things here. So when they get to that point where they’re the big man on campus, and they have those opportunities, they know that doesn’t change the way that you’re expected to carry yourself and how your treat your teammates and coaches.
“We are talented. We have some high-profile guys, but at the end of the day, we hold everybody to the same standards. It doesn’t matter how many offers they have.”
The timing couldn’t be better for Saguaro to begin the new era of the Open Division in Arizona, with an eight-team, best-of-the-best, state bracket that could potentially pit Saguaro against three-time defending 6A champion Chandler or two-time defending 5A champion Peoria Centennial for a chance at the ultimate gold ball.