Arizona hosts Arizona State Saturday in a rivalry game to kickstart both programs’ preseasons.
The Wildcats and Sun Devils have a couple scrimmages under their belts this fall, but Saturday marks the first 80-minute game against a fellow college side for both, and should provide somewhat of a preview for their March 26 rendezvous in the inaugural CPL season.
“We've traditionally had more matches in the fall,” said Arizona coach Dave Sitton. “But with the league starting in March, instead of January, we had to cut the fall portion of our program.”
Returning to the team this year for Arizona is two-time All American Peter Tiberio, who missed much of the 2009/2010 season with a hamstring pull and labrum injury which required surgery. Over the summer, Tiberio toured with the College All Americans in England, and this fall he’s making the move from center to fullback.
Also back for Arizona are returning All Conference players Chris Elkins and David Samons, who’ll anchor the Wildcat pack, as well as 14 of 15 starters from last season’s Elite Eight squad.
Arizona State, quarterfinalist in DII last season, will have its work cut out this spring in the CPL, and coach Gary Lane is hoping to use Saturday as a barometer of where the team is in preparation. “The expectation for our kids is we’re playing a much more powerful team, a much better team than us, so we want to see how we measure up,” said Lane.
“What I’m looking for is whether we meet our goals that we set for ourselves, which will be laid out before the game by the players, and as long as we meet those goals and expectations, that’s really what’s important to us.”
Returning to the Sun Devils this year are team captain Stevie Johnson and key players Xavier Torrres, Travis Hughes and Matt Bulkley.
Arizona leads the all time series with their in-state rivals 47-14-1, with the Wildcats winning the last meeting 24-10 on Nov. 14, 2009.