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Sun Devil Legends Tournament Gold Regional Final: Mike Haynes Vs. Adam Archuleta

Archuleta looks to be king of the defense with a win over Haynes. (Photo: ASU)
Archuleta looks to be king of the defense with a win over Haynes. (Photo: ASU)

The Sun Devil Legends Tournament is now closing out the Elite 8 round. With the Sparky, Kush and Maroon Regional Finals already underway, all that's left is the Gold Region's match-up.

And boy, is it a good one.

The region's top seed, cornerback Mike Haynes, had an easy go of it in the first round, as he squared off against dynamic running back J.R. Redmond. The College and Pro Football Hall of Famer took home 81% of the votes to advance.

Things were more intense in the 2/3 battle. Adam Archuleta faced off against All-American tackle Juan Roque, and it went down to the wire, with Archuleta beating out Roque by just two votes.

That sets up a doozy of a defensive battle for the Gold Region title and a berth in the Final Four.

Gold Regional Final

#1 seed Mike Haynes vs. #2 seed Adam Archuleta

The Case for Haynes

Not only is Mike Haynes a member of both the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame, he also has his number retired by both ASU and the New England Patriots.

While a Sun Devil, Haynes was a three-time All-WAC selection from 1973-1975. He was a dominant performer whose ball-hawking skills netted him 11 interceptions in 1974, a total that led the nation. Lou Holtz referred to Haynes as "the best defensive back I've ever seen."

Haynes was also a two-time All-American selection, with a consensus pick in 1975, the same season ASU finished 12-0 and ranked second in the country.

The Case for Archuleta

The mid-to-late 1990s were a golden era for the undersized/overachieving defender. First, there was the legendary Pat Tillman. Then, during Tillman's Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year season in 1997, he was joined by his the man who would become his successor.

Nailing down a starting spot in 1998, Archuleta was a dynamic playmaking force all over the field. As a junior in 1999, he earned first team All Pac-10 honors, thanks to 111 tackles, 21 for loss and five sacks.

He was even better as a senior. Archuleta repeated as a first team All Pac-10 performer, but he, like Tillman just three years prior, also took home the prestigious Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year award.

Vote now for your pick to represent the Gold Region in the Final Four. Polls close Thursday at 11:59pm PST.