Salpointe’s Cameron Denson slips a tackle attempt by Juan Avalos in the first quarter. Denson caught nine passes for 156 yards and had scoring receptions of 22, 30 and 33 yards in the Lancers’ shutout victory.
Salpointe Catholic’s quick-strike aerial offense grabs most of the attention. But for the fourth straight week, the Lancers defense overpowered its opposition.
Thursday night, Southern Arizona’s top team blanked visiting Sunnyside 46-0.
“Coming into the season, there was a huge emphasis on the offense,” Salpointe linebacker Jay Williams said. “As a defense, we were really confident in our abilities.
“We take great pride in defense. It’s a veteran group, and we love playing.”
The Blue Devils (2-1) managed just 48 yards of offense and three first downs in the first half. That, coupled with two failed fourth-down conversions and special teams mistakes, continually gave Salpointe (4-0) great field position.
The Lancers capitalized through the air and led 32-0 at halftime.
It’s a trend: Salpointe has outscored its opponents 132-7 in the opening two quarters through four games and 190-21 overall.
“Was everything perfect? No,” Salpointe coach Dennis Bene said. “But, the outcome was fantastic and our kids played hard. They’re not letting up and I’m proud of them for that.”
It took the Lancers just three plays to reach the end zone as quarterback Andrew Cota hit UA commit Cameron Denson for a 22-yard touchdown.
The connection continued to produce for Salpointe as Denson grabbed nine balls for 156 yards and three scores on the night.
“I thought the defense played pretty good; (it’s) just (that) Cameron is a hell of a receiver,” Sunnyside coach Glenn Posey said. “Our guy was in a perfect position on all of the touchdown passes, and Cameron just out-executed us.”
Posey, the Class 5A state record holder for career catches (158) during his playing days at Sunnyside, said Denson and Cota were executing like NFL players.
“We made some nice plays, some good defensive plays and we just gave up (three) perfectly thrown balls for touchdowns,” Posey said.
After allowing the opening score, the Blue Devils defense slowed down the Lancers for most of the first quarter.
But with the Sunnyside offense nonexistent, its defense couldn’t hang on forever.
In a 5:10 span starting near the end of the first quarter, a Zach Dorame run and two Denson touchdown catches (30 and 33 yards) turned the one-score game into a 26-point blowout.
Blue Devils senior safety Steven Saenz made an impact defensively and had the team’s longest play, a 20-yard run in the fourth quarter.
Still Cota, who transferred from Sunnyside, was able to complete 15 of 23 passes for 208 yards. He also led Salpointe on the ground and had two rushing scores, including a 23-yard TD scamper in the fourth quarter to complete the rout.
With the swarming Salpointe front seven shutting down the running attack of Sunnyside senior Daniel Bonn and quarterback Isaiah Salazar, the Lancers didn’t need a lot of offensive support.
But they got it anyway, and as a result, Salpointe is off to its fourth 4-0 start in six seasons.
“You always want to see that zero,” said Williams, who had a rushing touchdown as well. “It’s just a great thing to see as a defense.”