Ten years ago, Salpointe Catholic’s Dennis Bene coached one of the most prolific passing attacks Southern Arizona has ever seen.
Senior quarterback Tyler Graunke threw for a 5A state-record 3,372 yards and city-record 38 touchdowns while receivers Rocco Bene and Jack Darlington became the first duo in state history to each pass the 1,000-yard mark.
As Bene has gotten ready for this season, he couldn’t help but experience déjà vu.
With a trio of star senior receivers made up of UA verbal commit Cameron Denson; Kaelin Deboskie, a transfer from Colleyville, Texas; and Robby Wilson, who Bene considers to also be a college-level receiver.
“It’s really a blessing having Cameron, Kaelin and Robby on the same team,” senior quarterback Andrew Cota said. “Those are three dynamic weapons I can get the ball to any play.”
With those three going along with an experienced and hungry Cota, Bene wouldn’t be surprised if 2003 happened all over again.
“The sky is the limit for this group, it really is,” Bene said. “I’m really hoping Andrew has a big year. He’s been tremendously efficient as a quarterback and he’s really, really talented so we’re going to let him throw it around.”
The Lancers will open their season tonight at 7:30 against Henderson (Nev.) Liberty as part of the Sollenberger Classic at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas. The game will be broadcast nationally and an estimated 25 million households are expected to be tuned in.
The Star sat down with the trio — which actually earned the nickname “The Trio” sometime this summer — before the Lancers left to Vegas to find out more about them.
Who: Cameron Denson
HT/WT: 6-0, 170
40-yard dash: 4.4 seconds
2012 recap: While he only caught 37 passes for 585 yards and two scores, Denson filled in at quarterback for most of the season after Cota went down with an injury. He threw for 408 yards and three touchdowns and made a bigger impact on the ground, running for 1,026 yards and 18 touchdowns.
College outlook: Denson, one of the top players in the state, verbally committed to UA in January but has offers from seven Pac-12 schools, including ASU, Oregon State and Washington. He also has Notre Dame, Oklahoma and West Virginia after him.
Favorite NFL receiver: Andre Johnson, Houston Texans. The reason Denson wears No. 5 is because he grew up a fan of the Miami Hurricanes and watched Johnson, who wore that same number. “He was just my receiver idol growing up,” Denson said.
Coach’s call: “We’ll move Cam around to get him the ball and he will play some quarterback. He was spectacular last year so we won’t hesitate to put him back there. Usually when he gets his hands on the ball he makes something positive out of it so you have to keep feeding him.” — Bene
Who: Kaelin Deboskie
HT/WT: 5-9, 170
40-yard dash: 4.45 seconds
2012 recap: As a junior, Deboskie led Colleyville (Texas) Heritage in receiving with 1,218 yards and 10 touchdowns.
College outlook: Like Denson, Deboskie has several offers. The UA and ASU are interested along with Oklahoma State and West Virginia.
Favorite NFL receiver: Tavon Austin, St. Louis Rams. “He’s quick, fast and just makes crazy moves,” Deboskie said. “He’s just a game changer. That’s how I feel like I am.”
Coach’s call: “He’s got a multitude of talents. He’s so quick and runs great routes so I’m really excited to watch him play in space. He’s really got great hips, great feet and is a very difficult matchup one-on-one.” — Bene
Who: Robby Wilson
HT/WT: 6-5, 195
40-yard dash: 4.9 seconds
2012 recap: Wilson started to find his rhythm late in the year, catching nine passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns in the final four games.
College outlook: No offers yet but Bene said Air Force has shown a lot of interest, along with Colorado and San Diego State.
Favorite NFL receiver: Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions, and Andre Johnson. Although they might be a little faster, Wilson said he has similar “big-play” qualities to them with his height and ability to catch jump balls.
Coach’s call: “He’s a really good blocker and a difficult matchup because of his height. If you don’t cover Robby, we have no problem throwing him the ball all night.” — Bene