Salpointe Catholic looks to finish the season as 4A state champions Saturday as the fourth-seeded Lancers clash with No. 2 Scottsdale Saguaro at Arizona Stadium. Here's a look at how Salpointe Catholic's season came to this point, playing for the state crown as the visiting team in its own backyard.
By Justin Spears / Arizona Daily Star
Game 1: vs. St. Mary's (Phoenix)
Score: Salpointe Catholic 47, St. Mary's 6
Comment: The Salpointe Catholic-St. Mary's rivalry — known as the Ed Doherty Classic — dates back to 1954, but 2017 was the Lancers' year with a 47-6 victory over the Knights. With junior running back Mario Padilla out win injury, sophomore Bijan Robinson not only started but received most of the carries. Robinson, a UA and Washington target, led the Lancers to a 41-point victory.
Key stat: Robinson finished the night with 207 yards on 14 carries and four touchdowns.
Game 2: at Mountain View
Score: Salpointe Catholic 34, Mountain View 0
Comment: Padilla returned to the lineup and was sprinkled in the offense with 31 yards on 11 carries while Robinson rushed for 160 yards and two touchdowns. The offense was an engine throughout the game, but the defense was the star of the game. The Lancers racked up 77 tackles, six of them for loss. Senior linebackers Brian Corrales and Gabe Madril combined for five tackles for loss and three quarterback hurries.
Key stat: Corrales and Madril also had two sacks each.
Game 3: at Tucson High
Score: Salpointe Catholic 27, Tucson High 0
Comment: Robinson became an internet sensation for a night, hurdling over a Tucson High defender for a touchdown. Unfortunately for Robinson, he was flagged for player safety so the touchdown didn't count. After that, the Lancers maintained the running game, which wore down Tucson High's defense, leading to a back-to-back shutout.
Key stat: Robinson finished with 229 yards rushing on 19 carries and two scores.
Game 4: vs. Sunnyside
Score: Salpointe Catholic 38, Sunnyside 15
Comment: Salpointe Catholic relied on the run game through the first three games, but against Sunnyside, quarterback Rodrigo Nieto shined. Nieto completed 13 of 17 passes for 167 yards and four touchdowns. Nieto's top target was senior wide receiver Andrew Jacobs, who finished with five catches for 94 yards and two touchdowns. Padilla was out with a minor knee injury, but Robinson rushed for 173 yards in the trouble-free win.
Key stat: Nieto didn't throw an absurd amount, but finishing with a 76.5 completion percentage.
Game 5: vs. Pueblo
Score: Salpointe Catholic 42, Pueblo 0
Comment: Chris Aguirre, Gabe Madril and Joshua Pasos combined for 39 tackles in another shutout victory.
Key stat: . Aguirre had 19 tackles against Pueblo, nine of them solo.
Game 6: at Cienega
Score: Cienega 30, Salpointe Catholic 20
Comment: Robinson and Padilla were both out with injuries so the Lancers were down to Madril, who normally plays defense. Cienega quarterback and UA commit Jamarye Joiner had an off game, completing just six passes for 94 yards. Still, Salpointe Catholic didn't have enough on the road to beat the Bobcats.
Key stat: The Lancers threw for just 26 yards.
Game 7: vs. Walden Grove
Score: Salpointe Catholic 55, Walden Grove 7
Comment: How does a team bounce back from a tough loss on the road? In blowout fashion at home. Robinson returned from his ankle injury that kept him out against Cienega and rushed for 188 yards.
Key stat: Robisnon had three scores, which put him over the 15-touchdown mark on the season.
Game 8: vs. Nogales
Score: Salpointe Catholic 50, Nogales 0
Comment: Salpointe Catholic's Rodrigo Nieto completed three passes the entire game and the Lancers still won by 50 points. Nieto went 3 of 5 for 105 yards and two touchdowns.
Key stat: Padilla rushed for over 100 yards in a game for the first time this season.
Game 9: at Catalina Foothills
Score: Salpointe Catholic 36, Catalina Foothills 7
Comment: Padilla and Robinson combined to rush for 271 yards and five touchdowns. Catalina Foothills nearly made the contest competitive after holding Salpointe Catholic to three points in the third quarter, but the Lancers pulled away in the fourth behind Robinson and Padilla. Salpointe Catholic went undefeated in the region claimed the 4A Kino Region title.
Key stat: Aguirre and Pasos combined for 29 tackles.
Game 10: at Canyon del Oro
Score: Salpointe Catholic 49, CDO 21
Comment: Salpointe trailed 7-6 after the first quarter, then scored 22 unanswered points to take a 28-7 lead at halftime.
Key stat: Padilla caught two passes for 41 yards and one touchdown.
Playoffs (first round): vs. No. 13 Pueblo
Score: Salpointe Catholic 42, Pueblo 0
Comment: Nieto completed 4 of 7 passes for 130 yards and one touchdown. Rarely, Nieto would hit Jacobs or Lathan Ransom for big plays, which set up Robinson and Padilla in the red zone.
Key stat: Salpointe Catholic's defense set a school record for most shutouts in a season (five), breaking the mark set by its 2013 state championship team.
Playoffs (quarterfinals): vs. No. 5 Glendale Cactus
Score: Salpointe Catholic 49, Cactus 14
Comment: Robinson had 10 carries for 130 yards and two touchdowns in a runaway win.
Key stat: For the first time this season, Nieto was perfect, completing all four of his pass attempts for 46 yards. He finished with a quarterback rating of 127.9.
Playoffs (semfinals): at No. 1 Peoria Sunrise Mountain
Score: Salpointe Catholic 49, Sunrise Mountain 27
Comment: Robinson and Padilla both had career nights as Salpointe punched its ticket to the state title game. Robinson finished with 303 yards and Padilla added 202, and the two combined for four touchdowns.
Key stat: Robinson and Padilla averaged just over 11 yards per carry.