Salpointe is so dominant that when it wins 35-0 — against an unbeaten team ranked in the Open Division — coach Dennis Bene and his staff will have the attention of their players in an early-morning weight lifting session at the school today.
No running clock for the first time since Sept. 6 at Goodyear Desert Edge (in a 68-34 win for Salpointe). No extended use of the reserves this time. CDO, No. 7 in the Open Division and No. 3 in the 4A, was down only 14-0 at halftime against the Lancers, No. 2 in the Open Division and 4A. That was by far the closest a team has been to the Lancers at that point this season.
The Dorados (7-1 overall, 2-1 4A Kino) were only two possessions down well into the third quarter after they forced Bijan Robinson and Salpointe (7-0, 3-0) to punt on the Lancers’ first possession of the second half.
Salpointe coach Dennis Bene talks about how the Lancers worked through a tough week emotionally after the death of one of their former teammates, Corey Teixeira, this week. pic.twitter.com/dgZgGfteCE
CDO coach Dustin Peace, whose team can still be the top seed in the 4A state playoffs, said he was encouraged by the body language of his team after the 35-0 loss to Salpointe. pic.twitter.com/vuDf0vjbds
“Our body language after the game is really what I’m taking in as a positive for our team,” CDO coach Dustin Peace said. “Our kids are positive. They know our season has a long opportunity ahead of us still, so we’re going to take advantage of that.”
This was one of those rare games where both teams left the field satisfied despite a 35-0 score.
For CDO, the Dorados can take solace knowing it has a pass defense that recorded three interceptions against a normally precise Salpointe passing game and having a gritty leader at quarterback — Montana Neustadter — who took one tough hit after another but still ran fearlessly against Salpointe’s vaunted defense. The average losing margin against Salpointe was 45.3 points before last night.
CDO coach Dustin Peace on his pass defense that has three INTs against Salpointe and his tough-as-nails QB Montana Neustadter, who had 20 rushes for 24 yards. pic.twitter.com/dLU4WdxjVw
For the Lancers, as Bene put it, “We just beat a 7-0 team 35-0.” They shut out a CDO team that was averaging 32.7 points a game. The Dorados’ productive rushing attack of Neustadter, Stevie Rocker and Gavin Davis was limited to only 74 yards on 45 rushes.
But, still, there was an anxious moment in the third quarter with CDO hanging around. Bene said he could see the angst on Robinson’s face on the sideline after that punt following the first possession of the second half.
Add to that two interceptions thrown by then, costly penalties that kept CDO’s drives alive and Robinson not able to get uncorked yet at only 114 yards on 10 carries at that point.
Bijan Robinson with another record-breaking night. He ran with some added vigor tonight, much more animated. Found out later from coach Dennis Bene that it was for a former teammate who passed away this week. pic.twitter.com/HsqBHLZv1p
“He came off the sidelines mad, upset that he wasn’t getting the ball,” Bene said. “That is uncharacteristic of him. … I listened to him and the next carry he took it to the house. It’s really good to win. A kid like that who’s very, very, very unselfish who says, ‘Coach, give me a chance and I’ll spark our offense.’
“That’s what he did.”
To the tune of 263 yards rushing following breakaway runs of 69 and 80 yards in which the 6-foot, 205-pound monster of a back bound for Texas flung tacklers aside, bulled over them and sprinted free to the end zone.
He was more demonstrative after his scores, especially following the 69-yard run that put Salpointe ahead 21-0. He had more than enough in his tank to keep running after the score behind the Lancers’ bench motioning emphatically to the crowd.
Salpointe coach Dennis Bene on talented RB Bijan Robinson the last two weeks: “The fastest that I have ever seen him.” pic.twitter.com/TCLE6yx0LE
Robinson said it was a result of the “energy of the game.”
“We get hyped and keep going to the next play,” Robinson said.
Bene mentioned the unforeseen emotion exhibited by Robinson was a result of “running with inspiration for his buddy that he lost.”
A majority of Salpointe’s players attended a mass Thursday night in honor of former teammate Corey Teixeira, who graduated in 2018. He passed away Wednesday from gunshot wounds in an incident at a midtown home that is under investigation.
“They were mourning the death of one of their friends,” Bene said. “It’s been a long week for them.”
Salpointe senior captain Luke Regina, who rushes from DE and LB, with 8.5 sacks this season after producing another one tonight against CDO. pic.twitter.com/Z7p6cBt2Q3
Robinson’s long touchdown runs in the third quarter broke the Lancers out of their doldrums. With four more touchdowns in the game, giving him 34 this season, he became the state’s career scoring leader for big schools (Class 4A to 6A) with 636 points, topping the previous record of 626 held by Christian Kirk at Scottsdale Saguaro. He also broke Kirk’s big-school record of 103 career touchdowns, finishing the night with 106.
“His ability to stop on the dime and go, accelerate … it’s different than anybody ever sees,” said Peace, who coached Ka’Deem Carey at CDO. “It’s hard to simulate, hard for our kids to prepare for, any high school kid to prepare for, because that comes once every 20 years, at best.
“There at one point we had him for nine (rushes) for 96 (yards) and then he got two breakaways and as we got tired in the game, they opened it up. I commend him. He’s a great young man on top of being a great athlete and I’ll be just proud to say he’s from Tucson.”
CDO coach Dustin Peace, who coached Ka’Deem Carey, on Salpointe star RB Bijan Robinson: “He’s a great young man on top of being a great athlete. I’ll be just proud to say he is from Tucson.” pic.twitter.com/SQ8hk3TCXu
NOTABLE: NFL Network sportscaster Alex Flanagan, a Salpointe grad, was in attendance as part of the school’s homecoming festivities … Robinson’s 263 yards rushing puts him at 6,537 in his career. That is 659 yards ahead of everyone else from 4A-6A and his four rushing TDs puts him 13 ahead of the pack. … Salpointe will visit Catalina Foothills (3-5) next Friday and Robinson has two more milestones within his reach. Robinson is only 264 yards away from being the only player in the history of Arizona to rush for more than 2,000 yards in three different seasons and he is 213 yards away from passing former River Valley standout Brandon Long for second place on the career rushing list regardless of classification … Former Northwest Christian standout Casey Jahn still holds the most rushing yards in a career at 7,544 and he finished with 110 rushing touchdowns and 112 career touchdowns. Robinson is only six away from the career touchdown mark. He is 14 away from the career rushing touchdown record and is 1,007 yards away from the most rushing yards ever regardless of classification. Former Patagonia standout Arley McNeil finished his career with 688 career points. Robinson needs nine touchdowns to pass that mark. …
The Bourguets — Marana transfers now eligible — impacted the game: Salpointe backup QB Treyson Bourguet received some extended playing time and hit WR Dae han Chang with a 29-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. Coben Bourguet, a defensive back, had his first interception for the Lancers. … Salpointe DE and LB Luke Regina recorded a sack, giving him 8.5 this season, which leads all big-school players in Southern Arizona. The Lancers had five sacks in the game. … CDO S Ethan Seppala had his fifth interception of the season.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.