Salpointe holds off Cienega’s late charge

Salpointe Catholic’s befuddled players were hushed at first and methodical after they gathered near their bench and started to sing the school’s fight song to their families and fans following the 30-22 win over host Cienega in the Thursday night affair.

The Lancers (2-0) ended just loud and strong enough, getting through the exercise, following a game that will stick in their craw this upcoming week in practice although the scoreboard showed a victory.

This had a different feel than the 56-0 win over CDO at Ed Doherty Stadium two weeks ago.

“Coming off a bye, and golly, we had the momentum going,” said Salpointe’s Eric Rogers, who is now 9-1 in his second year as head coach. “We start reading the press thinking we’re really good, and then Cienega says you’re not that good.”

“They’re a great football team,” Rogers added about Cienega. “Very well coached. My hat’s off to them. They battled. They scratched. They never gave in. They competed for four quarters.”

Cienega, playing its first home game in two seasons, was down 23-0 with less than 6 minutes left in the third quarter when junior quarterback Brayden Cherry, playing in only his third varsity game, threw two incompletions to start the Bobcats’ possession at their 30.

It was not only third down-and-10, it was more like third down-and-forget it.

Cherry threw five straight incompletions at that point and it seemed like it was just a matter of time.

Salpointe’s defense was pitching a shutout through the first six quarters of the season, outscoring CDO and Cienega — traditionally two of the better programs in Southern Arizona — by a 79-0 margin.

Salpointe’s Antony Wilhite rushed for tough yards against Cienega (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

“Short-term memory — you can’t remember those if you want to keep playing,” Cherry said of his 0-for-5 stretch. “You just have to take it one play at a time. It’s still just 10 yards — it’s not far.”

Two straight completions to 6-foot-5 and 225-pound senior tight end Brody Kallman of 14 and six yards got the ball to midfield.

A personal foul on Salpointe, ruled a helmet-to-helmet hit, moved the ball to the Salpointe 32.

Cherry, who finished 16 of 29 for 252 yards in what seemed to be the best passing performance at Cienega since the Jamarye Joiner days, completed two more passes, including a 20-yard strike to Kallman to get the ball to the Salpointe 1.

Cienega’s Brayden Cherry excelled in only his third varsity start (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Two plays later, Ritchie McCormack reached the end zone on a 5-yard run to end Salpointe’s scoreless streak with 20 seconds left in the third quarter, cutting the lead to 23-7.

Cienega “could have easily put their head down and called it a game, but they fought and fought and fought,” said the Bobcats’ first-year coach Justin Argraves, who lost 62-0 to Salpointe and Bijan Robinson the last time he faced he Lancers as Tucson’s coach in 2019.

Treyson Bourguet’s developing dual-threat style helped Salpointe put together a quick scoring drive that included his 22-yard run and two completions for 52 yards, including a 43-yard touchdown connection with Bryce Robinson to put the Lancers ahead 30-7 with 11:37 remaining.

Bourguet, who finished 12 of 19 for 213 yards with three scoring passes, said he “came out sloppy” but welcomes the challenge to improve with his time in the film room and weight room before next week’s home game against Ironwood Ridge.

He understands that his performance as a senior captain with Division I potential at the next level is a gauge for how his entire team fares.

“Coach told me I’ve gotta put this team on my back,” Bourguet said. “This team’s going to go as far as I take them. I truly believe that, but I have dudes around me … I have dudes I can rely on, especially my big five up front.”

Salpointe junior Treyson Bourguet connected on three touchdown passes and ran for another (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Cienega and Cherry responded after the Bourguet-to-Robinson touchdown with 11:37 left with a quick six-play scoring drive of 80 yards that was aided by another personal foul penalty.

In that possession, McCormack had a 16-yard run and Cherry completed two of three passes for 35 yards. His 26-yard touchdown pass to C.J. Hangartner with 9:33 left cut the lead to 30-14.

An errant snap on Salpointe’s next possession resulted in linebacker Dominic Romero recovering the fumble at the Lancers’ 12-yard line with less than 8 minutes left.

Three plays later, Cherry completed a 9-yard scoring strike to Keron Watson with 7:07 left. Cherry’s subsequent two-point conversion pass to Jimmy Diaz cut the lead to 30-22.

“He’s a junior who didn’t play last year,” Argraves said of Cherry. “He hasn’t played since his freshman year. … Tonight, I told him he did a hell of a job. He became a true varsity football player tonight. Against one of the best teams in the state, he came out and showed what he can do.”

The momentum swing for Cienega (1-2) continued after a sack by Romero forced Salpointe to punt. Elias Santana made a 35-yard return to the Lancers’ 20 with less than 6 minutes left.

But a fumble was recovered by Salpointe on the second play of that possession.

The Lancers took the clock down to 1:23 before having to punt. Cienega started its last drive at its own 23-yard line with 1:17 left.

After a delay-of-game penalty, Cherry completed a 34-yard pass to Diaz and followed that with a 26-yard strike to Hangartner to get the ball to the Salpointe 26.

Two incompletions forced a third-and-10 play. Cherry then passed to the end zone toward big-target Kallman with 31 seconds left. Salpointe cornerback Antonio Martinez leaped for the interception to thwart the comeback attempt.

“They put their biggest receiver on my side, 83, so I knew they were going to come my way because they were picking on the other corner the whole game,” Martinez said. “Once he lined up on my side, I knew they were going to come to me. Fortunately, I came up with the interception.”

Martinez mentioned the way Cienega rallied after trailing 30-7 early in the fourth quarter was like a “big punch to the mouth.”

“But we’re going to learn and grow from this and next week’s going to be better for us,” he said.

Argraves’ team has a week off before it hosts another traditionally strong program — Campo Verde, which plays at Ironwood Ridge on Friday night.

The Salpointe and Cienega coaches will be in attendance at that game scouting their next opponent.

“I hate losing more than anybody, but I couldn’t be more proud of a team with the effort they game tonight,” said Argraves, whose team lost at Sunrise Mountain 49-6 in the opener but then responded with a 34-7 win at Buena last week. “We grew up a lot tonight. We were able to see the potential that we have.

“From Week One to Week Two to Week Three, I’ve seen growth every week and that’s what we ask from them. The sun’s going to come up tomorrow and we’re going to get back to work.”

Salpointe’s Anthony Wilhite rushed for 86 yards on 19 carries and Robinson finished with three catches for 86 yards and two touchdowns against Cienega.

The Bobcats’ receiving trio of Kallman, Hangartner and Diaz combined for 179 yards. Kallman had four catches for 50 yards, Hangartner had three receptions for 57 yards and Diaz snagged three passes for 72 yards.


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. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District

To Top