Tucson High School Sports

No. 1 Salpointe Fighting Injuries but Still Unbeaten After 28-12 Win Over No. 15 Sahuaro

Salpointe Catholic coach Dennis Bene has a couple of more supplies in mind for his team’s medical trainer following the No. 1 Lancers’ 28-12 home victory over No. 15 Sahuaro last night in a significant 4A Kino clash.

“I feel like we’re being held together with Elmer’s glue and duct tape, you know?” Bene said. “We’re just banged up. But the kids’ effort is outstanding and we’re playing really hard. I couldn’t be more proud of our effort.”

With his star running back Bijan Robinson on the sideline nursing a sprained ankle, and fellow back Mario Padilla not being able to play in the second half last night because of a lingering groin injury, Bene is taking the cautious approach with both.

Bene said he will know by midweek if Robinson can play at Casa Grande on Friday. Salpointe is 6-0 overall and 1-0 in the 4A Kino Region while Casa Grande is 5-1 and 1-0.

The game last night included the jersey retirement of former Salpointe lineman Kris O’Dowd, who went on to play for USC. The Trojans’ long snapper Jake Olson, who is blind, was a guest of O’Dowd’s at the game. His presence was part of the Game for the Greater Good theme including the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind.

Padilla, who was out the previous couple of weeks with his injury, gained 60 yards on 10 carries most in the first 20 minutes of the game. Padilla, who had a 2-yard scoring run in the first quarter, held himself out the last stretch of the second quarter and all of the second half.

“My coaches were all for it, they have my back. They understood why I was taking the precautions I was,” said Padilla, who added he will “see how things go” about being ready to play at Casa Grande after going through some rehab and rest this week.

One player still going strong, a very valuable one, for Salpointe is wideout and safety Lathan Ransom, who was utilized as a cornerback last night on Sahuaro’s Amir Hunter-Huggins, who Ransom calls a “monster.”

Hunter-Huggins, a 6-foot-1 senior target who is destined to play in college, was limited to one reception for eight yards.

“He’s a baller so I just had to go wherever he went all game and press him,” said Ransom, who has two interceptions this season. “That’s what I’m comfortable at.”

Ransom is known for his defensive prowess, but he was one of the game’s offensive standouts along with his quarterback Devin Green (6 of 10 for 142 yards) and Sahuaro’s bullish running back Cameron Williams (106 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries).

An unlikely standout, Salpointe’s fifth running back in the pecking order, sophomore David Cordero finished with 118 yards on four carries, including a 65-yard sprint to a touchdown in the third quarter. He got his opportunity with Robinson and Padilla out and Bene wanting to try more backs in addition to Dae han Chang and Julian Robles.

Ransom finished with four catches with 127 yards and two touchdowns. This performance came after Ransom was his harshest critic last week dropping a couple of passes in the Lancers’ win over Tucson High.

“My head was completely out of it,” Ransom said. “It was good to come back this week and Devin threw me some good balls. It was good to come back this week and make up for last week.

Green said his 87-yard scoring strike on a slant pattern to Ransom came from “muscle memory.”

“It was a third down, a crucial third down,” Green said. “We had him on a slant and we had him on a read on the linebacker. We practiced it a bunch of times in practice. It was just muscle memory and then he caught the ball and took off.”

Sahuaro (5-2, 1-1) will host No. 9 CDO (5-1, 1-0) on Friday in another important 4A Kino matchup.


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.

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