Salpointe Catholic made it an Arizona sweep at the Sollenberger Classic with a decisive 48-7 win over Liberty on Saturday.
LAS VEGAS — Kaelin Deboskie couldn’t sleep Friday night. He was too busy dreaming.
Salpointe quarterback Andrew Cota not
only threw for five touchdowns, he ran
for game-high 71 yards.
“You have to dream,” said the Salpointe Catholic (Tucson, Ariz.) senior receiver and defensive back. “But I had to wake up and make it happen.”
In his first game as a Lancer, the transfer from Heritage (Colleyville) in Texas turned all that dreaming into a reality with three touchdown catches, including a 70-yard bomb on the game’s second play in a 48-7 victory over Liberty (Henderson, Nev.) in the second game of the eighth annual Barry Sollenberger Classic at Bishop Gorman High School.
It was a dreamy performance overall for Salpointe, in particular senior quarterback Andrew Cota who accounted for 337 yards and six touchdowns in just over two quarter’s worth of work. The game went to a running clock late in the second quarter.
Cota completed 13 of 18 for 266 yards, including touchdowns of 75 and 9 yards to Arizona-commit Cameron Denson, and he rushed 10 times for 71 yards and another score.
Kaelin Deboskie, Salpointe Catholic
His second completion — a 75-yard bomb to Denson — was as pretty as his first and a perfect way to kick off the new season after a very long offseason.
It set the tone for an absolutely dominating performance as the Lancers took a 28-0 lead before the first quarter ended and had a 42-0 cushion just before halftime, when the game went to a running clock.
“It was really a reward for all the sweat and effort and time we put in the weight room in the offseason,” Cota said. “It really pays off to come out and play like this.”
It was particularly rewarding to Cota, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound senior who has yet to secure a college offer despite throwing for a 3,887 yards, 36 touchdowns and just five interceptions combined the last two seasons.
Salpointe Catholic coach Dennis Bene
“What an amazing game for Andy Cota,” Deboskie said. “I knew he had it in him. He proved himself tonight. I’m glad he did. I told him before the season that he’s going to do well. It’s his senior year. He needs to chill out.”
He looked cool as a cucumber in Bene’s spread, no-huddle pistol attack. When he wasn’t hitting his dynamic receiving duo right in stride, he was running the pistol to perfection.
He showed great strength and elusiveness on the ground, setting up his own 1-yard TD sneak with a nifty 25-yard run while breaking at least five tackles.
“Nobody knows me for my running so I really worked on it in the offseason,” Cota said. “I want the defense to account for me in that regard more.”
Bene finds it amazing Cota doesn’t have a college offer yet. He said it’s coming fast. Salpointe, 12-2 last season and a Division II state semifinalist, will get some national exposure Sept. 7 when it travels to California power Crespi (Encino).
Salpointe Catholic QB Andrew Cota
“I tell people all the time that I hope he has a big year because he’s going to make a college coach a great college quarterback,” Bene said. “He’s big enough and you can see he can make every throw. He’s tough. He’s a student of the game. Our offense goes through Andrew. We don’t have this kind of success unless we have a great signal-caller.”
With now two fantastic big-play receivers — the 5-9, 170-pound Deboskie has strong offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Oklahoma State, West Virginia and Houston — plus giant possession receiver Robert Wilson (6-5, 215), Cota may approach 4,000 yards passing this season.
Deboskie has helped take the pressure off Denson (6-1, 180) and the two are very close. They make up one of the best receiving tandems in the state if not the West region.
“(Deboskie) makes a big play, then I make a big play and we’re a big-play team,” Denson said. “We live off that.”
Cameron Denson, Salpointe Catholic
So no problem that he won’t be targeted quite so often? Denson had five catches for 120 yards and two scores Saturday and Deboskie added four catches for 121 yards and three touchdowns.
“It’s a team game and we’re a family,” Benson said. “When he shines I’m happy for him and when I shine he’s happy for me. That’s how it works.”
It worked extremely well on Saturday.
“I can’t tell you how pleased I am,” Bene said. “The kids played fast and tackled well. It’s difficult to come to Las Vegas. There’s a lot going on, especially for a bunch of teen-agers. But I thought the kids played really well.”
It was a good weekend for the Arizona teams, which swept the two Nevada teams. On Friday, Mountain Pointe defeated favorite and four-time defending Nevada large-school state champion Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) 28-21.
Liberty quarterback Tyler Newman
was on the run most of the night and
showed superb athletic ability.
“I think our guys fed off that quite a bit,” Bene said. “We saw that Mountain Pointe played really, really well and I think our guys couldn’t wait to get on the field and try to match that.”
For Liberty, the Patriots can build off a strong second half in which they outscored Salpointe 7-6 by utilizing a strong run game that featured five different backs. Junior tailback Brenan Adams scored the team’s lone touchdown on a 3-yard run, capping a 69-yard drive with 7:56 remaining.
The Patriots can’t look back as their road gets even tougher — literally — traveling to the nation’s No. 10 team Centennial (Corona, Calif.) on Friday. The Patriots got some strong running from athletic quarterback Tyler Newman (four carries, 49 yards), Ethan Tuilagi and 5-10, 230-pound sophomore Calvin Tubbs.
With 14 sophomores on his roster, coach Rich Murasco’s squad has loads of promise and talent. On top of that, the program is well established with three consecutive 11-2 seasons and three regional titles.
E-mail senior writer and columnist Mitch Stephens at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @MitchMashMax
Andrew Cota with very supportive cousins Layla and Javier Chavarria and Rene and Cecilia Fragoso.