It was going to be tough, going against the top team in the state. And the Salpointe Lancers fell just short of winning another state title in the 4A conference, this time falling to perennial powerhouse Scottsdale Saguaro.
Saguaro won their record 5th straight state championship. Lancers RB Mario Padilla called Saguaro "the definition of 4A football in the state of Arizona", earlier this week at practice.
The game was scoreless heading in to the 2nd quarter, before Sabercats QB found Logan Pettijohn for a 36 yard touchdown. A Rodrigo Nieto interception set up another Sabercats TD, and Salpointe trailed 14-0 after 2 quarters.
Mario Padilla came in to play quarterback to try to spark the offense, but Padilla was intercepted by Saguaro. He immediately made good on it, but returning the ensuing punt 99 yards for a touchdown to finally get Salpointe on the board.
In the 4th quarter with 8 minutes remaining, Salpointe's star running back, Bijan Robinson, ripped of a huge 39 yard run that seemed to spark the Lancers offense. But the drive stalled after and high snap and untimely slip by Nieto to keep the Lancers off the board anymore.
Salpointe head coach Dennis Bene said after: "It's life lessons, but this is a great accomplishment on their part. Even though we came up short, the work they put in the effort, their commitment, is unparalleled." Robinson added, " I'm real proud. What we've done from january to now, it's been a hard time trying to get here. We made some mistakes in the season, but you know we bounced back and trying to get here was hard but we tried to win."
Robinson is only a sophomore, and rushed for 159 yards today, totally 2,000 for the season. The UA target will be a big part of Salpointe's run to get back to the title game next year.