Competing with Salpointe Catholic would be a tall order for most teams. Considered by many to be the top team in Southern Arizona, the Lancers had no problem defeating the Canyon del Oro Dorados, 38-7, last Friday.
Cameron Denson, not a quarterback by trade, took the snaps due to an ongoing injury to starting quarterback Andrew Cota. While not a quarterback by trade, Denson is a playmaker by nature, no matter where he lines up.
Denson ran 17 times for 169 yards and three touchdowns, while he also completed nine of 11 passes with one interception for 89 yards.
While Denson is good enough to beat a lot of teams by himself, he is complemented by running back Johnny Pena. Pena rushed for 104 yards and a touchdown on 22 rushes.
The Dorados fell behind 21-0 in the first quarter, as they struggled on both offense and defense.
"We had our opportunities," said CDO coach Dustin Peace.
"We couldn't cover. We played better defense in the second half."
The Dorados defense held the Lancers to just 10 points in the second half, and it wasn't because of facing second-stringers from the opposition.
Denson and Pena played virtually the entire second half as well. No other backs carried the ball more than once for Salpointe.
Isaac Chacon stepped up with 63 of his 97 yards rushing in the second half, and a touchdown. He also also intercepted a Denson pass in the first half.
The Dorados finally got on the scoreboard in the fourth.
Feeding the ball to Chacon, they marched 80 yards on eight plays, before Chacon capped off the drive with an 11-yard rushing touchdown.
"It was big for us," Chacon said about the touchdown. "We told ourselves we wouldn't quit."
"We came out with fire," Chacon said. "We gave it our all."
Was CDO intimidated by the presence of Denson on the other side?
"I told the others," Chacon said. "We're athletes too. We can't be intimidated."
The Dorados really put themselves into a hole in the first quarter.
CDO quarterback Leo Khawam, in his first year as a starter, threw an interception that was returned 40 yards for a touchdown by Jay Williams.
That was the mistake that put the Dorados into a quick 14-0 deficit.
Khawam completed six of 20 passes for 73 yards and an interception.
They picked up a couple of first downs on their next drive, but after an option pass failed on third down, the punt put the ball on the Salpointe 25-yard line. The Dorados stopped the Lancers for a couple of no gains, before a shovel pass from Denson on third-and-10, went to Pena for a big back-breaking 27-yard gain. A few plays later, Pena ran it in from three yards to make it 21-0.
"We're sticking together," Peace said. "No excuses. We expect more from our program."
In the second quarter, the Lancers marched down the field again, and appeared like they would march in for another score. But the Dorados defense stiffened in the red zone. Denson ran for 12 yards, then completed a 13-yard pass down to the CDO 2-yard line for a first-and-goal.
However, Pena was stymied on three straight plays, forcing a fourth-and-one. But the hopes were dashed, as Denson scored on the next play.
"We came out and fought," Peace said.
"For the most part, we held our composure."
The Dorados will host Catalina Foothills on Friday at 7p.m.