Though his team took some serious graduation hits after finishing second in the state last season, Liberty coach Rich Muraco still had high hopes for his team’s season opener.
Salpointe (Ariz.) Catholic quickly dashed those hopes Saturday night.
The Lancers torched the Patriots through the air on the way to a 48-7 win in the Sollenberger Classic at Bishop Gorman.
“We just weren’t ready to play tonight, I’m not sure what the reason is,” Muraco said. “We’re just going to get better, learn from it and try to do better next week.”
After missing on his first pass attempt, Salpointe quarterback Andrew Cota completed five straight for 174 yards and two touchdowns.
His second attempt was a 70-yard scoring strike to a wide-open Kaelin Deboskie over the middle that put the Lancers up 7-0 17 seconds into the game. His next pass attempt went for a 75-yard TD to Cameron Denson.
Cota added touchdown passes of 11 and 32 yards to Deboskie before the end of the quarter as the Lancers took a 28-0 lead.
Liberty’s best chance to stem the momentum came on its first drive. After a fumble and a delay-of-game penalty to start the drive, the Patriots settled in by moving the ball inside the Salpointe 5. But Austin Fitzgerald’s 20-yard field-goal attempt was blocked by Santiago Nieto, and it was all Salpointe from there.
Cato completed 14 of 19 passes for 266 yards and five touchdowns . He also gained 71 yards on 10 carries, including a 1-yard TD. The Lancers led 42-0 at the half, and much of the second half was played with a running clock.
Deboskie, a transfer from Texas playing his first game for Salpointe, made five catches for 121 yards. Denson also had five catches for 118 yards, including an 8-yard TD in the second quarter.
“They are a really tough team to handle, and they have two very special athletes in (Deboskie) and (Denson),” Muraco said. “And their quarterback did a great job. They are going to present a lot of problems to the other teams in their state.”
Alex Flores added field goals of 35 and 37 yards in the second half for the Lancers.
Liberty’s lone scoring drive came after Salpointe led 45-0. The Patriots moved 69 yards in eight plays, capped by a 3-yard run by Brenan Adams with 7:56 remaining.
“We know we cannot give up big plays on defense,” Muraco said. “Some of that has to do with playing young guys in different positions. And some of it had to do with just getting beat by better players. Sometimes that happens.”
Contact prep sports editor Damon Seiters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4587.