Smith, Sunnyside roll over Salpointe

It was a game that may have featured as many as 10 future Division I players. One team was the reigning 4-A champions, while the other was a private school powerhouse who seems to stockpile talent. In the end it was future Wildcat Xavier Smith and the smaller Sunnyside Blue Devils who prevailed in the battle of Tucson's two best teams.

Sunnyside rolled to a 38-14 win, thanks in large part to 314 yards rushing.

In the first half Xavier Smith was used more as a decoy. He had 38 yards on his first 10 carries and it was apparent that the Wildcat recruit was the focus of the defense. While Smith was unable to break free of the swarming defense, the rest of the Sunnyside runners did some damage. Jaime Cota and David Morales did the bulk of the damage.

Cota, the Blue Devil quarterback, made things happen with his legs. On the first touchdown drive he had runs of 17, 26, five and five, the final run a touchdown. Some of the runs were by design, while others came as the senior passer freelanced on broken plays.

The second half belonged to Smith. Smith finished with 158 yards on 20 carries and one score. Smith showed his nice blend of speed and power, wearing down the Lancer defense.

He was also a factor on defense. Smith is a talented linebacker and put pressure on Sean Brevaire. Brevaire, who played for Ironwood Ridge last season, struggled mightily. Despite having a great receiving corps and a solid line, Brevaire failed to make plays. Even when he had time he missed receivers, showing a lack of touch.

What was surprising was the Salpointe play calling. The Lancer's have the biggest offensive line in town, but went to the air far more than they tried to run. Despite not having a marquee running back, the Lancers were able to get big chunks of yardage on the ground. Although a lot smaller in size, the quicker Blue Devil pass rushers were able to get pressure on Brevaire. In the second half, Salpointe went more with the run and had a lot of success which helped them get some first downs and set-up scoring opportunities. By not going with the obvious until the second half they had already hurt their effort and it was much too late when they came around to it.

Salpointe is loaded with great prospects. Senior offensive lineman Ian Brinker is physical and getting better every time we see him. The Lancers have three underclassmen who anchor the line. Kris O'Dowd is only a sophomore but he is a load. Kris showed very well on offense and defense just like he did at summer camps. He is definitely a player to watch in Southern Arizona over the next couple of years. You can expect big things and a lot of attention to come his way. Junior lineman John Romero really shined on both sides of the ball. He showed very good moves for a big man at 6-4, 275. John almost seems like a lanky 6-4, 275 and looks like he can add plenty of weight to his frame. He has great feet and after putting on another 25 pounds he may be one of the better offensive line prospects in the Southwest next fall. He also showed a great bull-rush on defense blazing a trail almost every play. Defensive tackle is not out of the question for Romero, either.

Adding to the talented underclassman for Salpointe are DE/TE Andrew Berryhill and TE/LB Ben Thiltges. Ben did not play as he has a shoulder injury but Berryhill played and was very impressive. He has a serious mean streak and gets his teammates pumped up. Ben is usually the no.1 TE but in his absence Berryhill took over and looked quite good. His future may be on defense though, where he is very tough to defend on the outside and gets to the ball-carrier with an attitude. Arizona State has already officially offered Romero, Berryhill, and Thilges.

"We went up there for the four-day summer camp and they liked what they saw so they sent us all offers in the mail," said Romero. "I, personally like ASU a lot but my passion is to play at Michigan. They have always been my favorite. I also really like Colorado and Nebraska."

Xavier Smith's touchdown put Sunnyside up 24-0 over Romero and company. The Lancers let the ensuing kickoff bounce and the Blue Devils pounced on the live ball. Cota made it 31-0 with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Nathan Vega. Cota capped off the Sunnyside scoring with a second touchdown plunge.

In addition to big linemen, Salpointe has some talented receivers. Jack Darlington is a standout possession receiver who should be garnering some bigger offers as the season progresses. Evan LeBlanc has nice speed and was the recipient of a 75-yard scoring strike in the second half. The duo could have been a lot more effective but Brevaire just wasn't on target.

After the game, future Wildcat 'X' Smith commented on his team's play. "The offensive line was opening a lot of running lanes tonight so me and the other running backs had opportunities all night to break free and make plays."

And make plays he did. Smith was unstoppable in the second half and was making all of Salpointe's future division one players look silly by blowing right by them or simply not going down upon contact.

Sunnyside has another good looking player by the name of Dominick Stevens who recently transferred to the school from a school in Compton, CA. Stevens showed that he is a very good athlete at linebacker and is a player to keep an eye on this fall.

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