Sunnyside left no doubt as to who is the best football team in Tucson, cruising to a 49-7 victory on their home turf over Ironwood Ridge Friday night. The Blue Devils offense exploded for 525 yards against a Nighthawk defense that had been allowing only 170 yards per game. Sunnyside had all facets of their game finely tuned and ready for the game in which the winner would likely be crowned region champ. IR was able to produce 300 yards of total offense but SS made the plays when they needed to the most.
The Blue Devils started out hot and never looked Back. After forcing IR to punt on their opening possession, SS took over at midfield and two plays later Jaime Cota found George Garza open down the sideline for a 38 yard pass to the 6 yard line. Cota then connected with Anthony Duarte for a 6 yard score. This would be the formula for the game. Ride the strong arm of Cota and let him lead the way. The teams would trade possessions and SS got the ball back following a great punt return to the IR 25. Cota hit running back David Morales down the middle for a 25 yard score on the next play. The score was now 14-0 midway through the second quarter. Just as IR was starting get things rolling, SS DB Wally Altamirano ran down a Nighthawk receiver on 50 yard screen play and swiped the ball from his hands as SS would recover. Cota worked the ball down field through the air and found Nathan Vega for a 2 yard td to end the half with SS up 21-0.
The second half read much like the first as Cota connected with Garza for a 16 yard score and added another td of his own on a QB sneak from a yard out. Tailback Xavier Smith did not play the entire second half because of an ailing injury but he quietly put together a great first half with 110 yards on 9 carries. Smith chipped away at the Nighthawks defense opening the pass game for Cota and the SS receiving corps. IR finally got on the board midway through the fourth when QB Ryan Crawford hit Garrett Bedford for a 9 yard td. Crawford finished the game 10 of 20 for 181 yards and a TD for the Nighthawks. SS added its last score late in the fourth as backup Anthony Duarte found Altamirano on a fade route on 4th and 7 for a td.
Bottom Line: Sunnyside meets a 7-1 Rincon team next week for the region title as they continue their quest for another state championship. The Blue Devils have won 35 straight region games since 1998 and look to keep the streak intact.
Game Balls: Cota, 26 of 31 for 318 yds and 4 tds. Not a bad night of work right there. Garza had a great game both ways and finished with 129 yds on 8 catches. Lastly, the Blue Devils O-line played fantastic giving Cota all the time he needed to find open receivers and they dominated Ironwood Ridge in the trenches paving the way for Sunnyside.