Sunnyisde defenders pressured Mountain View quarterback Joey Felix (11) all night in the Citizen Spotlight Game of the Week.

  VAL CAÑEZ/Tucson Citizen

Sunnyside wins, but Salpointe looming

Tucson Citizen

Sunnyisde defenders pressured Mountain View quarterback Joey Felix (11) all night in the Citizen Spotlight Game of the Week.

The Sunnyside High School football team didn't have much luck in the red zone.
But thanks to the strong kicking of Carlos Encinas and the fleet feet of Mike Smith, the Blue Devils threw enough points on the board to down a hard-playing and visiting Mountain View squad 23-9 last night in the Tucson Citizen Spotlight Game of the Week.

The win also set up a showdown for the Blue Devils at Salpointe Catholic on Friday for the 5A South Region title. Both teams are 4-0 in league play heading into the last week.

"I think this was good for the kids. I think this helps with confidence," said Sunnyside coach Richard Sanchez. "We're excited, and we're getting better. But that was a hell of a football team we played. They're tough."

Sunnyside struggled in the first half. Two big drives stalled inside the 20, but Encinas came up with field goals of 25 and 34 yards for a 6-0 lead. He finished three of four on his attempts, also hitting a 20-yarder in the third quarter.

"Hopefully, my team gets the ball to where I need, and hopefully I make the kicks," Encinas said. "In case they need me to help win the game, I need to be ready at all times."

Sunnyside's Mike Smith (25) gets pressure from a Mountain View player in the third quarter. Smith finished with 277 yards and two TDs.

VAL CAÑEZ/Tucson Citizen

Mountain View's offense responded with a 15-play, 80-yard drive capped by quarterback Joey Felix's 1-yard sneak into the end zone.

Stephen Mercer missed the extra-point kick. But after Sunnyside lost its second fumble of the first half, Mercer nailed a 31-yard field goal as time expired for a 9-6 Mountain Lions halftime lead.

"We've just got to stop killing our drives at times," Sanchez said. "We're still capable of playing better football, and we're going to play better football."

Smith, whose big runs in the first half helped set up the field goals, found the end zone twice after the half.

On the first play of the third quarter, Smith broke through the Mountain Lions' defense for a 65-yard touchdown run. He added a 9-yard scoring run with 4:33 left in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach.

Smith finished with 277 total yards on the ground on 34 carries.

"You've got to hold your breath, because he's capable," said Mountain View head coach Wayne Jones of trying to defend against Smith. "They kept pounding him in and pounding him in, and you stop him two or three times, and the next time he can go the distance."

Sunnyside may have a question mark at quarterback in next week's game. Junior starter Sammy Olivas was injured in the opening minutes of the second half, and sophomore Jamie Valdez played the rest of the game.

Felix had a solid game at QB for the Mountain Lions, but his receivers dropped several passes. His ability to scramble and find plays kept the team in the game.

Mountain View fell to 4-5 overall and 2-2 in league play. The Mountain Lions, No. 13 in the 5A-DII power points heading into the game, will have to finish strong against Flowing Wells next week and hope they make it to state.