Sunnyside's Mike Smith (25) jumps over some players and evades a tackle by Sandra Day O'Connor's Chad Duncan (33). Smith had 25 rushes for 171 yards for four touchdowns.

RENEE BRACAMONTE/Tucson Citizen

Friday, November 11, 2005

Sunnyside struts: Smith scores 4 TDs, eyes Centennial



CODY DAVID
Tucson Citizen

Glendale Sandra Day O'Connor found out last night what Tucson teams already knew: It's tough to stop Sunnyside's Mike Smith.

The senior running back ran for 171 yards and four touchdowns on 25 carries to help lead the Blue Devils to a 35-17 win in the first round of the 5A Division II high school playoffs.

No. 6-seeded Sunnyside will travel to face No. 3 Peoria Centennial in the quarterfinals Nov. 18.

"Each week is getting tougher," Sunnyside coach Richard Sanchez said, "and we just hope we can advance."

Smith's first score set the tone, and it happened nine seconds into the game after Sunnyside's Patrick Medina intercepted an Ian Michels' pass. Medina was pushed out of bounds after a 24 yard return, setting up a one-yard TD plunge by Smith.

The Blue Devils took a 14-0 lead after Sammy Olivas hooked up with Medina from 15 yards out, then increased their lead when Smith scored on a 21-yard run.

O'Connor cut the lead to 21-7 with some trickery. Michels handed the ball off to Shane Anderson on a sweep, who then threw downfield to a wide open Alex Birnbrich for an 85- yard touchdown.

"They did what they had to do to stay in the game," Sanchez said of O'Connor, which scored again before halftime on a 52-yard screen from Michels to Anderson.

Sunnyside came out from the locker room and quickly ended any O'Connor momentum with a five-play, 56-yard drive culminating with a 4-yard Smith TD to make it 28-14.

O'Connor put together an impressive ensuing drive, but settled for a 37-yard field goal from Jesus Leal. The Sunnyside defense gave up no points after that.

"We moved some kids around defensively and created different looks up front," Sanchez said.

The Blue Devils gave up 220 passing yards, but Michels completed only 9 of 20 passes and was intercepted three times.

Sunnyside put the game out of reach after Smith broke loose for a 48-yard TD with just over eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

The Blue Devils finished with 419 yards total offense.