Sunnyside's Mike Smith (25) was just getting started when he scored on this 80-yard kickoff return. The running back added 238 yards rushing and four more touchdowns in Sunnyside's 51-20 win over Sabino.  

RENEE BRACAMONTE/Tucson Citizen

Mr. Smith goes to the end zone: RB's 5 TDs carry Sunnyside over Sabino



MICHAEL CACCAMISE
Tucson Citizen 

What many observers thought could have been Sabino's coming-out party turned into a Sunnyside shindig.
The Blue Devils, with a huge performance from Mike Smith, stunned their highly rated visitors and finished with a 51-20 rout in the Tucson Citizen's Spotlight Game of the Week.

"We won the game against a quality program. They're a good team," said Sunnyside coach Richard Sanchez. "I'm happy for the kids. They've worked so hard for so long, and those other games, we've let them slip. Tonight we were determined not to let it slip."

Class 5A-II Sunnyside came into the game with a 1-2 record, with both losses coming after leads were blown in the second half. Sabino, now 3-1, entered ranked as the No. 2 Class 4A-I team in the state and was looking for a big win to make a statement against a big-name program.

But the Blue Devils (2-2) quickly made it clear that unblemished records and high rankings don't mean diddly squat.

The first snap of the game went over Sabino quarterback Justin Randall's head and ended up as a safety for a 2-0 Blue Devils lead. 

Sunnyside's Smith returned the ensuing kickoff 80 yards for a score.

And Sabino's second drive didn't go any smoother, as Blue Devil Marques Laverty sacked Randall, then intercepted him on the next play and returned it 30 yards for a score.

The quick succession of big plays gave Sunnyside a 16-0 lead with fewer than three minutes gone in the game. And the Blue Devils' offense had yet to take the field.

"You give a team 16 points before your defense even takes the field and you're not going to win many football games," said Sabino coach Jay Campos. "That's on us. Sunnyside came out hard, and they played hard early on, and we made a lot of mistakes.

"If a football team wants a chance to win, you've got to come out ready to win."

Smith didn't make it any easier on Sabino. The senior running back outshined Sabino's touted duo of Glyndon Bolasky and Brooks Reed. In addition to his kickoff return for a score, Smith ran for 238 yards and four touchdowns. Bolasky finished with 89 yards and a touchdown, and Reed had 126 yards and a touchdown.

Sabino's Codi Harshman tries to corral a pass as Sunnyside's Jovan Stevenson defends in Sunnyside's 51-20 victory. 

"We came out here, and everybody doubted us, and coach pushed us hard," Smith said. "We've just got to keep pushing ourselves and get better."

Smith added touchdown runs of 47 and 7 yards to make it 30-0 midway through the second quarter.

Sabino got on the board with 2:30 left before the half with a 15-yard pass to Jakob Stallings, but Sunnyside quarterback Sammy Olivas hit Patrick Medina for a 36-yard touchdown less than two minutes later to make it 37-7 at intermission.

Bolasky and Reed scored in the second half with runs of 31 and 15 yards, respectively.

But it didn't matter much, because Smith also found the end zone twice after the break.

"(Smith has) played big in all four games, It's just nobody has recognized it because of the losses," Sanchez said. "But he's a good player. He's a good running back, he runs hard and plays with a lot of heart."

Despite the big lead, Sanchez wasn't about to rest until the game's end.

"I still wasn't feeling too good until the end of the fourth quarter. I started looking up and seeing how many times we had to score," he said. "I was still hoping we would have had a stronger finish than we did."

Sunnyside will have its hands full next week when it hosts power Mesa Mountain View. The game will be aired live on Cox Channel 7.