Wide receiver/linebacker Patrick Medina celebrates with Sunnyside teammates after their 22-20 triumph over Salpointe clinched the Class 5A Southern Region championship.

  chris richards / Arizona Daily Star

Devils rally, win title

Lancers' loss is their first of the season
By Patrick Finley
Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 11.04.2006

It was the kind of play you see at the end of a football movie. The flashy play that wraps up a game — and season — in Hollywood fashion.

Sunnyside's version occurred with 7:31 left in Friday night's game, rallying the Blue Devils from an 11-point halftime deficit to snatch the 5A Southern Region title from Salpointe Catholic 22-20.

The Blue Devils were leading 16-14 when defensive back Marcus Laverty intercepted a Max Fritz pass over the middle.


Taking over at the Salpointe 29-yard line, Sunnyside ran for two yards and threw for eight, setting up first-and-10 at the 19.

Sammy Olivas crawled under center and took the snap. He faked a dive up the middle to running back Jovan Stevenson, who finished with 118 yards on 24 carries. Laverty, who had run a reverse earlier in the game, ran toward Olivas, who faked the end around.

Olivas looked up the field and saw wide receiver Anthony Aguilar on the right sideline.

Olivas — who finished 7 for 13 for 146 yards — threw a bullet into the end zone for a touchdown.

"They weren't expecting that," Sunnyside coach Richard Sanchez said.

Maybe the Lancers should have. Sunnyside ran a version of the play last week.

"We've seen them overpursue so much and we wanted to go after it," Olivas said. "It was open today and we ran it correctly."

The Blue Devils, however, missed the extra point and led by only eight.

Salpointe then rallied down the field on the next possession, spurred by a 69-yard catch-and-run by wide receiver Jacob Hauptman. Fritz, who struggled with the pass in the second half, ran a planned quarterback dive up the middle for a 6-yard touchdown.

But his two-point conversion failed when his pass to Hauptman fell incomplete.

Sunnyside fans then stormed the field to celebrate the title as time expired.

At halftime, it was hard to fathom that the Blue Devils (8-2, 5-0) had a chance to break Salpointe's (9-1, 4-1) four-year region winning streak. Sunnyside fumbled four times, losing three, in the first half alone.

And they trailed 14-3 with less than two minutes left in the half. The play they made then saved the game.

The Lancers were facing a first-and-goal at the 9 when Fritz dropped back and looked for wide receiver Matt Ransom in the end zone. But his throw was low and intercepted by Alex Leon.

Leon had fumbled twice earlier in the game before missing the second half with a foot injury.

"If they had scored, it would have been 21-3," Sanchez said. "That was a great play."

Entering the game, Fritz had thrown 18 touchdown passes, the most in Southern Arizona. He finished 8 of 17 for 147 yards and two touchdowns.

Ransom finished with three catches for 43 yards and one touchdown.

The Sunnyside win meant more than playoff jockeying. It was a chance for the Devils to get revenge. Last year, the Lancers won the 5A Southern Region title with a 27-16 win over Sunnyside.

The Blue Devils trailed 21-2, but rallied to within five points with less than five minutes left. But Salpointe's Levess Eafon sacked Olivas to seal the win.

This time, it was Olivas, who finished with three touchdowns, all to Aguilar.

"That school was on my mind since last year, ever since they took the region," Olivas said. "Our confidence is boosted right now."

On StarNet: Listen to a podcast of Friday night's Sunnyside-Salpointe game at prepsports.azstarnet.com

● Bryan Rosenbaum contributed to this story.