Sunnyside running back Manny Aguilar steps away from Mesa Desert Ridge defensive back Josh Tristan during the Blue Devils' lopsided victory at Sunnyside High School.

greg bryan / Arizona Daily Star

No. 2 Sunnyside dominates Desert Ridge

Devils' Aguilar runs for 84 yards in first half before injury
By Peter J. Stevenson
Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 11.11.2006

Sunnyside coach Richard Sanchez can't recall how many times he has been to the playoffs in his 13 years as the Blue Devils' coach.

But he won't hesitate to talk about Sunnyside's three trips to the state championship game.

"That's our concern," he said before Friday's first round of the 5A-II state tournament against No. 15 Mesa Desert Ridge.

"Our goal every year is to get to that game and try to win it."

The second-seeded Blue Devils began their annual quest with a convincing 54-14 blowout victory over the visiting Jaguars on Friday.

Sunnyside (9-2) started off somewhat sluggish, punting the ball away after three quick downs on its first possession.

The Blue Devils began to ignite halfway through the first quarter when running back Manny Aguilar had runs of 10 and 20 yards on a 67-yard drive that set up a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Sammy Olivas. It gave them a seven-point lead, and they never let go.

Aguilar finished with 14 carries for 84 yards. He was helped off the field after injuring his leg in the first half and did not return.

In the second quarter, Sunnyside began to build some steam when kicker Jesus Ortiz nailed a 28-yard field goal. The score was set up after linebacker Zach Holmes squashed a drive by Desert Ridge by recovering a fumble near midfield.

On Sunnyside's next possession Olivas caught the Jaguars' defense off guard. On third-and-one at the Desert Ridge 48-yard line, Olivas passed to wide receiver Patrick Medina down the left side for a 52-yard TD. He had four catches for 112 yards.

"I told my line, 'Give me some time and we'll get this play off and score,' " said Olivas, who finished with 10 completions for 172 yards.

"My line stepped up to the challenge, and we pulled it out."

The score gave Sunnyside a 17-0 lead.

Desert Ridge (4-7) tried to answer with 1:45 left in the first half when quarterback Clay Busch threw a 42-yard bomb to Ryan Burchett that got his team to the Sunnyside 6-yard line.

But Holmes played spoiler yet again. He intercepted Busch's pass in the end zone to secure his team's shutout heading into the break.

In the third quarter, the Devils' Jovan Stevenson sliced through the Jaguars' defense for TD runs of 25 yards and 19 yards. He had 8 carries for 72 yards.

Ortiz also added a 30-yard field goal that gave his team a 34-0 lead heading into the final 12 minutes.

The Jaguars finally scored in the fourth quarter when Busch found Chris Heldore with a 14-yard scoring pass.

With 46 seconds left to play, Busch connected again with a 55-yard strike to Burchett down the right sideline for his team's second score.

But at that point the outcome was decided.

Sunnyside racked up three more TDs in the fourth that secured the win.

Desert Ridge coach Jeremy Hathcock said he is looking toward the future despite his school's loss in its first playoff berth.
"Nobody shut down our offense like that all year," he said. "This year we tried to field a team … and now we're starting to build a program."