Sunnyside High School's Jovan Stevenson rushed for 86 yards on 17 carries against Avondale Westview.

RENEE BRACAMONTE/Tucson Citizen

Defense leads way as Blue Devils win


JESSIE VANDERSON
Tucson Citizen

The Sunnyside High School football team's defense did not give an inch.
 

Visiting Avondale Westview hurled its power-running attack straight into the heart of Sunnyside's vaunted defensive unit Friday night and was bounced from the Class 5A-Division II playoffs.
 

"We have some tough fighters. Our kids are in good condition," said Sunnyside coach Richard Sanchez, whose team won 13-3.
 

The No. 2 seed Blue Devils will play No. 11 Tempe Marcus Niza in a semifinal game at 7 Friday night at Flowing Wells High.
 

Marcus de Niza defeated defending state champ North Canyon 13-10 Friday night.
 

The Blue Devils limited the Knights to 118 yards rushing a week after Westview ripped visiting Marana Mountain View for 422 yards on the ground in a 35-19 win.
 

"No one has been able to handle our running attack like that before," Westview halfback Nate Jones said.
 

Westview ran the football a bruising 43 times and attempted to pass on only six occasions. The Knights completed four passes for 28 yards.
 

Sunnyside capitalized on a fumbled snap by Knights quarterback Albert Lizarraga in the first quarter to get on the scoreboard first.
 

The Blue Devils' defense recovered the fumble at the Sunnyside 45.
 

Senior quarterback Sammy Olivas then guided a 55-yard drive that the Blue Devils capped with a 4-yard scoring run by junior halfback Jovan Stevenson in the first minute of the second quarter.
 

Westview cut the lead to 7-3 by halftime, thanks to a 39-yard field goal by Adam Garcia midway through the second quarter.
 

Sunnyside forced the Knights to punt on the first offensive drive of the third quarter.
 

A poor boot from punter Brian Conley allowed Sunnyside to take over the ball at the Knights' 35.
 

Four plays later, Olivas powered his way into the end zone from the 1-yard line on a quarterback sneak to end the scoring. A big completion from Olivas to senior wide receiver Anthony Aguilar on fourth-and 12 from the Knights' 18 kept the drive alive.
 

"I had to get that pass because we needed to score," said Olivas, who connected on 7 of 11 throws for 58 yards.
 

Sunnyside controlled the clock with the running of Stevenson and reserve halfback Marco Villacana, who took over for the junior scatback when a sprained left ankle forced him from the game in the third quarter.
 

Stevenson led all rushers with 86 yards on 17 attempts. Villacana logged 56 yards on 11 carries.
 

Sanchez expects another physical challenge next week. The Blue Devils start only one player on the defensive front who weighs more than 205 pounds.
 

"It will be more of the same. We are looking for another battle," Sanchez said.