Sunnyside quarterback Jamie Valdez scoots through the Mountain Pointe defense for a touchdown and a 28-7 Blue Devils lead in the third quarter. Valdez finished with a game-high 108 rushing yards.

james s. wood / arizona daily star

Sunnyside senior Valdez bedevils Pride

QB runs for two scores, passes for two more
By Chris Davis
Special to the Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 09.08.2007

For all the attention Phoenix Mountain Pointe paid to Sunnyside's backfield on Friday night, one might have thought they'd get to the quarterback.

However, in its pursuit of slowing Blue Devils standout running back Jovan Stevenson, the Pride overlooked Sunnyside's senior signal caller.

It cost them.

Jamie Valdez rushed for a game-high 108 yards and two touchdowns in leading Sunnyside to a 35-14 victory.

"If (nobody's) open I'm going to run it," Valdez said. "That's our philosophy."

Due to poor field conditions at Sunnyside, the Blue Devils (2-0) played their "home" opener at Amphitheater and started uncharacteristically slow.

Missed tackles and a pair of interceptions plagued Sunnyside through most of the first half. But with less than two minutes before halftime, the Blue Devils marched 80 yards to take a 14-7 lead.

A 13-yard run by Manny Aguilar on third-and-four from Sunnyside's 26-yard line keyed the eight-play drive. Valdez capped it by running over two Mountain Pointe defenders for a 2-yard score.

"Offensively we're not doing a bad job. We're where we should be," Sunnyside coach Richard Sanchez said. "But defensively, that's where we need to put in more work. We're not making the tackles that previous Sunnyside teams have."

It was the defense that helped put the game away just before the end of the first half.

With less than a minute remaining, Sunnyside's Hugo Blanco forced a fumble deep in Mountain Pointe territory that the Blue Devils recovered. One play later, Valdez found Adrian Lucero for a 15-yard touchdown, and Sunnyside, up 21-7, never looked back.

"We needed something like that," Blanco said of the turnover. "The team needed to get going."

Despite limited action in the backfield during the second half, Stevenson still had 97 yards on the ground. And he found a number of other ways to contribute.

Lined up primarily at the receiver position in the third and fourth quarters, he caught two passes for 103 yards, including one for a 65-yard touchdown.

Sanchez said Stevenson's all-around play-making talent makes the offense that much more dangerous.

"He's a threat out there, and they're going to have to cover him," Sanchez said. "We've got a pretty good running game and have a lot of threats on offense."

On top of his rushing performance, Valdez threw for 137 yards and two touchdowns.