Sunnyside running back Manny Aguilar holds off Salpointe's Martin Rodriguez in the second half of the Blue Devils' victory.

Photos by Mamta Popat / Arizona Daily Star

It's all Blue Devils.

Stevenson too quick, Sunnyside too much in shutout of Lancers

By Sarah Trotto
Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 09.21.2007

Jovan Stevenson changed directions, evaded one tackler and didn't stop when another grabbed onto his white jersey and held on.

Stevenson, a senior tailback for Sunnyside, kept going, completing a 25-yard run.

Salpointe Catholic never got its offense rolling in the visiting Blue Devils' 17-0 victory Thursday night.

Stevenson, a 5-foot-11-inch ball of energy, finished with 138 yards on 10 carries, and five receptions for 79 yards. He also dashed 55 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.

"We're playing for the pride of Tucson," Stevenson said. "I guess we showed who has really put in the hard work and who has the emotional pride."

The big rivalry game has been played during the final week of the regular season in each of the last two years. But this time, the game arrived in Week 5. The Blue Devils are 4-0; Salpointe is 1-3.

"The confidence level is going good. We've got to keep it moving," Stevenson said. "It's not over. But it's a good step."

The Lancers played without star junior running back Christian Ramirez, who has a pulled hamstring, and without fullback Nick McDaniels, who has a sprained knee. Without its two top runners, Salpointe turned to Chris Miller, who rushed for 105 yards on 20 carries.

"Chris Miller was pretty spectacular," said Salpointe coach Dennis Bene.

"Throwing the ball, we were 8 for 21. That's not going to get it done. Offensively, we're not a very good football team. It's tough to accept because we've been pretty good on offense this decade, but it's come to a screeching halt this year. We have a lot of work in front of us."

Sunnyside coach Richard Sanchez said he was not aware Ramirez would not play, and the Blue Devils focused on stopping Salpointe's running game. The Lancers finished with 74 yards passing and 119 yards rushing.

"The kids did a pretty good job," Sanchez said. "We're still not tackling as well as we would like. I'm pretty happy with it."

All of the scoring occurred in the first half. Stevenson's 28-yard reception brought the Blue Devils to the Salpointe 24 with half a minute left before halftime. After a 5-yard catch by Stevenson, Sunnyside called timeout with 16 seconds left.

On third-and-five, Jamie Valdez found Marc Villacana over the top for a 19-yard TD pass with four seconds left. The extra-point kick gave Sunnyside a 17-0 halftime lead.

The Blue Devils took a 10-0 lead with 2:26 left in the first half on Stevenson's 55-yard touchdown run. He evaded two tacklers and changed directions during the score.

"He's gaining more confidence," Sanchez said.

Sunnyside's Hector Solis kicked a 40-yard field goal to end the Blue Devils' first drive of the game. The Blue Devils drove to the Salpointe 12-yard line, but a holding penalty pushed them back to the 22.

Sunnyside was called for 11 penalties.

"We have to cut the penalties out," Sanchez said. "We had way too many penalties."

The Lancers attempted two field goals in the third quarter at 51 and 45 yards.

Many local games were played Thursday in observance of Yom Kippur.