Sunnyside's Alfred Leon is
sandwiched by Ironwood Ridge defenders on a punt return
in the third period of a Class 5A Southern Region game.
KELLY PRESNELL /
ARIZONA DAILY STAR
Blue Devils keep eye on prize
Sunnyside claims key region victory to move to 8-0
By Sarah Trotto
Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 10.24.2009
Now that his team stands 8-0 after a decisive 35-14 victory
over Ironwood Ridge, Sunnyside coach Richard Sanchez says he
The host Blue Devils were balanced on offense — finishing
with 177 yards rushing and 178 yards in the air — and
finalized the scoring on a 62-yard touchdown pass with just
over one minute left Friday night.
And after allowing Ironwood Ridge (4-5, 3-2) to score on the
opening drive, Sunnyside's defense clamped down and snagged
Then Sanchez found something to dissect.
"Just after that first drive, they came out right away, and
for lack of better words, caught us with our pants down,"
said Sanchez, whose team improved to 4-0 in the 5A Southern
Region with two games left. "After that, they started
"Our kids just had to start playing. I don't know why they
didn't start playing at the start, but that's kind of been a
trait of ours we're trying to correct."
The Nighthawks, No. 9 in the power ratings, scored their
second touchdown with 2:20 left in the game on Adrian
Brahler's 2-yard run to cut Sunnyside's lead to 28-14. But
the Blue Devils roared back on their next drive, as Perry
Shazier found Chris Howard for a 62-yard touchdown pass.
Ironwood Ridge finished with 316 yards.
"Sunnyside's got a great defense," said Nighthawks coach
Matt Johnson, whose team started the season 1-4. "They're
physical. They're fast.
"They're well-coached and they're going to make adjustments.
We had our fingertips on some footballs and were close (on
dropped passes), and that's the way it goes."
For Sunnyside, which is No. 5 in power ratings, Shazier
completed 10 of 21 passes for 178 yards and four touchdowns.
Kevin Harrigan finished with 57 yards on 14 carries and
scored a 3-yard run. Manny Vera finished with 53 yards on 14
carries. Alfred Leon caught touchdown passes of 25 and 10
yards. Chris Howard caught a 31-yard scoring pass.
"I'd like to see us play consistently, offensively and
defensively," Sanchez said. "To play a complete game. We
came out in the third quarter and didn't look as sharp as I
"We don't have one back. If one doesn't get it done, we put
in another, so however it's going to get done, it has to get
Last year, Ironwood Ridge beat Sunnyside 24-17 in the state
Sunnyside capitalized on the Nighthawks' mistakes to take a
21-7 lead at halftime. Shazier found Howard for a 31-yard TD
for a 21-7 lead with 1:16 left before intermission, after a
penalty pushed Sunnyside back 10 yards on the previous play.
The Blue Devils started the drive from the Ironwood Ridge 30
after the Nighthawks fumbled the punt snap, recovered, and
then threw an incomplete pass on fourth-and-three.
Sunnyside went ahead 14-7 with 3:42 left in the half after
the Blue Devils had an interception. Shazier hit Leon for a
10-yard touchdown pass.
The Blue Devils tied the game 7-7 on a 25-yard touchdown
pass to Leon on their first drive of the game. Leon hauled
in the pass between two defenders.
On the opening drive of the game, Ironwood Ridge scored on
Brahler's 21-yard touchdown run at 9:58.
Brahler finished with 122 yards rushing on 17 carries and
two touchdowns. Austin Ballard had 83 yards receiving.