Sergey Shayevich /
Arizona Daily Star
running back Philo Sanchez runs towards several Phoenix Greenway
defenders. Sanchez's 41 carries in the game set a state record.
He finished with 184 yards.
Sunnyside routs Greenway
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 9, 2001
With the Tucson Sunnyside mariachi band's sweet sounds serenading
them from the corner, south Tucson's favorite family made their way
toward each other at midfield of Sun Devil Stadium.
There was coach Richard Sanchez, the man who left the helm of
Sunnyside's five straight wrestling state champions to construct a
football power out of scraps.
At the other end of a long embrace was his son, Philo, the tailback
who put the finishing touches on dad's pet project.
With Sanchez's 184 rushing yards, Sunnyside overwhelmed Greenway
28-6 for its first Class 4A football championship Saturday.
"We started it together, and we had this dream since he took
over," said Philo Sanchez, who set an all-class state title game
record with 41 carries. "Even though people told him it would be
too big of a job and that it couldn't be done, we knew we could do
Sunnyside, finishing at 13-1 just like the 2000 runner-up, walked
off as the winningest big-class Arizona program of the past two years
after coming into the game with a sense of belonging. It took 19
seconds to establish that as Greenway (11-3), the 10th seed playing in
its first title game in the school's 26 years, gave away seven points
in the first of many costly early missteps.
After a nice Ben Ali kick return to the Greenway 37, Sunnyside
cornerback Joey Warren read a quick-drop hitch and picked off the pass
for a 41-yard touchdown return that pulled the seat from under
Greenway before its fans even got settled. Greenway coach Mike Brown
ripped himself for even making the call.
"I think it hurt the team more than it hurt me," Brown
It would not be the last time Greenway's alignment went awry.
There were miscommunications on early passes, handoffs and pass
coverage. There were two dropped passes and tardy throws on two
potential touchdowns. All this came in a first half that Greenway
still nearly made tight.
Shayevich / Arizona Daily Star
Sunnyside 28, Greenway 6
Sunnyside Blue Devil teammates hoist the 4A State Championship
trophy Dec. 8, 2001.
Warren, who broke up two first-half passes in the end zone, again
put Sunnyside in the end zone when he beat two defensive backs on
fourth-and-7 for a 32-yard score and 13-0 lead midway through the
But Greenway came up empty on two drives into Sunnyside territory,
the last one ending on a third-down incompletion from the 11 on the
half's final play.
"Everything was a step off," Brown said. "Playing on
a Saturday was different. Our kids were dying. It wasn't the
conditioning, but we just weren't used to playing in the sun."
Any window for Greenway's moment in the sun was shut at the start
the second half. Behind a dominating line and Sanchez's killer
cutbacks, Sunnyside opened the third quarter with a 15-play, 61-yard
drive that ate up 8:02, thanks to 12 Sanchez runs.
"I thought it would be a lot tougher," Sunnyside guard
Ned Norris said. "We just stuck it to them."
Sunnyside's defense, overhauled from last year and then again after
a season-opening loss to Scottsdale Saguaro, held Greenway to 3 yards
a rush and 7-of-22 passing. It was not hailed like the 2000 unit that
gave up seven points a game, but it had a shutout going with Greenway
only totaling 100 yards until a late TD drive.
But that couldn't keep the smiles off the faces that were forlorn a
year ago. Sunnyside quarterback Victor Cuñes showed off the
championship ring he had drawn on his finger, promising not to wash it
and to put the real one on a different finger.
"I was sitting down crying last year, and now I'm standing
here eating candy, just amazed at what my team did today," Cuñes