FRANCISCO MEDINA/Tucson Citizen

Sunnyside players celebrate after last night's 55-7 4A quarterfinal victory over Cottonwood Mingus. The Blue Devils face Scottsdale Chaparral next.

STATE FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS: Sunnyside's still in the hunt


Blue Devils batter visiting Cottonwood Mingus 55-7


High school football teams better take advantage of their scoring opportunities against Sunnyside.

Cottonwood Mingus didn't, and as a result it left town with a 55-7 loss to the host Blue Devils last night in a Class 4A state football quarterfinal contest.

Sunnyside (10-2) will move on to face recent nemesis Scottsdale Chaparral (12-0) in the state semifinals next week. The game will be played at a "neutral" location in the Phoenix area.

The Blue Devils have lost three straight times to the Firebirds, including the 2000 state championship game and last year's state semifinals.

Mingus, coming off a 21-20 win at Sabino last week, had a chance to stay in the game against Sunnyside. But early missed opportunities cost the Marauders.

FRANCISCO MEDINA/Tucson Citizen

Sunnyside's Xavier Smith (center) looks for some running room in the first half of last night's 4A playoff game against Mingus.
Mingus took the opening kickoff and drove 58 yards, but came up empty handed when a 21-yard field goal attempt missed.

"We came back on our next drive and did the same thing," said Mingus senior quarterback Jon Wixom of his team's failure to score early. "We just could not put it in."

Sunnyside (10-2) did not have a problem scoring. After the first missed field goal, the Blue Devils marched 80 yards, capped by Xavier Smith's 4-yard touchdown run to make it 7-0.

"They had a lot of speed. we just could not do much," said Mingus' sophomore defensive end Dalton Newell. "We had speed to the outside, but then they started punching it up the middle."

Sunnyside led 28-7 at halftime - before turning the game into a rout.

Smith led a Sunnyside ground attack that romped for 366 yards. The junior raced for 174 yards and three scores on only 15 attempts.

His third score, a thrilling 50-yard run up the sideline, broke the spirit of Mingus. It gave the Blue Devils a commanding 35-7 lead.

"We knew the team had to pick it up in the third quarter," Smith said. "We wanted to make sure they did not get any confidence."

Junior halfback David Morales scored on runs of 17 and 19 yards while sophomore Mike Smith, Xavier's younger brother, got to the end zone on a 59-yard dash in the fourth quarter.

Sunnyside quarterback Jaime Cota made things even rougher on the Marauders' defense by hitting 9 of 12 passes for 185 yards. Wide receiver Mike Quiroz grabbed six Cota throws for a game-high 125 yards.

Sunnyside's defense was also effective. Led by punishing linebackers John Leal and Alex Valencia, and defensive end Ruben Leyva, the Blue Devils limited Mingus, a potent rushing team, to 97 yards on the ground and 53 yards through the air.

Chaparral advanced to the semifinals with a 52-24 win last night against Phoenix Moon Valley. The Firebirds dropped Sunnyside to 0-2 in September with a 41-14 victory over the visiting Blue Devils, but Sunnyside has won 10 games in a row since then.

"We have played them three times, and we already know what they are going to do," said Sunnyside coach Richard Sanchez. "Anything can happen. That is why you have the playoffs."

UP NEXT:

No. 5 Sunnyside (10-2) at No. 1 Scottsdale Chaparral (12-0)

What: Class 4A semifinal

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Where: TBA, in the Phoenix area.