Sunnyside receiver Chris Howard says
facing a perennial state playoff team helps give the
Blue Devils a feel for where they stand on the state
level and "how we'll play at that level" in the
BENJIE SANDERS /
ARIZONA DAILY STAR
Devils eager to face top talent
By Chris Davis
Special to the Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 09.17.2009
If there's one mantra that Sunnyside football coach Richard
Sanchez expects his teams to live by year in and year out,
it is continual improvement.
Each practice, each quarter, each game serves as an
opportunity to prepare for the culmination of what his teams
play for each year — an appearance in the state title game.
With that, comes the unwavering desire to match up against
the best high school football teams Arizona offers.
Tonight is no different. The Blue Devils (2-0) host
perennial 5A power Mesa Mountain View at 7 p.m.
"We always want to make a run for the championship, and if
you don't play those kind of schools and teams that have
consistently been in the championship game, then you're just
playing mind games with yourself," Sanchez said.
Tonight's game will help Sunnyside gauge the type of team it
is and what it needs to do to reach that final game.
Blue Devils receiver Chris Howard says playing the state's
top talent in the regular season helps once the playoffs
"We'll already know what kind of competition we'll be facing
once the postseason starts and how we'll play at that
level," he said.
Here are three things that will be key in deciding the
A Mountain View rebound
Mountain View (1-1) comes to the south side on the heels of
a 42-10 drubbing at the hands of Scottsdale Chaparral — what
looks like one of the program's worst losses in recent
Sanchez said he and his coaching staff attended that game
and beg to differ.
"They're a good team," Sanchez said of Mesa Mountain View.
"Mountain View went for it on fourth down just across the
50-yard line a couple of times and didn't make it. That gave
Chaparral a short field, and they scored.
"If you take away the field position I think it would've
been a lot closer ball game."
As if tonight's game wasn't a tall enough order for the Blue
Devils, they will be facing an incredibly focused and
motivated Toros squad looking for redemption.
In its first two games this year, Sunnyside had trouble
preventing big plays for touchdowns. The only way opposing
teams were able to score on the Blue Devils was if they were
well outside the red zone.
"I think the shortest score against our defense was about 40
yards," Sanchez said. "We gave up three to Nogales, and
those were beyond the 50, and we gave up three against North
Canyon, and those were from beyond the 40.
"And those plays happened after we had stopped them, and it
The Toros began the season with only four players returning
from last year's team who had significant playing
experience. All of them play on the offensive side of the
However, one of those returners is fullback Jacom Brimhall.
As a junior, Brimhall rushed for more than 1,600 yards while
leading the Toros to the No. 1 seed in the 5A-I playoffs. As
a focal point of the offense, the Blue Devils are well aware
they will have to slow him down.
"They run a lot of wedge up the middle," Howard said.
Brimhall "is fast and he bounces to the outside, so that's
something we'll have to work a lot on containing."
With a completely new defensive squad, Sunnyside will look
to take advantage of this inexperienced unit that gave up 28
first-half points to Chaparral.
Howard believes that advantage could come through the air.
"From what we watched on film, I think we'll have an
advantage passing the ball," he said.