Rillito Downs: September 4-6
Youth football teams from Tucson, Phoenix, New Mexico, Nevada and California took part in the Arizona Kickoff Classic this past weekend at the historic Rillito Downs.
The Tucson Youth Football and Spirit Federation (TYF) was the host organization and Flag, 8U, 9U, 10U, 11U, 12U and 13U games were held.
The 12U Sahuarita 49ers took on the Goodyear West Valley Pirates on Sunday morning and the Pirates proved too much down the stretch and pulled away with a 27-7 win.
Steven Ortiz led the way with 172 yards receiving on five catches and a 92-yard interception return. Ortiz scored all four touchdowns for the Pirates.
His first score came on a 53-yard pass from Gavin Garcia to put the Pirates up 6-0 with the conversion coming up short as time expired in the first quarter.
The 49ers responded with a 60-yard scoring drive with most of it coming off of a 35-yard run by Jeremy Lai. Christian Dicochea ran in the extra point to give Sahuarita a 7-6 lead. Under the rules of the classic, a conversion run is worth one point and a pass is worth two.
“I saw the wedge open up and I knew I had it,” Lai explained. “I just ran for it.”
The Pirates took the lead for good on their next drive after Garcia found Ortiz on an 11-yard TD pass. Garcia hit Sebastian Fiery for the 2-point pass conversion and the Pirates led 14-7.
The 49ers drove down to the 13-yard line but Ortiz stepped in front of a pass at the 2-yard line and turned up field and scored on the interception some 98 yards later to put the Pirates up 20-7 (pass failed).
The game-saving return took a lot out of Ortiz however.
“I ate too much junk last night and I passed out after I scored,” Ortiz said. “But I got up after a few moments and felt good.”
Ortiz caught a 55-yard TD pass in the first drive of the third quarter and Garcia ran the extra point in to give the Pirates a 27-7 lead. The teams played even the rest of the way.
Garcia finished with 7-12 for 186 yards passing with Ortiz collecting 172 yards of those yards plus all three touchdowns.
The Pirates were limited to only 10 yards rushing.
Lai had 52 yards rushing to lead the 49ers. Gabriel Levy added 20, Sebastian Felix had 19 and Dicochea had 12. In all, the 49ers finished 114 yards rushing but each yard was a battle.
“We have a lot of good players and we hit hard,” Lai added. “We play hard.”
Lai is correct. Each yard came after punishing hits and the Pirates scored on big plays. The rest of the season looks good for the 49ers.
On the other side, Ortiz wants to one day suit up for Goodyear Desert Edge but the seventh grader has to wait a couple of years first.
“This team is the best team I have ever played with,” Ortiz offered. “I couldn’t have asked for a better team.”
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Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014 and has been a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. His own children have won multiple state high school championships and were named to all-state teams. Competing in hockey, basketball, baseball and track & field in high school, his unique perspective can only be found here, on AZPreps365.com and on the pages of the Vail Voice and the Tanque Verde Voice. Contact Andy Morales at AMoralesMyTucson@yahoo.com