A battle of 2-2 teams looking to head into section play on the right foot took place Friday night at Tucson High School. However, a Sunnyside defense that was locked in helped propel the Blue Devils to a 24-0 shutout over the Badgers.
Sunnyside took control early on offense, driving the length of the field on the opening drive of the game and capping it off with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Deion Conde to Samario Garcia to put the Blue Devils up 7-0.
Had that been the only score, that would’ve been all the Blue Devils would’ve needed. Their defense was lights out from the beginning of the game till the final whistle.
Tucson struggled to move the ball consistently throughout the game, having to go back-and-forth between their two quarterbacks for parts of the game.
Sunnyside tacked on three more thanks to a Mike Vasquez field goal. Vasquez is both the punter and kicker for the Blue Devils.
You rarely see a kicker, even in high school, wearing the number 80. However, Vasquez, who is a junior and also plays soccer, is not like many of the kickers and punters you see in high school football. His head coach, Thomas Romack, agrees.
“He’s a special kid,” Romack said. “He’s smart, he works hard, he does things the right way, and that means more to us than what he does on the field for us. Obviously, what he does for us on the field is special.”
You can hear a difference when Vasquez’s foot connects with the ball. It is a booming sound that travels through the stadium.
In a shutout, an important aspect is the opponent’s starting field position. Vasquez was able to make the Badger offense’s job even more difficult with his punts, and he was able to flip the field in Sunnyside’s favor when they needed it most. Vazquez averaged 60 yards per punt, something you do not see very often in high school football.
The score remained 10-0 for most of the second quarter. While the Blue Devils were driving with under a minute left, it was the Badgers’ defense that made a play to take potential points off the board.
Rene Romero was able to chase down Conde and knock the ball loose which was recovered by Marcelino Montano for the Badgers. This ensured that the deficit would stay at 10 going into halftime.
Sunnyside once again took its opening drive of a half to the end zone, this time on the ground thanks to a 33-yard touchdown run by Jose Ramirez, making it 17-0.
Romack preaches the same message every week: “Do your job and focus on us.” This week was no different, and the defense responded in a big way.
“I tell the guys every week, we are all that matters, as long as we do our jobs and take care of ourselves, we’ll have success,” he said. “The defense, they get the message of playing with great effort and the only play that matters is the one we are on right now.”
The game remained at 17-0 for the next quarter and a half, until with under 10 seconds to go in the game, the Sunnyside defense forced their first turnover of the night, a scoop and score from about three yards out, making it a 24-0 ballgame and securing the win.
The win moves the Blue Devils over .500 for the first time since the opening week of the season. Romack is pleased with what he has seen from his team after losing two in a row to now winning two in a row.
“I’m very proud of how they’ve battled back, and continued to battle back, they’re bought in and they are getting the results they deserve.”
Both teams will start their section play next week against 1-4 teams.
Sunnyside will open 5A Sonoran play next Friday against Rincon (1-4) at Kino Sports Complex (the game is there because the Blue Devils’ field is not ready because new turf is being installed).
Tucson (2-3) will host Mountain View in a 5A Southern game.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com writing intern Harrison Moreno is a southern Arizona native who has watched Wildcat athletics since he was young kid. He recently is a graduate of The University of Arizona’s School of Journalism, with a focus in broadcast and audio journalism.