No. 38: Suffolk Hills wins lone state title under Sorce three years before program goes defunct


No. 38

CHAMPIONSHIP: Class 1A (known as Class C at the time)

SCORE: Suffolk Hills 23, Pima 14

DATE: November 19, 1982

SITE: Phoenix Indian High School

GAME SUMMARY: The defunct Suffolk Hills program — now Immaculate Heart High School — won its first and only state football championship and finished unbeaten (10-0) under coach Steve Sorce Sr. Suffolk Hills played its last season in 1988 and the school changed to Immaculate Heart in the 1991-92 school year.

Sorce left Suffolk Hills after winning the championship to become the head coach at Salpointe, succeeding the legendary Ed Doherty, in 1983.

Suffolk Hills played in the state championship for the second straight year. It lost 20-14 to Maricopa in 1981, also eliminating the Rebels’ hopes for an undefeated season.

Suffolk Hills led 7-0 at halftime against Pima behind trickery late in the second quarter. Ernie Medina took a pitchout from quarterback Steve Sorce Jr., the coach’s son, and threw a halfback pass for 29 yards to Mike Lehman for the touchdown.

Steve Sorce Sr. left Suffolk Hills after winning the Class C state championship and became the head coach at Salpointe Catholic, succeeding Ed Doherty, in 1983. He won 27 of his last 28 games at Suffolk Hills and went 31-7 overall in four years. He coached at Salpointe from 1983-85. His son, Steve Sorce Jr., followed him to Salpointe. Sorce, employed by IBM, reportedly resigned in 1985 because of the low pay he was receiving at Salpointe.

The Rebels had to punt in their first five possessions and did not earn a first down until midway through the second quarter.

Suffolk Hills running back Andy Ortiz took control of the game in the second half. He finished with 108 yards rushing, 73 in the second half. His rushing put Suffolk Hills into a position for their second touchdown, a 26-yard bootleg by Sorce Jr.

Ortiz’s 10-yard scoring run with 8:16 left in the game increased the lead to 21-0.

A safety with a tackle of Pima running back in the end zone, increased the lead to 23-0.

Two defensive plays by Pima made the game closer — a pick-6 with 6:11 remaining and then another interception leading to a 23-yard touchdown pass in the waning seconds — but it was too late.

THEY SAID IT: “This is the best Class C defense ever put on the field. Tonight, (Pima) scored one defensive touchdown and a bad call helped them score another.” — Suffolk Hills coach Steve Sorce Sr. as quoted by the Tucson Citizen

DID YOU KNOW: The academy associated with Suffolk Hills opened in September 1931 by the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who came to the United States from Spain. In 1956, the sisters bought Forest Lodge, an estate on Magee Road formerly owned by the Countess of Suffolk. In 1962, the high school was completed and it admitted only girls. In 1971, the high school began to accept boys for financial reasons, a year after it was renamed to Suffolk Hills Catholic High School. The school’s colors changed from lavender and white to blue and gold to suit the football team with more “boy-like” colors, according to school officials. The school name changed back to Immaculate Heart during the 1990-91 school year.

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