Sunnyside running game dominant in season-opening win over rival Desert View

Sunnyside beat its rival Desert View for the first time since 2018 (Stephanie van Latum/Special to AllSportsTucson.com)

When a coach uses the terminology “500-pound squatters and 330-pound push-jerkers” to describe the strength of his offensive line, dominant performances are expected.

Sunnyside’s offensive front showed that power against Desert View, creating holes for Jordan Barron and Jose Ramirez — who combined for 171 yards on 30 carries in the Blue Devils’ 16-6 triumph over their rivals in the Duel in the District game in front of a capacity crowd of 3,200 at Kino North Stadium.

Barron, a sophomore starting his first varsity game, rushed for 86 yards on 16 carries with a touchdown. Ramirez, a senior, finished with 85 yards on 14 rushes.

“Our line since the spring is who we’ve had the most faith in because they’ve had no excuses and they shut up and work,” said Romack, who replaced the retiring Glenn Posey as coach over the summer after serving as the defensive coordinator since 2019.

“When you get to run behind a few 500-pound squatters and 330-pound push-jerkers it feels pretty good to run behind strong kids like that who you can trust.”

The Coaches for Charity Kickoff Classic game between the Sunnyside Unified School District schools was played at Kino North Stadium instead of at Desert View because the Jaguars’ field is having synthetic turf installed. The same thing is happening at Sunnyside.

The district schools had an evenly split crowd at the stadium for a series that has become a rivalry after Sunnyside dominated for so many years.


The series between Desert View and Sunnyside in football (home team in CAPS). The schools did not play between 1995 and 2010 because of being in different regions and classifications. The 2023 game is the first time both schools ended the regular season against each other. Sunnyside leads the series 16-5.
* Game at Kino North Stadium.
1985SUNNYSIDE51Desert View 0
1986Sunnyside 40DESERT VIEW7
1987SUNNYSIDE14Desert View13
1988SUNNYSIDE23Desert View 12
1989DESERT VIEW19Sunnyside 0
1990SUNNYSIDE21Desert View0
1991Sunnyside 14DESERT VIEW6
1992SUNNYSIDE18Desert VIew16
1993Sunnyside34DESERT VIEW0
1994SUNNYSIDE39Desert View0
2011SUNNYSIDE49Desert View0
2012Sunnyside42DESERT VIEW6
2013SUNNYSIDE34Desert View27
2014Sunnyside53DESERT VIEW0
2016DESERT VIEW42Sunnyside20
2017Desert View10SUNNYSIDE 7
2018*Sunnyside20Desert View13
2019DESERT VIEW 20Sunnyside 6
2021Desert View29SUNNYSIDE21
2022*Sunnyside 16Desert View 6
2023Sunnyside35DESERT VIEW 14

Desert View coach Robert Bonillas led the Jaguars to four wins out of the previous five meetings (Sunnyside’s lone win in that stretch 20-13 at Kino North in 2018 when the game had to be rescheduled after flooding postponed their matchup).

Sunnyside was 13-1 against Desert View before the recent Jaguar uprise and now leads the series 15-5.

“It means a lot (beating Desert View),” Barron said. “It means a lot beating them for our seniors, who won’t play them next year. It means a lot to the whole team.”

Romack, Sunnyside’s defensive coordinator from 2019 to last year, won the first game of his head coaching career, although he did point out he was the interim coach last year in a 34-0 loss to Cienega after coach Glenn Posey was unable to be at the game.

The former Buena and Pima College standout reveled in the fact that Sunnyside beat Desert View in his first game as the permanent head coach.

“Trying to emphasize to the kids how much this game means within the district and within our communities,” Romack said. “This game affects these two schools for the next four to five years, where those 13U teams and those eighth graders (and) seventh graders decide where they go based off these records in our games.”

Sunnyside set the tone early with its ground game behind the heavy-pound squatters and push-jerkers — right tackle Frank Dicochea, right guard Diego Echeverria, center Xavier Encinas, left guard Dominick Corrales and left tackle Jose Roberto Heredia.

Word of warning to opposing schools — only Corrales graduates this school year.

“They did good today; they balled out today, to be honest,” said Ramirez, a senior. “They showed me everything they can do. We can be a perfect team to be honest and we can have a great season.”

Ramirez did some “balling out” of his own carrying five times for 22 yards in Sunnyside’s possession that opened the game. The tough yards were part of an 80-yard, 11-play drive capped by senior quarterback Deion Conde’s 13-yard touchdown pass to Diego Arellano with 5:29 left in the first quarter.

Sunnyside’s Diego Arellano hauls in a 13-yard touchdown in the first half against Desert View (Stephanie van Latum/Special to AllSportsTucson.com)

Conde completed all three of his pass attempts in that drive for 53 yards. He finished with 55 yards and could have had much more but two long pass plays were called back by penalties.

The game was beset by penalties on both sides — Sunnyside had 10 for 75 yards and Desert View seven for 55 yards.

The teams combined for only three lengthy possessions in the first half.

Desert View’s 12-play drive for 42 yards ended with an interception by Cesar Alcantar with 8:59 left in the second quarter.

Sunnyside proceeded to go on a 13-play, 88-yard drive that was culminated by Barron’s 10-yard sprint to the end zone with 24.2 seconds left in the half to increase the lead to 13-0.

Ramirez had six carries for 42 yards in the drive while Barron had three rushes for 18 yards.

“I feel we’re a lot more disciplined together; we’re a lot more bonded as a family,” Ramirez said. “We put in the time and effort into the weight room and it showed tonight.”

Sunnyside controlled the time of possession for 16 of the 24 minutes of the first half.

Sunnyside’s Cesar Alcantar goes up for the interception against Desert View (Stephanie van Latum/Special to AllSportsTucson.com)

The Blue Devils’ first possession of the second half resulted in a 35-yard field goal by Mike Vasquez that increased the lead to 16-0 with 4:44 left in the third quarter. The kick by Vasquez, a goalie on the boys’ soccer team, ended a six-play drive that took 3:16.

Desert View turned the ball over on downs and had to punt on its first two possessions of the second half before finally scoring on Sean Sierra Jr.’s 5-yard touchdown run with 7:24 left in the game. The two-point conversion pass failed and the Jaguars trailed 16-6.

The Jaguars’ last possession of the game ended with a turnover on downs with 4:31 left.

Indicative of its ability to control the line of scrimmage, Sunnyside ran seven straight plays to Barron, who gained 35 yards, to run out the clock.

Sierra rushed for 14 times for 92 yards for the Jaguars. Rudy Rodriguez was targeted often by quarterback Anthony Estrella and he finished with three catches for 21 yards.

Sunnyside plays at Cactus Shadows next Friday while Desert View travels to Willow Canyon.


ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

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