A fumble prone second half was about the only drawback for the Sunnyside High School football team in this past Friday night's Homecoming game against Wapato.
The two-headed monster of Greg Gilleland and Joe Schwartz did most of the damage for the Grizzlies, as they helped record a commanding 42-21 victory over the Wolfpack.
"I thought we played well," said Sunnyside Coach Mark Marro, "but we didn't hold onto the ball."
Sunnyside got on the board early in the game when Gilleland returned an interception 40 yards for a touchdown. The Grizzlies' other early score came in the first quarter when Gilleland popped off a 20-yard touchdown run.
The fun for Grizzly fans didn't stop with the end of the first quarter, as Sunnyside scored twice in the second period. Gilleland scored both second quarter touchdowns, one off a one-yard run and the other a 22-yard pass from quarterback Tony Cantu.
The Wolfpack was able to sustain a drive in the second quarter that led to a touchdown, when Wapato quarterback Jason Pitt found receiver Mark McDaniel on a five-yard pass.
The second half was sort of a different story for the Grizzlies, as they didn't look anything like they did in the opening two quarters.
The second half saw the Grizzlies fumble three times inside the Wolfpack's 20-yard line.
"We can't afford to cough up the ball," said Marro.
Wapato took advantage of the slippery hands of the Grizzlies in the second half.
The Wolfpack drove nearly the length of the field in the third quarter to see the drive end on a one-yard touchdown run from Art Weaver.
With the score 28-14, the Grizzlies got back to pounding the ball on the ground. Gilleland scored on a four-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Teammate Joe Schwartz added a 17-yard touchdown run to account for the final score.
Wapato's Justin Clements gave the Wolfpack its last score when he ran past the Grizzly defense on a 74-yard touchdown run.
The Grizzlies did a nice job of keeping Wapato's defense guessing. Sunnyside was able to mix in an effective passing game with a dominating run attack. Cantu went 10-for-16 on the night through the air for 186 yards.
"We wanted Tony to throw the ball," said Marro. "We are going to need him to throw the ball in the next couple of weeks."
Marro said he was impressed with the way Wapato played, as the Wolfpack was putting some hard hits on the Grizzlies.
"They have steadily gotten better," said Marro.
Marro was also impressed with the play of his offensive line, which opened holes for Gilleland and Schwartz all night.
Gilleland ended up rushing for 158 yards on 24 carries while Schwartz had 101 yards off 14 totes.
Gilleland also had two receptions for 67 yards. Gilleland set a new school record for most points scored in a game. Gilleland scored 30 points on Friday night, breaking Larry Coleman's record set in 1979 of 26 points against East Valley-Spokane. Gilleland also tied the record with a host of other players for most rushing touchdowns in a game with three.
One Sunnyside player who performed extremely well Friday night was Noe Zamarron, who was both a force on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Zamarron had three catches for 52 yards.
"He has great hands," said Marro. "Noe is an exceptional athlete."
The only drawback in the game that Marro saw was the fumbles by Sunnyside in the second half. Marro also felt his defensive unit could have done a better job of tackling in the second half.
"We missed a lot of tackles," said Marro.
Besides the fumbles, Marro felt his team did an exceptional job of playing the game.
"We got pretty much what we expected from the players," said Marro.
Sunnyside (2-2, 4-3) will be without the services of Gilleland for a crucial Mid-Valley League match-up at Ellensburg. Gilleland was ejected late from Friday's game for an altercation with a Wapato player.
"It is always a tough place to play at Ellensburg," said Marro. "I am excited about the game."
Marro said the game against Ellensburg is a must win if Sunnyside wants to stay in playoff contention.
. Mike Kantman can be contacted at (509) 837-4500, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org