WAPATO - It was a nice start to the season for both of the Sunnyside Grid Kid youth football teams this past Saturday. The only problem is that while playing relatively well for the first game of the season, neither of the local teams notched a win.
The 'A' squad, which usually features the older, more experienced players in the program, let a 12-point lead on local rival Grandview slip away enroute to an 18-12 overtime loss. The 'B' squad had a sensational defensive battle in its season opener, but the air attack of Wapato nipped Sunnyside in the end. Wapato won the game 6-0 on a touchdown pass in the last 40 seconds of the game.
Wapato has two 'B' squad teams this season. The Wapato team Sunnyside played has what is considered the premiere players of the two 'B' squad programs.
The 'B' game was an intense defensive struggle, as both teams battled to a scoreless tie through three quarters.
Sunnyside's defense rose to the occasion a couple of times in the game, including a beautiful goal line stand in the second quarter.
But, Wapato wore down Sunnyside's defensive secondary with an intensive passing attack.
Wapato strung together a solid drive in the fourth quarter, which culminated with a gorgeous looking touchdown pass with 40 seconds left to take a 6-0 lead. Sunnyside tried to put a drive together with under a minute in the game, but ran out of time.
Sunnyside did have a couple of bright spots despite the loss. Quarterback Eduardo Salmeron led Sunnyside with a solid effort. Salmeron, though, was able to do quite a bit because of the work of his offensive line, which held up well under a relentless attack by Wapato's defense.
"We did good," said Sunnyside 'B' squad Coach Curtis Graff. "It was the same play all day long (that hurt us)."
Graff said he didn't have too many complaints about his team, as he felt Sunnyside played well. He said his players just have a few things to polish up defensively.
"We just have to work harder," said Graff.
The 'A' squad opened its season with a 1 p.m. affair against Grandview and looked as if it was going to walk away with the game. But this game can be summed up as the defense taketh and the defense giveth away.
Sunnyside's defense was sensational through three quarters, but didn't show up to play in the final frame.
After ending the first half in a scoreless tie, Sunnyside got on the scoreboard early in the second half when Luis Garcia returned an interception from near midfield for a touchdown at the 8:54 mark.
Just more than two minutes later, Sunnyside scored on a short run following an interception by Leo Cuellar. The touchdown put Sunnyside ahead by a seemingly insurmountable 12-0 lead.
Grandview got to work in the fourth quarter with a punishing ground game that wore down Sunnyside's defense. Grandview did an excellent job of spreading the field, pounding the ball around the corners. Grandview scored at the 6:14 mark of the fourth quarter and then tied the game with its second touchdown with only 58 seconds left.
Sunnyside ran the clock out to finish regulation play.
Sunnyside took possession of the ball first in overtime. The format for the overtime session was that each team would get a chance to punch the ball in from the 20-yard line. Grandview's defense rose to the challenge, as Sunnyside couldn't convert on a couple of pass plays. Grandview then scored the winning touchdown on basically the same series of running plays to the outside that ended up forcing the extra session.
"We played a good game," said Sunnyside 'A' squad Coach Max Saldana. "But we let them back in."
Sunnyside 'A' squad defensive coach John Rodriquez said that poor tackling by his defensive players was what led to all three Grandview touchdowns.
Saldana said his offense is going to have to step up. He said there were several plays that the offense just didn't execute.