Question: what's worse than having to take to the road packing a 31-game losing streak?
Answer: being the home team that fails to pin loss No. 32 on the visitors.
Such was the scenario last Friday for the Davis and Sunnyside football teams. The 4A Pirates sailed into the Grizzly den last Friday in possession of the state's longest losing streak. But by the time the Pirate ship pulled out of Sunnyside, the Davis crew was celebrating its first victory in more than three years.
The one Pirate who was chiefly responsible for Davis ending its 31-game losing streak was senior tailback Brett Felton. Showing not only bursts of speed, the 6'1", 215-lb. bruiser ran over defenders as well enroute to piling up 180 rushing yards. Felton, too, completed two halfback passes for 65 yards-the first of which went for a touchdown and ended up giving the Pirates a 14-0 lead. Felton scored the Pirates' first TD, as well, on a 3-yard bolt into the end zone. Both of those scores came in the third quarter, after the two clubs played to a scoreless halftime score
The 3A Grizzlies, who let two prime scoring opportunities fall by the wayside in the opening half, finally made a game of it in the fourth quarter. Trailing by two TD's, Sunnyside cut the deficit in half when QB Adrian Cantu connected with wide receiver James Baysinger on a 22-yard scoring strike. A short time later Cantu, who completed 9-of-21 passes for 136 yards in the game, hooked up with the senior Baysinger again to knot things up at 14-all. The second touchdown toss was a 31-yarder that brought the Grizzly faithful to their feet.
Unfortunately for the home crowd, Felton hadn't completed his heroics. The Davis running back led a spirited charge by the Pirates down the stretch, which included completing a 43-yard halfback pass to junior wideout Javaray Elmore. That completion set up a go-ahead 4-yard touchdown run by who else, but Felton.
"Most quarterbacks in our league can't throw the ball as far as Felton did on that play," said Sunnyside Coach Mark Marro.
On the ensuing kickoff junior Joseph Villanueva returned the ball nearly 40 yards, well past the mid-field stripe to give the Grizzlies a last ditch try at tying the game. Any hopes by the Grizzlies for a last second comeback, however, were dashed when Cantu got picked heaving a desperation pass towards the end zone.
Sunnyside had its opportunities to put the visiting Pirates in a hole in the opening half, as the Grizzlies for the most part enjoyed relatively good field position. Two key scoring opportunities went for naught, though, the first ending on an interception at the Davis goal line. The Grizzlies were also unable to take advantage of a fumble recovery by defensive end Zach Marquez, who scooped up the loose pigskin at mid-field and rumbled to the Pirate-32, only to watch as Sunnyside went four-and-out.
Offensively, the Grizzlies couldn't muster much of a ground attack against Davis. The Pirates limited Sunnyside to just 43 rushing yards, with senior B.J. Miller accounting for most of those-six totes for 28 yards. That left the chore of moving the ball to the junior Cantu, who for the most part was effective by tallying 136 yards through the air. The two picks the Pirates managed against him, though, along with a third interception when the wide receiver Baysinger attempted a pass, nullified much of Sunnyside's offensive attack.
Despite sustaining the heartbreaking loss to the Pirates, Marro was pleased with what he saw from his Grizzlies, especially on the lines, where Sunnyside was giving up 100 pounds or more per man.
"There was no let-up in our guys," Marro said. "They all played with a lot of heart."
Marro also praised his QB, who was making just his third start of his prep career. "Adrian (Cantu) is doing good. He's just a step or two off.
"That early pick by Davis in the end zone, if the ball is thrown inside rather than outside, we have a 7-0 lead and it's a whole different ball game.
"The thing about it is, the last two weeks we've been right there," Marro continued. "Really, four plays have made the difference in our two losses to 4A teams. We could just as easily be 3-0 instead of 1-2.
"The neat thing is, we're playing with these 4A schools. In this 4A/3A league we're in, with these crossover games, on any given night a 3A team can beat a 4A team," he said. "There's a lot of parity in our league."
Sunnyside (0-0. 1-2) will play its third consecutive game at home this coming Friday. The Grizzlies' opponent will be the Kennewick Lions (0-1, 1-2), and they will be the first of six 3A league foes Sunnyside will face this season.
Marro admits Kennewick and Kamiakin, Sunnyside's next two opponents, pose as heady challenges for his club. "Those two teams, along with Southridge, who we close out league play against, will be our toughest tests of the season," he said.
Marro believes, though, that his under-sized Grizzlies, most of whom are underclassmen, have already proven they have the heart to compete against all their opponents, especially considering they have been doing so with several starters out of the line-up.
"Our kids are playing hard. Conditioning-wise, we've been in better shape than anyone we've faced so far.
"We're hitting hard, not giving up. The job they've been doing against bigger teams, I give them a lot of credit," Marro said of the Grizzlies.