Despite losing starting quarterback Adrian Cantu to injury just after halftime and playing the entire game without bruising running back B.J. Miller, the Sunnyside Grizzlies held their own against the visiting Kennewick Lions last Friday night.
In the end, Kennewick made off with a 26-6 Columbia Basin League victory. But to Sunnyside's credit, the Lions had to fight tooth-and-nail to escape the Grizzly den with the conference win.
Sunnyside, shut out in the opening half, drew blood against the Lions in the third quarter when back-up QB James Baysinger spiraled a 16-yard touchdown toss to Nathan Cornelius. The TD drew the Grizzlies to within 13-6 of Kennewick.
Baysinger, one of the main targets this season for the starting QB Cantu, proved Friday that he's just as adept at throwing the pigskin as catching it. After taking over for Cantu, Baysinger went on to complete 10-of-14 passes for 102 yards. And, he avoided getting picked.
Unfortunately for the Grizzlies, the Baysinger to Cornelius TD hook-up was to be the only score of the night for Sunnyside.
Kennewick stormed back later in the third quarter to make it a two-touchdown lead on a short TD run, then put the icing on the cake in the final period on a 3-yard touchdown run by Ricky Carrillo.
It was the 6'0", 200-lb. Carrillo who gave the Lions a 6-0 first quarter lead, when he broke off a 77-yard run to pay dirt. Carrillo, a senior, finished the night with 189 rushing yards, coming on 23 totes.
Kennewick's second touchdown of the night came in the second quarter, on a 7-yard run by Lions running back Arend McGuire. The lightly used, 175-lb. senior had six other touches Friday, but was held to just seven yards total on those six carries.
Sunnyside limited Lions QB Jonathan Buckingham to just eight completions on the night, although he did total 124 yards through the air.
The Grizzlies' undoing Friday was their inability to run the ball with any real effectiveness. With the senior tailback Miller out of the line-up due to a leg injury he suffered against the Davis Pirates the previous week, Sunnyside turned to a bevy of runners to pick up the ball-carrying chores. Kennewick, emphasizing speed on the defensive side of the ball, hampered the Grizzlies' efforts, however, and limited Sunnyside to a total of 34 yards rushing. That was due chiefly to three of the Grizzly players being held to minus-42 yards on 10 different plays.
But, to their credit, 5'7", 155-lb. Danny Alvarez and 5'6", 140-lb. Joseph Villanueva, both juniors, did rush for 40 and 33 yards, respectively, against Kennewick on seven carries apiece.
By knocking off Sunnyside last Friday the Lions squared their 3A division record in the Columbia Basin League at 1-1, 2-2 overall. For the Grizzlies, Friday's game was their first 3A league contest of the year. Overall, Sunnyside is sitting on a 1-3 record.
Up next for the Grizzlies is a road trip to the Tri-Cities this coming Friday to on the Kamiakin Braves, 19-0 winners over Southridge last week.