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Sunnyside grid team rolls over West Valley Rams

In 1982 Ronald Reagan was president, Ma Bell was forced to split up, the Commodore-64 was the latest in computer technology, Ozzy Osbourne bit the head off a bat and it was the last time the Sunnyside High School football team scored a win over West Valley High School in Sunnyside. That is until last Friday night, when the Grizzlies exercised their demons and posted a 20-13 win over the Rams in Sunnyside.

"It's been a long haul and a tough one to go through," Sunnyside football coach Mark Marro said. "They were the only ones left on my list we haven't beat."

Marro, who was a student at Sunnyside High School the last time the Grizzlies beat West Valley at home, mentioned the 25-year drought to his players before the game on Friday. Sunnyside took it to heart and used its offense, defense and special teams to get the win.

Sunnyside scored first with 7:06 left in the first quarter. After starting its drive at the Sunnyside 30-yard line, quarterback Adrian Cantu drove his team down the field, capping it off with a 15-yard pass to Joseph Villanueva. Sunnyside missed its opportunity at the point-after and took a 6-0 lead.

West Valley scored an equalizer when time expired in the quarter on a Joe Wallace 33-yard pass to Richard Hassett to tie Sunnyside at 6-6.

Both teams slugged it out with neither one making much progress against the other. It was then the Grizzlies' special teams stepped up.

With 5:15 left in the half, Sunnyside's Gibby Briones received a punt on his own 15-yard line and raced 85 yards past Rams defenders to score a touchdown. The kick after failed and the Grizzlies held a 12-6 lead.

On the first play of West Valley's next drive, Sunnyside's Danny Alvarez crushed the Ram quarterback, causing him to fumble. The ball was recovered by Jose Barrajas on the Rams' six-yard line.

Alvarez then punched in the touchdown on a six-yard run, and after a two-point conversion the Grizzlies led 20-6.

West Valley came back and scored with almost two minutes remaining in the half on a Wallace two-yard run to close the gap to 20-13, a deficit they would not be able to overcome.

Clinging to a seven-point lead, the Grizzlies went into defensive mode in the third and fourth quarters.

"The third quarter was over in what seemed like a second," Marro said.

There were very few passes in the quarter, which allowed the clock to tick down freely.

"It was a group effort on defense," Marro said. "We worked really well together. Everybody did their job and we kept them contained. The defensive line really stood out against the run."

It was the defensive play that allowed Sunnyside's offense to relax and not worry. Marro said he felt pretty confident as long as Sunnyside didn't give the Rams a short field to work on. They didn't.

Cantu completed 8-of-19 passes for 139 yards and one touchdown. The Sunnyside QB was intercepted once. Alvarez ran the ball 18 times for the Grizzlies, gaining 57 yards and scoring a touchdown. Alvarez also caught three passes for 33 yards.

Villanueva ran the ball twice for 18 yards, and the Grizzly caught three passes for 20 yards and a score. Teammate Jesse Montelongo had nine carries for 32 yards and had two receptions for 38 yards. Montelongo also completed the two short passes he threw. Sunnyside's Brice Rinehold caught one pass for 17 yards.

On special teams, Briones returned four punts for 112 yards, including his 85-yard touchdown return.

"It was a great win," Marro said. "We made a few mistakes but we controlled the game."

The win gives Sunnyside a big boost in confidence after losing two straight to open conference play. Marro said Sunnyside (1-2, 3-3) has three games left in the season and said Sunnyside must win all three of them to make the playoffs.

Marro said his players have an understanding of what needs to be done for the rest of the season.

"It will be athlete against athlete and we'll see what happens," he predicted.

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