Most hunters will agree that fending off a grizzly attack is at best extremely perilous. The Davis Pirates football team probably will agree, especially after getting clawed 43-28 by the Sunnyside Grizzlies last Friday night.
The lopsided victory, even more so when you consider Sunnyside was up 43-12 before the Pirates tacked on a couple of meaningless scores in the late going, gives the 3A Grizzlies two wins in the last three weeks over class 4A opponents.
Friday's thumping of Davis moves Sunnyside (2-1, 3-5) into the No. 2 spot in the Columbia Basin Big Nine League standings. Only Eastmont, which prevailed on its home field two Fridays ago against the Grizzlies, is ahead of Sunnyside in the race for the conference championship.
To move ahead of Eastmont and secure the CBBN title the Grizzlies must win out, with just Eisenhower and Wenatchee remaining on the schedule. And, the league-leading Wildcats, who like Sunnyside have just one loss in conference play, must drop one more game along the way. The best chance of that happening is this coming Friday, when Eastmont goes up against its long-time rival, the Wenatchee Panthers.
Sunnyside's football team, however, can't concern itself with Eastmont. SHS Coach Mark Marro said his Grizzlies have to worry about what's in front of them. And that target is this coming Friday's opponent, the Eisenhower Cadets.
Ike was the pre-season choice to run the table in CBBN play this fall, thanks in large part to QB Kolney Cassel, an NCAA Division I recruit. Cassel went down with a season-ending injury a few weeks back, though, and the Cadets (4-3, 5-3) now find themselves scrambling for respectability.
Marro said the receiver the Cadets turned to as the fill-in quarterback is unpredictable, especially with his ability to spot gaps and try to exploit the holes by running the ball. "He throws it sparingly, but he's probably one of their best athletes.
"Our job will be to try to force him to throw the ball," explained Marro.
Ike also uses wideout Ridge Harmon to advance the ball with his feet, most of his yardage coming on specially designed wildcat plays. Running back Brandon Curtis also is called upon to advance the ball on the ground, many of his carries right up the gut between the defensive tackles.
Marro said the key for his club in this coming Friday's game, which he predicts will be extremely physical, is solid play from his guys in the trenches and his Grizzly linebackers keeping to their assignments while making hard-nosed stops.
"They're going to try and run it if we show them they can't pass on us, so we have to stop the run. There's probably going to be a lot of five yards and a cloud of dust plays when Eisenhower has the ball," Marro said.
When Sunnyside has the ball this coming Friday on the Cadets' home field, the Grizzlies are going to have to exhibit the kind of offense they unleashed against Davis last Friday. And that has to start with QB Eduardo Salmeron, who turned in his best game of the season against the Pirates.
Salmeron threw four touchdown passes last Friday, two to Marcus Sanchez and one apiece to Joseph Contreras and Eric Amaro.
All told, Salmeron lit it up for 254 passing yards last Friday, completing 13 of 21 throws with only one pick. He also tossed the ball into the end zone twice on a pair of two-point conversion attempts. And, Salmeron used his feet to pick up 30 yards on the ground on five plays he was chased out of the pocket.
The workhorse for Sunnyside against the visiting Pirates (0-7, 0-8) proved to be senior Ramon Hernandez. The running back, as has been the case all season, ran the ball between the tackles the entire game.
"Ramon always picks up the tough yardage for us," said Marro, "...straight into the heart of the other team's defense." Last Friday, Hernandez toted the pigskin 23 times, tallying 134 yards in the process. Two of those carries by Hernandez, a 3-yard rumble just 13 seconds before halftime and a 2-yard dive for Sunnyside's last score of the game early in the fourth quarter, resulted in touchdowns.
"We ran a lot of counters with Ramon, seven or eight yards a pop a lot of the time. So we kept going back to him," said Marro.
The SHS coach said his Grizzlies will also need another big night on Eisenhower's field from the team's top wideout, Contreras. Besides hauling in a team-best five passes for 103 yards and a score last Friday, Contreras made a couple of unbelievable "circus" catches that left the Pirates standing in awe.
Along with Contreras' acrobatics in snaring the ball out of the air, the Grizzlies last Friday received two-catch performances from Sanchez, Hernandez and Brandon Daley.
Sunnyside went ahead of Davis by a 43-12 score with about eight and a half minutes to play. At that point Marro subbed in his junior varsity offensive unit, although he went with a mix of starters and back-ups on defense down the stretch. The Pirates caught Sunnyside's defenders sleeping on two plays in the late going, both resulting in touchdown tosses, which accounted for the final 43-28 score.