Grizzlies gamble to pick up first win of season

YAKIMA - With just over nine minutes left to play in last Friday's football game between the Sunnyside Grizzlies and the West Valley Rams, Sunnyside Coach Mark Marro elected to go for a two-point conversion over the traditional kicking attempt.

The gamble paid off as Sunnyside's Danny Almeida rumbled into the end zone from a yard and a half out to give the Grizzlies an 18-17 lead, which Sunnyside held onto for their first win of the year.

Why go for the lead and not the tie with over nine minutes to go?

"West Valley got a personal foul on the touchdown, which set us up at the one and a half yard line," Marro explained. "We were on the road and I wasn't sure we'd get down there again. West Valley's running backs were doing a good job of eating up the clock.

"If we couldn't move the ball a yard and a half we didn't deserve to win," he added.

Sunnyside got on the scoreboard first in the first quarter when Israel Manzo nailed a 25-yard field goal to put the Grizzlies up 3-0.

"That was big for us," Marro said. "It gave us some confidence. It's nice to know we have a young guy we can look forward to."

Marro said the freshman Manzo is consistently kicking 30-yard field goals.

A Grizzly mistake allowed the Rams to take the lead late in the first quarter.

West Valley's Slate Diessner picked off Michael Rodriguez and returned the rock 30 yards for a score.

The Rams went up by seven points with 25 seconds left in the first half when Weston Green booted a 35-yard field goal for the Rams.

Marro said West Valley took the opening kick-off to start the second half and drove down the field for a score.

Down 17-3, the Grizzlies fielded the ensuing kick-off and ran it back for a score. Unfortunately, a clipping penalty brought the ball back.

The West Valley offense spent most of the third quarter on the field, which meant the Grizzly offense was on the sideline. Not to worry, however, as Jacob Arevalo intercepted West Valley's Joe Wallace and scampered 40 yards for a touchdown to cut the Rams' lead to 17-10.

Marro credited defensive player Chance Graff with helping Wallace throw the costly mistake.

"Chance was in the QB's face when he threw the ball," Marro explained. "It went right into Jacob's hands and he had no one in front of him."

With just under 10 minutes to play Sunnyside's Andrew Daley hooked up with Mario Saldana on a screen pass and Saldana rumbled 42 yards for the score, which set up the winning two-point conversion.

Both Rodriguez and Daley combined to go 6-for-16 through the air for 76 yards, two interceptions and a touchdown.

Marro also pointed out Saldana's play. He recorded six solo tackles on defense, rushed for 61 yards and had 72 yards receiving, plus his score.

He also singled out the Grizzly defensive line for its play.

The win against West Valley was important because there are only three 3A teams in the CBBN. They are Sunnyside, West Valley and Hanford. Last Friday night's win put Sunnyside in the driver's seat for a 3A playoff berth at the end of the season. If the Grizzlies can get past Hanford in week nine, they are guaranteed a playoff spot.

But first Sunnyside will have to take on the visiting Pasco Bulldogs in this coming Friday's homecoming game.

"We're beat up a little bit from Friday night and Pasco will be a challenge," Marro added. ""We just have to line-up and play football."


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