This story has been updated.
SUNNYSIDE — Senior Mike Rivera set a Sunnyside High School record for receiving yards in a single game with 206, against the Cleveland Eagles as the Grizzlies rolled to a 62-0 season home opening non-conference victory Friday night.
“I’ve got to keep going! I’m just trying to get my guys involved, trying to get them the ball, trying to get them receiving yards and trying to get them touchdowns. I just want to win. So, that’s all I’m worried about,” Rivera excitedly stated after his record-breaking performance.
Following their big rivalry road win against Prosser last week, Sunnyside (4A Big 9, 0-0 and 2-0) came out with a determined focus and played hard in all phases of the game.
Head coach John Lobbestael said his team had a solid week of practice. He was concerned about how they would handle their pregame routine and didn’t want them starting the game off flat.
“I thought they did a great job of playing the way they should and doing what they’re supposed to do,” Lobbestael said.
The Grizzlies didn’t take the Eagles (3A Metro-Sound, 0-0 and 0-1) of Seattle lightly. The two teams played each other last year in Seattle with Sunnyside winning 28-0.
Cleveland received the opening kickoff and was held to a three and out by the swarming and hard-hitting Grizzly defense. Once again, Sunnyside’s aggressive defensive line set the tone for their second game of the early season.
On Sunnyside’s first offensive series and facing a second down and 10 at their own 34-yard line, sophomore quarterback Logan Rodriguez dropped back with time to throw and hit Rivera on a vertical post route in stride as the playmaker ran through the Eagle’s secondary for the game’s first touchdown.
Senior placekicker and defensive back Patrick Gallagher booted the point after touchdown and the Grizzlies jumped out 7-0 with 3:09 gone by in the first quarter.
After the ensuing kickoff, the Eagles’ offense took over at their own 25-yard line. Their second series resulted in three plays for 12 yards.
Sunnyside’s junior linebacker and running back Favian Oseguera had a solo tackle for a five-yard loss on second down. Senior defensive lineman Ramiro Robledo and sophomore linebacker Raymond Ramirez combined for a quarterback sack at the Cleveland 13-yard line and forcing them to punt on fourth down.
The Grizzlies got the ball back and on first down at the Eagles’ 28-yard line, Rodriguez took the snap from center and dropped back to pass with strong protection from the offensive line. The QB found Rivera running a golden route down the right side of the field and threw it up for the senior to make a play over two defenders at the two-yard line. Rivera timed his leap toward the lofty throw and elevated over the defensive backs to make a two-handed catch while maintaining his balance and pedaling backwards into the end zone.
Rivera had touchdown catches of 66 and 28 yards with 6:07 remaining in the first quarter as Sunnyside scored on back-to-back offensive series and led 14-0 behind the vocal Grizzly Nation faithful at Clem Senn Field.
The wideout added a 15-yard scoring catch at 6:10 into the second quarter and chalked up another 13-yard TD reception with 5:47 left in the third. He finished the game with a total of eight catches, four of them for touchdowns and amassed 206 yards while establishing a new Grizzly mark for excellence.
Rodriguez, Sunnyside’s signal caller had a coming out home party of his own. The three-sport athlete also played varsity basketball and baseball as a freshman. He completed 14 of 17 passes (82-percent) for 279 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.
“I was nervous coming into the season,” Rodriguez explained. “We’ve been working all summer, like since the end of last season, coming out after workouts and running routes. Making sure our timing is good and everything is alright.”
The Grizzlies’ special teams were able to get into the scoring action at 11:47 in the second quarter. A bull rush up the middle caused the Eagle’s punter, who was kicking from his endzone, to boot the ball into one of his lineman and Sunnyside junior Noah Rodriguez recovered the ball for a touchdown,
Sunnyside was ahead 21-0 and about three minutes later, the opportunistic defense knocked the ball loose from the Eagle quarterback as junior Dominick Gonzalez scooped it up on the run and rambled about 60-yards for the score.
“I picked it up and just didn’t look back, exclaimed Gonzalez. “I was just trying not to get caught because I’m not the fastest guy. So, I was just trying to get into that endzone.”
With 5:50 left in the second quarter and the Grizzlies up 28-0, Rodriguez connected with Rivera for a third time on a 15-yard shovel pass play and run. Sunnyside went into halftime with a commanding 35-0 lead.
The Grizzly offense finished with 351 total yards, along with 72-yards on 15 rushing attempts while the defense held Cleveland to only 30 total yards. The Eagles had -49 yards rushing on 32 attempts and completed four of 11 (36-percent) for 79 yards passing. They gave up two interceptions, one fumble and blocked punt.
The SHS ground attack was led by seniors Arturo Fernandez, Devontay Hererra and Guillermo Reyes, along with sophomore Devin Escamilla.
Sunnyside travels to take on the Richland Bombers (4A Mid-Columbia Conference, 1-1 and 1-1) for a nonconference game on Friday, Sept. 20 at Fran Rish Stadium, 1350 Lee Blvd.
“We haven’t seen scout film of Richland. I’ve only looked at highlights. And so, they’re spread, they’re big and they throw the ball well and they run zone well. We’re really excited,” coach Lobbestael acknowledged.