GRIZZLY TRAILBLAZER — Senior defensive back and wide receiver Julian Sandoval at Clem Senn Field prior to the varsity team scrimmage on Aug. 29, 2019.

SUNNYSIDE — Sunnyside High School defensive back Julian Sandoval is a returning Big 9 Second Team All-League football player with a chance to become the top cornerback in the league.

With Sunnyside primarily running a man defense in the secondary, this 5-foot-11-inch, 170-pound senior has a huge responsibility of locking down opposing number one receivers.

“I really want to show I’m the best DB in the league this year,” Sandoval stated. “I’ve made it my goal to not allow any more than 50 receiving yards. I know it sounds crazy, but I believe I can do it.”

Playing consistent man coverage is not often done at the high school level, largely because of the significant margin for error, and it’s very physically demanding. It’s a testament to Sandoval’s skill set that he can do it game in and game out.

What stands out about Sandoval’s game is his hip mobility. While his straight-line speed is adequate, his ability to transition in and out of breaks is what allows him to remain sticky – like being glued onto the wide out.

Often a cornerback doesn’t start to excel in man coverage until the college level, which is a significant advantage Sandoval feels he has going into the season.

There’s still a whole lot of on the field skills he wants to display when game action starts up. Sandoval added about 20 pounds this offseason and the shutdown corner will be ready to display how his overall athleticism has improved.

Sandoval understands it would be a huge plus to demonstrate his consistent open field tackling talents with the added strength.

Right now, many colleges across the Northwest are expressing serious interest, Sandoval acknowledged. They include Central Washington University, Eastern Oregon University, Minot State, Montana Tech, Pacific Lutheran University, and University of Puget Sound.

He hopes a breakout senior season could push many of those schools towards an official offer.

“I really want to go to the school that I feel believes in me,” Sandoval expressed. “And I like the idea of staying local and living on a nice campus is appealing to me.”

It’s worth noting that should he make the jump to the next level; he would be one of a handful of Sunnyside players to do that over the last few years. One of the most recent players being Mike Rivera at Eastern Washington University.

“I think Coach Lobbestael has been getting more involved in helping players get recruited,” Sandoval said. “When he first got here, playing college football out of Sunnyside wasn’t really a thing. But ever since Mike Rivera blew up, Coach Lobbestael has been looking into it more for myself and my teammates.”

The defensive secondary specialist added that he comes primarily from a soccer playing family. His dad, Leonel Sandoval is the head coach in the lower valley soccer league. He is excited by the idea to be the first from his family to make it in the ‘American football’ arena.

Sandoval is hopeful to inspire younger generations of Sunnyside players, that they too can rep the ‘Griz’ in college football.

Sunnyside lost nine All League starters from last year, so there’s added pressure on Sandoval to be a top playmaker.

He’s projected to be a two-way starter and could even emerge as Sunnyside’s number one receiver.

Should the Grizzlies push for a Big 9 title, Sandoval’s performance will likely be a key part of the team’s driven success.

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