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Sunrise Mountain’s old school game, ‘new-school twist’ tops Spring Valley, 29-13

Trayvon Ward said he hasn’t hit his full potential yet. Through three weeks of the season, that’s hard to believe.

The Sunrise Mountain senior running back carried the ball 25 times for 172 yards and a touchdown Thursday to help the Miners’ football team, ranked No. 5 in Class 3A, to a 29-13 victory over Class 4A No. 9 Spring Valley.

After a 160 yards in Week 1 and 229 in Week 2, he has amassed 569 yards on the ground this season.

“I played to my standards. I played good, but I felt I could have played better,” Ward said. “I feel like today I could have done a little better.”

Ward powered an offense that coach Chris Sawyers called old-school, but “with a new-school twist.” The Miners (2-1) rushed 36 times to just 15 pass attempts, but lined up in a spread formation most of the game and rarely went into an I-formation or other typical sets of a ground-and-pound team.

It worked early, as the Miners kicked a field goal on their first possession and gave the ball to Ward for a 16-yard TD run with 11:04 remaining in the second quarter to seize a 10-0 lead.

Sunrise Mountain’s defense looked like a wall for the first half and most of the second, shutting out the Grizzlies (2-1) in the first half, making two sacks, recovering two fumbles and blocking a punt. They held Spring Valley quarterback Sylo Staton to just 7-for-22 passing and 86 yards, though he did run for 93.

Sunrise Mountain allowed 94 yards of offense in the first half, and has surrendered just 33 points in three games this season.

“I always prescribe to the theory that a good running game and a good defense is a good way to win,” Sawyers said. “That’s kind of our identity as a team right now.”

The second half started well for the Miners but got dicey as the quarters changed. They scored twice early to take a 22-0 lead with 5:34 remaining in the third, but allowed Spring Valley’s only offensive touchdown on the ensuing drive when running back Kevin Benoza punched it in from 4 yards out with 2:39 remaining. He finished with 101 yards on 24 carries.

Then Spring Valley recovered a fumble for a score on the first play of the fourth quarter, and just like that it was 22-13. The Miners’ defense did not fold again, and allowed quarterback Tyree Hayes and the offense to put the game away.

While Ward and the run game was the focus of the offense, Hayes quietly put together a superb game. He completed 10 of his 15 passes for 142 yards, which included a 42-yard dime to Anthony Proby-Jenson on the Miners’ final drive to set up the touchdown run by Xavier Kyles that sealed it.

Hayes hit Proby-Jenson for a touchdown earlier in the game, and he also connected with Te’andre Love for a score.

“With who we are as a team, if he’s going to give us those numbers, we’re going to beat a lot of football teams,” Sawyers said.

Coupled with the victory over Eldorado last week, Thursday’s win marked the first time in Sunrise Mountain’s history its football team beaten two Class 4A teams in a season.

“We definitely sell that to our kids, that they’re 4A and we’re 3A, but realistically what we’re trying to do is get better as a football team and make a deep run in the 3A playoffs,” Sawyers said. “When you schedule 4A teams, that gets you prepared.”

Contact Justin Emerson at jemerson@reviewjournal.com or (702) 387-2944. Follow @J15Emerson on Twitter.

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