Sunnyvale could not have asked for a smoother transition to Class 4A.
The Raiders’ jump up in classification has not affected their results on the field. Sunnyvale (9-0) qualified for the playoffs for the fifth straight season captured their fourth district title during that span and completed the regular season with an undefeated record for the third time.
Next up, Sunnyvale turns its attention to the Class 4A Division II bi-district round of the playoffs, where they face Gilmer at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Greenville’s T.A. “Cotton” Ford Stadium.
Raider quarterback Tripp McAda threw for five touchdown passes and rushed for another in last week’s 46-13 win over Farmersville. For the season, McAda has completed 61.3 percent of his passes for 1,453 yards and 15 touchdowns, while rushing for 997 yards and 16 scores.
McAda is just one part of a balanced rushing attack that includes Emmanuel Arinze (66-573, 7 TDs), Brian Perry Jr. (62-549, 4 TDs) and Devin Sterling (33-193 5 TDs).
Sunnyvale has had 11 different players with at least one reception, led by Trevor Tutle (23-455, 5 TDs) and Noah McDill (20-370, 3 TDs).
Jake Taylor leads the Raiders in tackles with 100, including 10 for loss, and also has three interceptions. Sterling is also a playmaker in the middle, with 92 tackles and 12 going for a loss. Ethan Akins (85 tackles) and Cole Flanery (78 tackles, 3 interceptions) have also consistently turned in big efforts.
Sunnyvale will take on a Gilmer team that is in unfamiliar territory entering the playoffs with a 4-6 record.
From 2003-2017, the Buckeyes won at least 10 games in 14 out of 15 of those seasons, capturing state championships in 2004, 2009 and 2014.
This season has been more of a struggle, although they do play in one of the tougher districts in the state. In the Texas High School Coaches Association Class 4A Division II Region II poll, Sunnyvale is the only team from its district in the rankings, checking in at No. 5. In 6-4A Division II, conversely, all four playoff teams are ranked with defending state champion Texarkana Pleasant Grove at No. 1, followed by No. 3 Pittsburg, No. 7 Texarkana Liberty-Eylau and No. 9 Gilmer.
The Buckeyes have used a pair of quarterbacks with Mason Hurt and Cade Camp, who have combined to throw for 2,233 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Darrell Bush has been good on the ground, rushing 129 times for 716 yards and 12 scores and they have seven receivers with at least 10 catches, led by Tra Fluellen (40-687, 6 TDs).
Abel Euceda leads the defense with 116 tackles, including 10 for loss. Raciel Orona has 86 stops with 13 for loss, Ronnie McPherson has 81 tackles with 11 for loss and Trae Hampton (76 tackles), Davion Smith (73 tackles), Omar Euceda (62 tackles) and DJ Shead (55 tackles) have also been effective.
The winner of this game will face either Fairfield, who is tied for third in the THSCA regional poll, or No. 10 Wills Point.