Last season, Kadin Diaz didnt have much help on offense.
In fact, after scoring 68 points nearly half the Southridge Suns scoring output last season its safe to argue that he was the offense.
After the Suns 34-7 Mid-Columbia Conference win over Kennewick on Friday at Lampson Stadium, no one can say that anymore.
Sure, Diaz put forth another Herculean effort, rushing for 155 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries. But he was one of several stars on the night for Southridge.
Diaz best friend, Suns receiver Clay Gonzales, turned the tide in the second quarter when he returned a kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown to break a 7-7 tie.
Thats my boy, Clay. I was lead blocking for him all the way down to the end zone, Diaz said. Im kind of mad he got that. I promised him Id beat him to it. But I wouldnt have anybody else do that except him.
Gonzales also hauled in a 31-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter to help Southridge put the game away.
Another steady effort came from Suns quarterback Jair Ealy-Thomas, a first-year starter who completed 10 of 18 passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns.
I was really impressed with (Ealy-Thomas) offseason work. He fought for the job and got it, Gonzales said. He impressed us all tonight.
Ealy-Thomas hit Bryce Overholt for the first score of the game, connecting on a quick out down the right sideline before Overholt ran the distance to the end zone to make it 7-0.
Kennewick drove 63 yards the other way to even the score, as Martin Althair hauled in an 18-yard TD pass from Dylan Tennancour to make it 7-7.
But Gonzales had a quick answer for that on the kickoff, finding a seam up the middle and racing for the score.
My coaches told me I was the first one in a couple years to do that, he said. It feels great to be the guy to break that drought. Even better to get the win.
Southridge coach Tony Reiboldt was pleased with the result especially the contribution from special teams and noted there is still room for plenty of improvement.
We talked a lot about playing to our potential, Reiboldt said. We still left a lot of chances unfinished.
Trenton Nett made a heads-up play on the Suns punt team, racing down the field after Southridge kicked away late in the second quarter. He noticed when Jake Baumans punt bounced off the foot of a Kennewick cornerback and leaped up to grab it, keeping the Southridge drive alive.
Three plays later, Diaz crossed the goal line to make it 20-7.
Were realizing our talent step by step, Gonzales said. We need other playmakers on the field. When we (get that), good things happen.
The Lions offense struggled for most of the night, going 3-and-out on five of its first six drives. Things got worse when Tennancour left the game in the third quarter after taking a hard sack by Overholt. Kennewick also played without Robby Calvert a two-way starter on the offensive and defensive line and lost All-MCC lineman Jacob Meise for much of the fourth quarter.
Althair led Kennewick receivers with 97 yards on five catches, but the Lions netted just 189 yards from scrimmage.
Kennewick 0 7 0 0 7
Southridge 7 13 14 0 34
SBryce Overholt 37 pass from Jair Ealy-Thomas (Nate Newbry kick)
KMartin Althair 18 pass from Dylan Tennancour (Alvaro Licea kick)
SClay Gonzales 87 kickoff return (Newbry kick)
SKadin Diaz 8 run (kick failed)
SGonzales 31 pass from Ealy-Thomas (Newbry kick)
SDiaz 31 run (Newbry kick)
RUSHINGK, Cody Albertin 1-5, Tennancour 9-(minus 1), Dwight Norwood 15-46, Raymond Gutierrez 2-3. S, Diaz 27-155, Ealy-Thomas 2-(minus 2), Jesus Espinoza 4-28, Awad Kori 5-5.
PASSINGK, Tennancour 7-11-0-74, Norwood 1-1-0-39, Josh Kutzke 3-7-0-23, Matthew Driver 0-1-0-0. S, Ealy-Thomas 10-18-0-154.
RECEIVINGK, Alex Ruby 3-13, Althair 5-97, Trevor Hammermeister 1-12, Norwood 2-14. S, Branden Kelly 4-48, Overholt 2-46, Daniel Getchell 1-8, Gonzales 3-52.
FIRST DOWNSK 10, S 16. FUMBLES-LOSTK 1-0, S 1-0. PENALTIES-YARDSK 2-15, S 6-35.