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Derek Escamilla of Sunnyside High School on Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018. (Amanda Ray, Yakima Herald-Republic)

Derrick Escamilla could be found in all corners of the CBBN stat sheet last year, mingling among the leaders in rushing, kickoff returns and interceptions.

And from the backfield he was especially dangerous, ranking sixth in the league while averaging double-digit yards on each carry. With numbers like that it seemed as though the successor for Myles Alvarez, last year's top CBBN back, was squarely in place for Sunnyside.

But the Grizzlies have other plans. Other needs, actually, and their versatile ace is up for the challenge.

Escamilla will return to the backfield but as quarterback, a position he has never played but one his coaches feel can suit his multi-dimensional skills quite well.

"The idea came up at spring practice and it definitely felt weird," Escamilla said. "But I'm up for it. I can be a dual-threat type and I'm smart enough to pick up on things. I'm excited because I feel I can do this, and the team has my back."

It will help that Sunnyside has the CBBN's top returning receiver in Mikey Rivera, who caught 48 passes for 730 yards last season, and three veteran offensive linemen, led by first-team all-leaguer Damien Chavez.

For Escamilla, it's not just the steep-curve assimilation of the new position, it's the leadership that goes with it.

"The first thing was getting to know every single play in the book," he said. "You need to know everything and where everybody should be. I'm excited about that and also for being a leader for the whole team. I'm ready for that."

If it sounds like Escamilla has a big jump up to make, that's OK. He's done it before. After playing just a few snaps as a sophomore, he earned first-team all-league honors as a defensive back last year and was one of only two juniors picked for the first team.

"That kind of shocked me last year getting all-league," noted Escamilla, who had four interceptions. "I did put in a lot of work and really improved my movement and footwork. To handle both these positions this year I know I'll have to be in great shape."

Escamilla's conditioning shouldn't be much of a concern. The 5-foot-11 three-sport standout is one of the CBBN's top returning basketball players and he's turned out for track and tennis in the spring.

While Escamilla has new challenges and opportunities in football as a senior, it'll be the same in basketball. The all-league guard, who was also named to the CBBN's all-defense team, returns without big-time scorers Trey Sanchez and Art Palacios, his cousin.

"They were great players who taught me a lot," he said. "I'll have to take on more responsibility and be more of a leader, just like football. I have to bring what I learned forward and I'm excited about that."

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