Sunnyside senior Armando Alvizar was born in Tucson and was an early childhood neighbor of his cousin, Angel Bracamontes Pulido.

“My cousin, I appreciate him,” said Alvizar. “I really have love for him.”

However, at age seven, Alviazar’s father got deported to Mexico, and Armando moved with him to Michoacan, a state in the western part of the country.

“I needed to learn a whole other language,” said Alvizar.

Alvizar spent much of his time helping his father on a lemon grove.

“To be honest, cutting lemons and being over there, especially on rainy days and being all muddy, it was hard to eat sometimes. There were days it was difficult to eat.”

What was good was the soccer. Armando learned the sport, and he sharpened his skills. As a teenager, he had an opportunity to come back to Tucson with his mother. Armando and his cousin, Bracamontes Puldio, reconnected.

“I was telling him to come over here to Sunnyside,” said Bracamontes Pulido. “You’ll actually put in some work and want to play soccer and have fun.”

“Armando is full of energy,” said Sunnyside head coach Casey O’Brien. “He’s super energetic. He’s always an impact guy. No matter where we are, he’s someone we can expect to be a leader and bring energy.”

Armando and Bracamontes Pulido, along with star player Sebastian Barrios, have helped Sunnyside earn the No. 1 ranking in the state. The Blue Devils are nationally ranked, and the upcoming state playoffs are a long ways away from cutting lemons in Michoacan.

“It inspired me to work so much harder,” said Alvizar.

Sunnyside hosts Boulder Creek in the first round on Tuesday.