For Red Mountain, it's all about reaching the second level.
Whether it's the defense, the team's strategy, or running back Marcus Brantley; that elusive second level is the difference between losing and winning.
In its Division I first-round playoff game against visiting Tucson Sunnyside, Red Mountain found the second level and came away with a 45-19 victory.
"All year we have come out strong after half," said Red Mountain coach Ron Wisniewki. "We made our strategy adjustments."
At the start of the game, it did not appear as though Red Mountain would need that second level. By the end of the first quarter, Kory Ho's two touchdowns had the Mountain Lions leading 14-0.
Sunnyside managed one score before Brantley scored the first of his three touchdowns on a 40-yard run.
Sunnyside then found its version of the second level. With less than a minute to play in the half and in the span of 18 seconds, Sunnyside quarterback Christian Oropeza threw two touchdown passes to make the halftime score 20-19 in favor of Red Mountain.
"He (Sunnyside linebacker) Cedric Gonzalez was killing us," Wisniewski said.
After halftime, Red Mountain ran away from Gonzalez, which allowed Brantley to break loose.
"It was nice to get to the second level (of the defense)," Brantley said. "I know once I do that I will make things happen for the big O line."
Brantley led all rushers with 154 yards on 12 carries. He scored on runs of 40, 70 and 9 yards. In the second half, a 65-yard touchdown was called back due to a penalty.
As effective as Brantley and the Mountain Lion offense was, the defense was even more dominant.
In the first half, Sunnyside matched Red Mountain with both teams amassing more than 150 yards.
In the second half, nothing worked for Sunnyside's offense. The Blue Devils mustered only 35 total yards. Had it not been for a 35-yard run by Gonzalez with under two minutes left in the game, the Blue Devils would have had no second-half yards.