Bill McCulloch Pueblo High School Tucson, AZ
Where were you in the Fall of 1992? None of the players on the field tonight at Pueblo High School were even born. In ’92 the Warriors beat the Blue Devils and have not won in this Southside rivalry since.
Tonight Big Brother came in confident and off an impressive win over Nogales. Little Brother had other ideas tonight. “Not this year and not on our field!”
Both teams couldn’t score and were constantly shooting themselves in the foot by untimely penalties and superior defense in the first half to go into the locker room scoreless.
Early in the second half, it was same story as one drive would start and silly motion penalties would ultimately lead to change of possessions via the punt, or on downs.
With 8:50 left in the third quarter, the Blue Devils struck first by kicking a field goal, but had stopped themselves from a possible touchdown once again by the dreaded penalty. Sunnyside had gained control off a Warrior fumble and got great field position, but got the minimum out of the maximum.
Next Pueblo possession, they fumbled again at their own twenty yard line. The Blue Devils smelled blood, but the mental errors continued in three consecutive motion penalties and a third down run only gained a scant five yards on a third and twenty five.
With the ball resting on the thirty, the field goal team came trotting on the field. This would be a forty seven yard attempt, which in high school may as well be a mile. With a twenty five yarder under his belt, he calmly put his whole foot into the kick and it was good from forty seven yards with plenty to spare.
That in itself could have burst the bubble of the Warriors with precious opportunities up to this point almost non-existent.
Then came the ray of hope the Warriors had waited three and a half quarters for. A Sunnyside punt gave the ball back to Pueblo with a little over five minutes to play. Coach Brandon Sanders knew what he had to do. With their power back bursting through the first line of the Blue Devil defense, he ran for forty five yards to the Sunnyside twelve yard line. Three plays later from the two, the Warriors pushed it over for the game tying score.
The point after was not a gimme and the thought of going for two points entered the minds of many in the stands. Pueblo’s place kicker kicked the ball just inside the right upright and the Warriors suddenly led with three and a half minutes to go. The game still up in the air and would bad luck strike again as it did last season with a late turnover that gave the victory to Sunnyside 10-6.
The 6A Blue Devils were the bigger and stronger team. After a high but short kick off that was basically fair caught at the Sunnyside twenty, out came the offense full of confidence and not showing any nervousness.
A long pass attempt was initially caught, but not completed as the receiver couldn’t maintain control. Near miss, or confidence booster? That latter held true as the Warriors would bring pressure from the outside and sack the Blue Devil’s signal caller in consecutive downs. Fourth down for the game yielded no success that this rivalry has given the Blue Devils since 1992.
With time winding down, but Pueblo still needing to gain a first down to seal the deal, the Warriors dug down, stayed together and performed as they were mentored at practice by former Arizona Coach Dick Tomey earlier in the week. The elusive final first down was all theirs and the weight of the past twenty five years was gone.
This win was not only for the 2017 Warriors, but for all their older brothers, cousins and friends of past teams that went down in defeat.
The Southside’s two oldest schools played a somewhat sloppy game, but all will be forgotten on the Columbia Blue and Navy sidelines and into next week at school on 12th Ave.
Little Brother has the crown for now and from the look on the field and into the stands, these are the “New Pueblo Warriors.” Take note, for some special things are brewing at the smaller 3A school and you will have to wrestle the crown away in future seasons.