When — or should it be if? — Glenn Posey loses to neighborhood rival Desert View it will be the first time.
The Sunnyside coach, in his sixth season coaching his alma mater, carries a 6-0 record as a player and coach into Friday’s 7 p.m. game at Desert View. The schools — only three miles apart — renew a rivalry that has Sunnyside ahead 14-3 but Desert View, under former Blue Devil assistant Robert Bonillas, has won two of the last three meetings.
“This is huge for our district. It’s important,” said Posey, who is not shy in general, especially when talking about his unblemished record against the Jaguars.
“Our kids grew up together. They know each other. They played ball together. They are their cousins and friends. For our guys, it’s super important. We just don’t like losing to them. Period. We expect to win.”
Posey’s team beat the Jaguars 51-0 in 1985 and 40-7 in 1986 in his junior and senior seasons with the Blue Devils in which he was one of the top receivers/defensive backs in Southern Arizona. He had a pick-6 in the 1986 victory at Desert View.
As a coach, Posey holds victories from 2011 (when the series resumed after a 17-year hiatus) through 2014. The teams did not play in 2015, the first year in which Posey left Sunnyside to be an assistant coach at Pima College. He has returned to coach the Blue Devils this season.
The combined score of the six games in which Posey has participated in the rivalry — Sunnyside 269, Desert View 40. That’s an average score of about 45-7.
Most of Desert View’s staff has Sunnyside ties either as coaches or former Blue Devils. Posey presently has bragging rights with them but it’s a respectful competition trying to beat each other.
“All of those guys were part of the Sunnyside family and part of our legacy, a state championship legacy,” Posey said. “Those guys did a great job building this program and putting us on the map. So we have much love for those guys. They are the pillars of this program. We’ve stood on their backs for a long time, based on what they did.
“And Bo (Bonillas) came over and coached us from Nogales. He was a great member. We work together well and we’re good friends.”
After coaching at his alma mater Nogales in 2001 and 2002, Bonillas, a four-year letterman at Arizona under late coach Dick Tomey from 1995-98, joined Richard Sanchez‘s staff at Sunnyside. He coached the special teams and both lines at Sunnyside from 2003-2010 with Sanchez and in 2011 after Posey was hired.
Bonillas was hired as Desert View’s head coach in 2012. He has made the rivalry more competitive with a 2-4 record against the Blue Devils after losing last year’s close game 20-13 at Kino North Stadium (relocated there from Sunnyside after lightning and heavy rain postponed the regularly-scheduled game).
“There’s a lot of emotion going through it,” Bonillas said of the rivalry. “They’ve been playing since Pop Warner all together and now they are on different sidelines. Now, they know they better win. They have to rely on their buddies and teammates to make it happen.”
That emotion includes the coaching staffs because they operate so close together and come in contact being in the same district. They make themselves visible at the Sunnyside Unified School District’s middle schools to draw potential talent to their schools.
Given their background together at Sunnyside, Posey and Bonillas operate with mutual respect.
“It’s one of those weeks we might not say much to each other, but after this week, everything is back to normal,” Bonillas said.
While Posey is trying to restore the culture he knows from his Sunnyside days as a player and coach, Bonillas is continuing his attempt to make Desert View a consistent winner.
Sunnyside has played a game — losing last week at Campo Verde 41-26 after the game was tied at halftime — while the Duel in the District will be the season opener for the Jaguars.Sunnyside starts a freshman at quarter back — Deion Conde — who passed for 113 yards last week and Posey relies primarily on underclassmen. Senior running back Martin Arvizu (43 yards on 13 rushes against Campo Verde) returns after gaining 66 yards against Desert View last season, including a 30-yard touchdown run.
“It’s going to be very intense with two southside teams going at it to see who is a better team, better overall,” Arvizu said. “I know a couple of guys on that team. … Since we’re on the southside, we all know each other. It’s going to be a real good competition.
“We grew up with each other. Same neighborhoods. It’s going to be a really good game.”
Sunnyside junior defensive back Ricky Escalante, one of Posey’s leaders on defense despite his lack of varsity experience, will get his first taste of the rivalry. He said the game will be a “dogfight.”
“It’s going to be an aggressive game,” he said. “We just have to be ready to get them.”
Bonillas will rely on a strong junior class that includes quarterback Ryan Corral and tight end/defensive end Noah Saucedo and an up-and-coming quarterback/linebacker combo in sophomore Anton Jamero.
“It’s actually kind of funny. My family kind of splits between Desert View and Sunnyside,” Corral said. “I definitely have some family that go over there. I know some kids that go there. I hope to bring home bragging rights but it’s definitely a thing of 50-50 on both sides.”
Some like rivalry games at the end of the season to cap either a good year or salvage a season with a victory.
Saucedo, one of the most philosophical high school athletes I’ve come across, welcomes the game against Sunnyside as Desert View’s opener.
“To start off the season, it’s great for us to get our momentum and to understand that this whole thing we’re doing, this whole program, isn’t just for us, it’s for our kids, our parents to show that the time we spend out here isn’t about winning or losing,” Saucedo said. “It’s about who is going to become a better man at the end of the day.”
DUEL IN THE DISTRICTThe series between Desert View and Sunnyside in football (home team in CAPS)
* Game at Kino North Stadium
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.