— Brandon Sanders (@coachBSanders18) November 23, 2019
— Andy Morales (@AndyMorales8) September 14, 2019
Brandon Sanders was, and is, the face of Desert Swarm. Literally. When Sports Illustrated came calling in August of 1994, Sanders landed a sacred spot on the cover of the College Football Preview edition along with legendary teammates Tedy Bruschi, Sean Harris, Jim Hoffman and Tony Bouie.
He went on to play with the NY Giants for three seasons and he was an All-XFL defender for the Las Vegas Outlaws. Then, in the summer of 2014, Pueblo High School decided to take a chance.
.@PuebloFootball coach Brandon Sanders on his "team" standards and philosophy which were influenced by Texas Tech coach Matt Wells when he was at Utah Sate and Sanders attended one of his clinics. Wells attended last week's game at Pueblo when the Red Raiders were in Tucson. pic.twitter.com/zk23FxJx0m
— Javier Morales (@JavierJMorales) September 21, 2019
Winning three games a year was the norm at Pueblo. From 2004 to 2013, the Warriors averaged 2.7 wins a year and it was looked down upon by the “experts” as just a “southside” school located on the famed 12th Avenue. The avenue is unmatched in Tucson for its Mexican Food, tortillas and pastries, but Pueblo, like other inner-city schools like Palo Verde and Catalina, got little positive media attention.
Pueblo was simply on the wrong side of the railroad tracks.
Sanders guided his Warriors to seven wins in 2014 and the program earned a playoff berth the following year, breaking a 25-year drought. His team won eight games in 2017, breaking a 29-year span that only saw one seven-win season. Incredibly, he led his program to another eight-win season this year.
2019 COACH of the YEAR
Pueblo @PuebloAthletics Brandon Sanders @coachBSanders18 Vern Friedli So AZ Coach of the Year @FrognFirkinAZ 5A @rurangerfb Mike Strack 4A @CoachNobleWGHS Corey Noble 3A @SabinoFootball1 @Coach_McBrayer 2A @BensonBobcat Chris Determan 1A Pete Delgado-Babo https://t.co/dJHOwQ3i9D pic.twitter.com/Lr1xUzjtuT
— Andy Morales (@AndyMorales8) November 10, 2019
In all, Sanders went 41-22 with two region titles, three playoff appearances and two eight-win seasons. It’s unclear what the future holds for Sanders but he released a statement describing how he went out on his own terms:
Southern Arizona football vacancies: Tanque Verde, Salpointe, Cholla, Pueblo and Pusch Ridge.
— Arizona Athletics (@AZATHLETICS) August 10, 2013
Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014, he was awarded the Ray McNally Award in 2017, a 2019 AZ Education News award winner and he has been a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. His own children have won multiple state high school championships and were named to all-state teams. Competing in hockey, basketball, baseball and track & field in high school, his unique perspective can only be found here and on AZPreps365.com. Andy is the Southern Arizona voting member of the Ed Doherty Award, recognizing the top football player in Arizona, and he was named a Local Hero by the Tucson Weekly for 2016. Andy was named an Honorary Flowing Wells Caballero in 2019. Contact Andy Morales at email@example.com