Rematches usually are a good thing. This is a big rematch.
Last season, Chaparral went down to Tucson and beat Tucson Sunnyside on a "neutral" field in the 4A state playoff semifinals.
Three seasons ago, Chaparral beat Sunnyside in the state championship. Yes, these teams have a history.
If you read much into last week’s results, Chaparral should be a huge favorite. While defending state champion Chaparral was disposing of Shadow Mountain, 56-14, Sunnyside was taking its lumps in its annual 5A game, losing to Tucson Salpointe, 35-10.
Should much be read into those results? Yes. Chaparral’s pounding shows the Firebirds are hungry for another title, one which is theirs for the taking. Sunnyside’s loss against one of the state’s top 5A teams shows the Blue Devils aren’t as strong this season as they were in the last three.
Still, expect Sunnyside to push the Firebirds on every play.
"They’re a hard-nosed football team and they’re always fundamentally sound," said Chaparral coach Ron Estabrook. "You can’t afford to make mistakes against them.
"They outweigh us. It isn’t that they’re that small, quick team."
While this isn’t a playoff game, Estabrook figures this game will have plenty intensity, particularly since Sunnyside coach Richard Sanchez doesn’t want to be staring at 0-2.
"This is important for both of us," Estabrook said. "He’s not going to want two losses. We’re going to want momentum. We’re finding ourselves."
Unlike other Sunnyside teams which were small and fast, the Blue Devils are big and athletic. Still, Chaparral linebacker Dustin Kleven expects Sunnyside to be as aggressive as ever.
"They have size, but they’re still a feisty team," he said.
Chaparral knows a victory tonight would go far in its title quest. "They’re one of the top teams," said Kleven, "so it would help us with our confidence to beat them."