September 3, 2004
Here we go again. For the third time in 10 months, Chaparral and Tucson Sunnyside are meeting.
The last time they met was last fall when Sunnyside beat thenunbeaten Chaparral in the 4A state playoff semifinals. Sunnyside went on to win the state title, a title Chaparral earned in 2002 after beating Sunnyside in the semifinals.
"We are getting to know each other," quipped coach Ron Estabrook, whose Chaparral team beat Sunnyside four years ago in the state championship game.
Unlike in their previous meetings, Sunnyside enters tonight’s game as the favorite. That’s because the Blue Devils have nearly every starter back while Chaparral was hit hard by graduation.
"I think they have as good a team as we have ever seen," said Estabrook. "They just don’t have a weakness. They don’t have an area you can attack."
That was evident in Sunnyside’s opener last week. The Blue Devils rocked 5A Tucson Salpointe 38-14.
"They have good size and real good speed," said Estabrook. "Usually, that is an advantage for us against someone. If anything, they might be a little faster.
"They also have a good coaching staff. It’s a huge factor. A lot of times in high school, coaching can determine a game."
Chaparral looked pretty good itself in its opener last week, The Firebirds whipped Phoenix Shadow Mountain 37-0. Estabrook, though, said it was obvious the Firebirds’ offense will need a few weeks to really click.
Firebirds junior quarterback Nick Nuenfeldt said he and his teammates will be confident tonight.
"I think it’ll be a battle," said Nuenfeldt. "People expect us to go down there and lose, but it’ll be a game.
"It was nice to get a feel for varsity play before going down to Sunnyside."
Chaparral receiver Vince Coleman said tonight’s game is a great opportunity for the inexperienced Firebirds.
"It’s going to be a little tougher, but we still have to show up," said Coleman. "There have been some great games between the two schools. It’s going to be fun. Hopefully, we’ll get back on top."