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Sahuarita youth football team honoring coach after sudden death

Playing in championship on Nov. 3
Posted at 9:41 PM, Oct 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-31 02:30:22-04

A youth football team in Sahuarita is dealing with the sudden death of an assistant coach, right before they play for the league title.

The Sahuarita Forty-Niners 12 and Under team is playing for a championship this weekend. But playing in the big game isn't just about winning for themselves, but for Coach Juan.

On Oct. 27, Juan Gonzalez collapsed and died during the game against the Redskins. 

"It was just a dire situation," George Rushing, the team's head coach said. "It was hard. The family was there, the stands were there, both teams were there."

Rushing says Coach Juan fell right next to him, with just a 1:30 left in the game. 

He says the boys are still processing the loss and one of Coach Juan's sons is on the team. The event was so traumatic, the coaches considered ending the season.

"After speaking to his wife, she wanted us to continue, she wanted her son to play in his father's name because he had sacrificed all he could toward his efforts, trying to win a championship," Rushing said. "He invested all of himself in his son, invested all he had."

Gonzalez was just 34-years-old. His cause of death has not yet been released. He's described as a family man and a coach who loved his team.

He helped coach the team to the title game and now they hope to bring home a win in his honor. 

If you'd like to donate to Coach Juan's family for funeral expenses, you can do so here.

The Sahuarita Forty Niners will face off against the Oro Valley Dolphins on Saturday, Nov. 3 at Tucson High School at 4 p.m.