It was just last Saturday when Sahuarita 49ers 12 and under youth football assistant coach Juan Gonzalez collapsed on the field in the fourth quarter of a playoff game.
The thirty-four-year-old passed away from what was determined to be a brain aneurysm. With the urging of Coach Juan's wife, the 49ers decided to play their city title game against the Oro Valley Dolphins on Saturday at Tucson High School.
Before the game, the 49ers honored Coach Juan by releasing balloons into the sky. Down 8-6 in the fourth quarter, the 49ers Jaxon Banhie scored his second touchdown of the game, and later made an interception to preserve a 12-8 win.
"I was thinking of Coach Juan the whole time," said Banhie. "Every single play, I was thinking of him. I knew he was up there caring for us."
"The players really dug deep and this was for Juan," said an emotional head coach George Rushing. "He practically gave his life for this. We did it. I'm glad we did it for these kids. They put their hearts into it and I'm glad we were able to pull it out."
There is a Go Fund Me link on Rushing's facebook page to help send the team to the national championships in Florida.