Sahuarita, Walden Grove have makings of next big football rivalry

Sahuarita, Walden Grove have makings of next big football rivalry


Sahuarita, Walden Grove have makings of next big football rivalry


The city of Sahuarita is having a remarkable year in football. Sahuarita High is 8-0, two years after going 0-10, and headed to the Division III playoffs. The new school, Walden Grove, is 5-3 and with a good shot at making the Division IV playoffs with a 13-seed currently.

More remarkable, Walden Grove is in its first year playing varsity football and doesn’t have a senior class yet.

The opening of Walden Grove took players that would be at Sahuarita right now. It also took Chris Sargent to be its head coach. Sargent was defensive coordinator and strength coach at Sahuarita in 2010.

If Walden Grove hadn’t opened, Sahuarita would be sitting at about 1,900 enrollment and basically growing out of its building. Now there are 1,000 students at Sahuarita and about 860 at Walden Grove and an abundance of building space for students.

Next year, when a new two-year alignement and scheduling block is in place, the two schools will meet for the first time in a varsity football game. They are hoping to kick off the season.

"It’s a bed of coals right now," Sargent said. "There are sure to be flames starting next year."

Sargent’s goal before the season was to go 5-5. He thought that was a pretty lofty goal. But now at 5-3, he said that has changed.

David Rodriguez has done a remarkable job building Sahuarita’s program after it sunk to 0-10. He took over the program last year and led the team to a winning record.

Sahuarita has relied mainly on two playmakers — Aric Howard and Christopher Snodgrass. Snodgrass is 18 yards from 1,000 rushing this season. Howard had a 94-yard scoring catch and a kickoff return for a touchdown in last week’s game. Sahuarita is the sixth seed in Division III with games to play against Tucson Pueblo and Tucson Catalina.

Families in Sahuarita now are going to have to choose which school to send their children.

"It is a common dynamic in other communities but it is new down here," Rodriguez said. "However, it will become a very exciting rivalry between the two schools and just might end up the opening game of the season next year if it all lines up. Will make for exciting times."

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