Every time I catch a flight at Tucson International Airport, I browse the bookshelves and inevitably see Jay Dobyns’ compelling, “No Angel,” his account of a harrowing period in which he infiltrated a Hells Angels gang.
The former UA and Sahuaro High receiver, a former agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, is 52 now, the receivers coach at Salpointe Catholic High School. His mission has changed but his message hasn’t: Life is tough, keep plugging.
At Gate A-6 on Friday morning, Dobyns boarded a plane for Los Angeles, accompanying the Lancers for a meaningful game against L.A. power Crespi High School. The excitement was such that you could hear the young players chattering all the way down the concourse.
It was a lifetime weekend for many of the Lancers, one they’ll never forget.
The chance to play in such a high-profile game took Dobyns back to his high school days, 1977, when, as a Sahuaro sophomore, he prepared to play neighborhood rival Sabino. Two weeks before the game, Sahuaro’s star player, senior QB Rick Botkin, was killed when his pickup truck rolled on East Houghton Road. Several other Cougars were injured in the tragedy.
Sahuaro went into the Sabino game 0-7-1, and only suited up 24 players. The winless Cougars dedicated the game to Botkin’s memory and put such emphasis on preparation that they didn’t show up at Sabino until a moment before kickoff.
“We warmed up miles away, on our field, with the southern bank of lights off,” Dobyns remembers. “We didn’t want Sabino coach Ollie Mayfield to look down the hill and see our lights.
“We wanted to put some doubt in his mind.”
Heavily-favored Sabino rolled to a 12-0 halftime lead. But in the final minute, Sahuaro drove the length of the field to score, winning 13-12.
It was a week Dobyns and his teammates will likely never forget; they had never lost to the Sabercats.
Now, 36 years later, Friday night at Sahuaro, Dobyns’ old school lost its 11th consecutive game to its old rivals, 31-10.
To the disappointed Cougars, Dobyns would say the memory of his ex-teammate’s death should be a powerful reminder that high school football is just a game.