The Sunnyside community is mourning the loss of two of their very bestby Andy Morales on Jun. 26, 2012, under Sports
Rocky Samorano was the all-star defensive lineman and Manny Aguilar was the standout running back who ran behind Jovan Stevenson (Oregon State) during the 2006 championship run for the Blue Devils.
Sunnyside came up short to Centennial that day but it was still a remarkable run for a proud team and a proud community. In the great scheme of life – with everything that may seem fair or unfair – coming up short in a football game does not reflect on what is important and on what is not.
A game is just a game, no matter how big it may seem.
According to reports from the Eastern Arizona Courier, Samorano and Aguilar died on Monday in a head-on crash between Clifton and Morenci on US 191. According to the report, the locals call that stretch “Horseshoe Curve.”
Samorano and Aguilar collided with a large service truck around 3 pm. Aguilar was pronounced dead soon after and Samorano died at a Safford hospital.
There was a candle light service for the two young men Tuesday night on the football field that they called home not too long ago and funeral services are still being arranged.
Aguilar’s mother, Marina, talked about her son’s troubles as a lost freshman to the Citizen’s Geoff Grammer in 2008:
“It wasn’t that it was just football, it was that it was the Sunnyside football program…I know I’m a good role model and we would have found a way, but I also know he needed some strong male role models in his life. With the Sunnyside football team, they care for the kids. It’s a big family and he needed that.”
Manny responded: “She basically told me I better do what my coaches told me to do…we put our trust in them and I’ve loved being a part of this team. This is my family.”
Manny finished that interview by saying: “It’s gone too fast since that freshman year…but I’ll remember the summers, the practices with my teammates. All the fighting, all the running on the track, the tears we cried together, the blood we shed together.
“The hard work. That’s what I’m going to look back on and miss the most.”
Sunnyside is a big family. So is Southern Arizona.
I started this out by stating that the Sunnyside community is in mourning. I was wrong – we are all in mourning for, today, we are all part of the Sunnyside community.
Manny was right. Life does go by fast. But, no matter how fast it may seem to a child, every moment is here and gone in the eyes of a parent – every moment.
We look back and realize all that “work” was not hard at all. No, the hard work began today for the parents and family of Manny and Rocky.
They call Rocky “Big Rock.”
We, who are just friends and witnesses to their heroics on the football field and to everything else that young men get into while living life, must now be the rock for their families. Our sorrow may be real but our strength must be reserved for them.
Manny and Rocky, we have all loved being a part of your team. You are our family.
NOTE: My oldest brother, Hector, played football at Sunnyside under the legendary coach Paul Petty and the rest of my older siblings (Debra and Carlos) graduated form there also. My little brother, Javier, is a Sunnyside alum also and he now writes about University of Arizona athletics. I attended Los Ranchitos Elementary and Sunnyside Junior High before our family moved to Maryland.