By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
The Falcons had three mammoth interior senior linemen who seemed poised to dominate opposing teams. Tre Fields and Emanuel "Shaq" Caddy had been with the program for three long years. Added to the mix was Marquise Douglass, a raw talent new to town from the Los Angeles area who weighed in at 290 pounds.
Matta had won playing time as a junior and proved he had ability. But he could be as skittish on the gridiron as a child wandering in the dark, not a good trait for a quarterback.
Bustillos was an enigma, a mostly likeable kid with a tendency to put his foot in his mouth around coaches and teammates. Clearly one of the Falcons' best players, Bustillos had won second-team All-Region honors in 2008 as a defensive back, no small feat on a winless team.
But Coach Dansby briefly had suspended the young man during the previous season for insubordination. After great deliberation, the coach granted Bustillos a reprieve this season, over the objections of some teammates who considered him a disruption.
Nestor Maldonado was another key. Another of the Falcons' two-way starters in 2008, Maldonado, a running back and linebacker, provided both a calming influence on those around him as well as demonstrating an exceptional will to succeed.
Coach Dansby greeted about 45 would-be players at the team's first official practice in late August. It was a typically sweltering afternoon, but the heat didn't seem to bother anybody.
It was time to play some football.
Certainly, it was a long way from four years earlier, when just that one lonely student showed up on the first day.
"Fellas, one thing up front. I do not run a nursery school here. I run a football team. I got no promises for you but one: If you stick with me and ride this out, you will have some memories for life, and I mean good memories. And I promise you that you will get closer to those guys standing next to you than you ever dreamed. You might even learn some football. Got it?"
"Yes, Coach!" the returnees answered, remembering the drill.
Coach Dansby and his team got bad news shortly before Carl Hayden's season opener against Rincon High in Tucson.
Nestor Maldonado, one of the squad's most important players, was done for the season because of a lingering wrist injury that hadn't healed properly.
Things went poorly in Tucson, as Rincon pummeled Carl Hayden 43-0.
Francisco Bustillos, the mouthy kid put on a short leash by Dansby after his previous season's antics, hammed it up in the locker room after the loss.
Under the circumstances, Bustillos' act played poorly with his teammates.
A few days later, the team confronted Bustillos at a players-only meeting before practice. They pointedly asked him whether he cared even a little about the butt-whipping handed the Falcons by Rincon, a mediocre team that would lose its next six games.
"I'm not all about the winning. I admit that," Bustillos said sheepishly, as he stood before his teenage tribunal. "I'm about playing some ball and chilling, okay? You guys want me out of here, I'm out."
Marcos Matta, the quarterback, shook his head.
"Dude, we lost 43-0. Ain't no time to be singing in the shower, or some such shit."
Big Tre Fields said softly, "Man, you can chill on your own time. We all chill on our own time. But this here, this is team time."
One thing about the Carl Hayden football team: Win or lose, its players are very tight, seemingly blind to skin color or ethnic origin.
For example, before the Rincon game, many players quietly donated what they could so one of the poorer players (none of them has much money) could pay for a mandatory physical exam.
Coach Dansby strolled in midway through the meeting, looking surprised.
"Team meeting, huh?" he asked. "Well, cut out the language now that I'm here, and don't be talking over each other. Pretend like it's the United Nations or a court of law or what have you."
Dansby retreated into his small office and shut the door behind him.
The players knew Bustillos' situation hadn't been easy: His mother decided months ago to leave Arizona for Compton, California, and he'd been living with some older pals at an apartment. It was remarkable that he showed up for school most days, much less practice.
But their compassion had limits.
In the end, Bustillos promised to try to turn his attitude around in the season's second game, against Trevor Browne.
The northwest Phoenix school has a proud football tradition but has been down on its luck (not nearly as down as Carl Hayden) for some time.
But the Bruins are much improved this year and whipped Carl Hayden 41-0 in a game most notable, perhaps, for what happened late in the fourth quarter.
It had it all. Congratulation to Paul Rubin. Your articles alone make me read Phoenix New Times. You are a Hit for that Paper.
Look forward to read from you - again...
You might have won San Luis one game, but come on you can not beat them in soccer. San luis is number one in soccer. Football is not known in san luis, it is not a big deal you have won one game to the weakest football team in AZ.
come on San Luis High School all always losing games. thehigh school is located in small poor community on the border of USA and Mexico. 100% of the population are hispanic were most work on the field or are illegals. They struggle every day to get enough money to eat, and football wasn't play there until five years ago when the high school was open. No ones know how to play football it isn't a big deal for them, as it is for this school that for just winning a game againstthis high school were no one knows how or have play football before high school. Come on get over it you are not the only school losing all games and just winning on game every 63 games. San luis high school only wins at maximum one game a year. And they don't make a big deal, because they know that they are more important thing in life than just a stupid football game that take five pages in newspaper.
Great story about a great man and his committment to kids. It is not always about wins and losses. It is about teaching young men about life and Dansby gets it. Men like him are not easily found. Far too many of these coaches are egotistical bastards who will chew kids up and spit them out to get a win. Most of them did not make it in their own quest and now want to live through the kids instead of for the kids. The simple thing is you can not bullshit the kids. If you care for them and show your love they will respond and play their heart out. All one has to do is look at the intensity on the field and you can usually tell if the players love and respect the coach.
Thank you for this artycle. My lil brother attends and Carl Hayden HS, and with regret to say that I'm part of the drop out stats from 2001. But I moved on to make a better person of myself.
It never really struck us to know the situations we lived in, untill reading the boldly stated words in your artycle.
It's great to know that everyone can see, we are not an ignorant race and can achieve what anyone else can, even if we have to work three times harder than everyone else, just to make it happen.
This story spoke to me on many levels. I am proud of what these young men are doing, and how thety are supportive. The circumstances of the entire CHHS community spoke to me through this story, and I have passed it to someone far away, but who is poised to come to the community and make a difference. Thank you, New Times.
it's high school football. who gives a shit. 99% will end up as used car salesmen or a circle k clerk or al bundy
And I'm sure you would turn it all around, right? I think the point of the story was that Carl Hayden even has a team, and that they try their hardest no matter what. I have no idea if the coach is a good one or a bad one, but he sounds like a decent enough guy and I loved what the players had to say. Great great story....
How can you give that head coach any credit, he has been with that school for how many years? and how many wins? what about the other squads, they HAVE WON GAMES. The coaches for the other squads are the ones who should get some credit, not this yahoo! Dansby should RESIGN!! and he should take nots from the other coaches on how to coach a squad!
Good article. I just wonder why race has to come up in every single article the New Times writes. I know that ever since Obama decided to run for office, it's been race, race, race, and race.
The players are "seemingly blind to skin color or ethnic origin." An example? They pitched in so another player would have enough money for a physical.
HUH? So the players don't "seem" racist, but they might be, and I'm just throwing this in there because they pitched in to help a teammate out. I JUST DON'T GET IT.
For a school entrenched in a crime-riddled community with a beleaguered outlook at best for most of these kids, a football program - even a losing one - can make the difference for these kids. It's nice to know they finally got that win. You have to feel for the coaches, though. Had to have been a tough haul. The biggest hero, though, is Principal Ybarra - I've seen a few news bits on him over the years, and he always manages to keep a positive perspective and unwavering support in these kids - knowing how necessary it is for schools to have programs that help kids reach beyond what is offered in their homes and neighborhood.
Great write-up & recognition. Kudos for seeing a sensational story doesn't have to have the sensationalized quality we've come to recognize as "news." Don't underestimate your readers - we do still like stories about real people.
Congratulations to the Carl Hayden players, fans and to Coach Dansby. Living proof that a winning record is not a reflection of character or heart. Coaches from other schools (like Cesar Chavez) should take note!
Greetings New Times: Many thanks to you and especially Paul Rubin for taking the time to recognize that one, single, solitary and possibly most important feat of triumph that some of these kids may ever experience. A single football win in some 67 attempts. Regardless of the turnout of the remaining games of the season, you guys at New Times granted them more than their (Warhol) alloted fifteen minutes of fame. What you've done for every one of these struggling young men goes far beyond the wrought iron and chain link confines that have become an unfortunate necessity for own their security. Your acknowledgment has touched their parents, their guardians and extended families, but beyond that it has reached even the local merchants and the general community, and in so doing has given us a small piece encouragement and hope in seeing some good come of this intentionally neglected area. In the grand and global scheme of worldly issues, Carl Hayden High and their Football Falcons have significance. In spite of their surroundings, Rubin's pen and ink will help carry them to the point of recognizing, they are important. Thanks again for noticing our community.
Sincerely, R.M. Pena,Carl Hayden, Class of '70
i know how hard it is.... i was on one those teams that was part of the losing streak.... keep ya head up falcons.....DAY BY DAY, WONT BE BEAT