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Playoffs or bust: Buena Colts prepared for Catalina Foothills in season debut

SIERRA VISTA — Confidence runs through the Buena High School football team’s locker room, because they know if they execute on Friday nights they’ll be tough to beat.

“This is the year,” said head coach Joe Thomas. “It’s year five. We know what we have to do. We have to play Buena football.”

The reason there’s no excuse for missing the postseason? Everyone on the field has gone through Thomas’ system.

“It’s nothing new,” he said. “We know what we have to do, we just have to execute. If we do what we’re supposed to, then we put ourselves in position to win and stay in games.”

So what is Buena football? According to three of the four team captains — Jovoni Borbon, Jesse Avina and Blake Yeagley — Buena football is intense, dedicated, committed and a family.

The trio all agree that the biggest improvement the team has over last year’s squad is the comradery they have with one another. Yeagley says being close with one another will help them on the field because can communicate and play more cohesively, which will be a major factor gearing up for the season opener Friday at Catalina Foothills.

“The team chemistry and how we’ve been bonding this summer I think will help us win,” Avina said. “We need to play as a team to win.”

Borbon agreed.

“We are all on the same page,” he said. “This year is our year.”

Buena finished he 2018 season with a 5-5 overall record and No. 21 in the 5A Conference, after spending most of the season in the top 20. The season ended on a sour note, a two-game losing streak and unexpected loss to Sunnyside — which finished the season right behind them in the rankings at No. 22. Avina and Buena hope to avenge that loss at the end of their season during a rematch on Senior Night.

“We’re not afraid of anyone,” Avina said. “We’re going to go into every game with a chip on out shoulder.”

All five region games — against Apollo, Marana, Cienega, Nogales and Sunnyside — are going to be crucial for the Colts and their playoff chances. Buena has not made the playoff since Thomas took over the program four years ago. Buena won just two of their five region games last year — their first was an upset over Marana on the road.

Buena’s defense will be one of the main strengths for the team this year. The defensive line is comprised of all seniors including Damien Brown, who made a name for himself last season. Avina, listed at 6-foot-3, will also be a key at the defensive end position, helping contain the run which was troublesome at times for the Colts last season.

Avina will also be one of Borbon’s targets as a tight end. However, Avina won’t be the Colts only offensive threat, as both Borbon and Thomas are excited about sophomore receiver Keyon Taylor.

“I don’t think I’ve thrown to a receiver like him at Buena,” Borbon said. “We don’t have just one good receiver or one running back. We have a lot of players that are good.”

Buena opens their season Friday at Catalina Foothills, a team they lost to last year in Sierra Vista. Borbon is determined to win as he said the Colts have not won their opener during his time at Buena.

“If we run hard, hit hard and our defense plays good, we’ll win,” Borbon said.

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