Bearcats start football season

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Copper Basin News

It’s that time of the year, time for school to start, monsoons, 100-plus degree temperatures, and football. Bearcats’ head coach Willie Jordan had his team on the field Monday for the first official practice of the 2014 season.

“Summer is over and those players who participated in football camp will have an advantage,” Jordan said in advance of the start of the season. “We will see who has the stamina and the work ethic to fill in the rest of the roster.”

Jordan, who was named the Division VI, Section IV Coach of the Year returns for his fourth season leading the Bearcats’ program. His coaching staff from last year returns as well and includes assistants Jason Wernett, Jimmy Fessenden, Freddy Cruz, and Michael Hing.

“These dedicated individuals donate their time and energy to teaching our student-athletes to believe in themselves with an understanding that hard work will make them better players,” Jordan said in an email to the Copper Basin News.

The Bearcats enter the 2014 season with high expectations after going 8 – 2 and reaching the quarterfinals of the state playoffs in 2013. Returning players Destry Yocum, Seth Harmon, Jacob Pace, and Robbin Newman earned All-Section honors in 2013. This quartet figures to lead a Bearcats’ team looking to replace 12 players who graduated, including 2013 Section IV Player of the Year Dominic Bravo.

Replacing a large number of players off last year’s roster may present the biggest challenge for Jordan and his staff. It’s a task made more difficult without a JV program to draw from. Developing a reliable receiving corps and a strong group of running backs will be a priority during fall camp.

“The development of the underclassmen from this school year and beyond will have an impact on the years to come,” Jordan said.

Yocum is one of the top returning signal callers in the state and will be counted on by the coaching staff to help the Bearcats’ achieve their season’s goals. Harmon will pull double-duty on offense, playing receiver and fullback. Pace, the lone returning senior lineman, also serves as the team’s kicker. Newman, a running back, led the Bearcats in rushing in 2013. Jordan is expecting seniors Jose Torres, Douglas McPeak, Steven Lucero, and Trison Gantt to have breakout seasons in 2014.

On defense, the Bearcats need playmakers to step up at the linebacker position and along the defensive line.

The running game on both sides of the ball should tell the tale for the Bearcats this season. If they are able to continue with their explosive running game on offense and can stop the run on defense, they should reach their goals in 2014.

2014 Schedule Note: Due to some schools not being able to field a team in 2013 (after originally declaring they could) and causing last minute cancellations, the AIA has decided to wait until AFTER the first week of practice before releasing the 2014 Division VI schedules. There may be some sectional realignment as well. The 2014 schedules, and any realignment, are expected to be released on August 8, 2014. The Copper Basin News will publish the schedules for the local schools as soon as they are available.

Andy Luberda (245 Posts)

Andy Luberda began writing for Copper Area News Publishers (CANP) in February 2013 after working15 years in Healthcare Financial Management. Andy covers sports for eight high schools. His stories are published in the Southeast Valley Ledger, Copper Basin News, San Manuel Miner and Superior Sun. Additionally, he has written human interest stories and business profiles. In May 2012, he earned an AAS in Sports Management at Central Arizona College. Andy is currently earning a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from ASU’s Hugh Downs School of Communication. Andy is scheduled to complete his degree December 2014. He was born and raised in Des Plaines, Ill. In 1992, he relocated to Arizona. After a short return to Des Plaines in 1997, he returned to the Phoenix area two years later. He and his wife, Kelli, have three sons – AJ, Kyle, and Kade.

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