Hayden beats rival Ray; remains undefeated with championship rematch next

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It’s the battle of the 33s: Hayden’s Jando Felix (#33) and Ray’s Jorge Rodriguez (#33) battle for control of the ball as Alex Bravo (Ray #44) and Moses Gonzalez (Hayden #55) come in to assist.

  The Hayden football team entered last Friday’s game in Kearny against rival Ray undefeated and the Lobos remained that way after a one-sided 60 – 14 victory.

  Now 6 – 0, the Lobos will look to make it seven-straight victories without a loss this Friday, but it won’t be easy with defending state champion Superior visiting Winkelman in a rematch of last year’s state title game.

  Last Friday’s game was close early, as evidenced by the 8 – 6 score at the end of the first quarter. The Lobos turned it on the jets after that, outscoring the Bearcats 52 – 8 during the final three quarters. 

  “I thought we started off well and then the wheels fell off,” Ray assistant coach Jimmy Fessenden told Copper Basin News. “We have no excuses. We got beat.”

  Johnavon Pace and Alex Bravo each scored a touchdown for the Cats.

Ray’s Eric Manriquez (#21) works to bring down Hayden’s Gilberto Carmelo (#12). Jorge Rodriguez (Hayden #33), Johnny Chester (Ray #15) and Johnavon Pace (Ray #24) come in to assist their teammates.

  The 60 points tallied by the Lobos is a season-high, which is impressive considering they were without starting quarterback AJ Castillo, who missed his second consecutive game with an injury.

  “Next man up,” Hayden head coach John Estrada said. “Our kids have adjusted and are working hard. They’re fighting through the adversity.”

  Are they ever. 

  The Lobos are averaging 48 points per game without two-year starter Castillo leading the offense.

  Junior Manuel Guillen, who replaced Castillo as the starter, threw three touchdowns, including a pair to Vincente Aguirre and another to Malachi Carmelo. Jorge Rodriguez tan for a trio of touchdowns and Gibby Carmelo ran for one. Julian Gonzales added a defensive touchdown on a scoop-and-score. 

  “(The) team played well,” Estrada said. “We controlled the tempo of the game. Boys did their job, we stuck to our game plan, and came out victorious.

  “Once again our line dominated the trenches. We attacked Ray’s strength, and it didn’t have an answer to stop us.”

  “When Castillo went down, we didn’t think their passing game would be strong, but as you can see it was,” Fessenden said. 

  Hayden will need to continue that type of production and perseverance against a Panthers’ defense that seems to have found its groove the last two games after allowing more than 100 points in back-to-back games earlier this season. 

  “We’ll need to play at our best come Friday; no mistakes and we’ll need to do our jobs,” Estrada said. 

  The Cats face a near must-win game this week, especially with the regular-season finale at defending state champion Superior the following week. 

  “Friday is huge,” Fessenden said. “If we want to make the playoffs, we need to win at least one more game. We have put (last) Friday behind us and are focusing on Arete Prep, which is another good team.”

  The 1A East Region Championship is at stake for Hayden this Friday, and likely a top-seed in the playoffs, which begin later this month. 

Up next, Ray:  Arete Prep on Friday, Oct. 4. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.  

Up next, Hayden:  Superior on Friday, Oct. 4. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Andy Luberda (1123 Posts)

Andrew Luberda began writing for Copper Area News Publishers (CANP) in February 2013 after working 15 years in Healthcare Financial Management. Andy covers sports for 11 high schools. His stories are published in Copper Basin News, San Manuel Miner and Superior Sun, in addition to the San Tan Valley Daily PRSS and CopperArea websites. Additionally, he has written human interest stories and business profiles. In May 2012, he earned an AAS in Sports Management at Central Arizona College before graduating with a BS in Communication from Arizona State University in 2014. He and his wife, Kelli, have three sons – AJ, Kyle, and Kade.


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