The No. 8-ranked Hayden football team defeated its rival, the seventh-ranked Ray Bearcats, last Friday night in a come-from-behind 20 – 14 victory.
The Lobos were punched “in the mouth” at the start by the Bearcats, according to Hayden head coach John Estrada.
“We came out really flat and made a lot of mistakes,” Estrada told the Copper Basin News. “We stuck to our game plan, made some adjustments at half time, and finished very strong.”
“I was very proud of our kids,” he added. “They kept their composure and kept playing hard. The tables turned in the second half and the Bearcats didn’t have an answer.”
After their loss last week to Ft. Thomas, the Lobos were playing a nearly must-win game versus Ray for more than one reason.
“It was a big game for us,” Estrada said. “Not only win and make it to the playoffs, but more because it was the Ray Bearcats. Our boys proved they are resilient by coming back from a 14-point deficit. They kept playing hard and got the job done.”
The Lobos’ win sets up a rematch with No. 9 Ft Thomas, a team they played just two weeks ago in a 56 – 42 defeat.
Is the recent familiarity an advantage or disadvantage for Hayden?
“It could go either way,” Estrada answered. “It’s the playoffs; the team that wants it more will come out victorious.”
What must the Lobos do differently this time versus the Apaches?
“We’ll need to do our jobs,” Estrada responded. “We can’t come out flat. It’s do or die from here on out. Our offense needs to be clicking, our defense needs to do its job, and most importantly, (we need to) play Hayden football and hit.”
Ray will host No. 10 Valley Union on Saturday, Oct. 21, at 6 p.m.
Hayden will play at No. 9 Ft. Thomas on Friday, Oct. 20. That kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.