Jr. Miners win CJHL football championship

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The San Manuel Junior High School Miners are the 2017 Central Junior High League Champions. Photo by Celeste Large

  The San Manuel Jr. High football team wrapped up a nearly perfect season by winning the Central Jr. High League Championship, defeating Hayden 46 – 8 on Oct. 24, in San Manuel.

The Jr. Miners were undefeated in league play (6 – 0) and finished the season 6 – 1, their only loss to Miami in what amounted to be no more than 11-man exhibition game.

San Manuel and Hayden battled it out last week for the CJHL Football Championship. San Manuel got the win and the first place trophy. Hayden placed second. Photo by Apuron Photography

  “We played very well, considering we played (Hayden) just two weeks ago,” San Manuel first-year head coach Freddy Burnham told Copper Basin News. “I was concerned we would enter the game a little overconfident.”

  The Jr. Miners squelched Burnham’s concerns early in the championship game, blocking Hayden’s punt on its first possession. Julian Vargas, an eighth-grader, scooped it and returned it for a touchdown.

  On San Manuel’s first offensive series, Noah Huerta took a double-reverse play 45 yards to increase the Jr. Miners lead and the rout was on.

  According to Burnham, the key to his team’s success this season was the offensive line, which allowed leading rusher Vargas to put up big numbers all season, including leading the league in touchdowns.

  Seventh-grade quarterback Isaiah Ramirez, was second on the team in rushing and led the San Manuel defense in tackles.

San Manuel and Hayden battled it out last week for the CJHL Football Championship. San Manuel got the win and the first place trophy. Hayden placed second. Photo by Apuron Photography

  The Jr. Miners’ defense was stingy all season, as it was in the championship game. It limited five opponents to 14 points or less, including on shutout. Defensive back Isaac Castillo had four interceptions on the season.

  San Manuel last won the CJHL Championship 10 years ago.

  “We came together as a team,” Burnham said about his team’s success. “Everybody was eligible all year, so that played a big part too in winning this season.”

  “The kids trusted each other and could count on their teammate to care of their responsibility, no matter what it was,” he added.

  Congratulations to the San Manuel football team:  Coaches – Freddy Burnham, Jr. Bejarano, Jeff Booth, and Earl Andrade. Players – Michael Cross, Ralphie Valencia, Isaiah Lopez, Isaiah Ramirez, Mathias Medina, Jose Atrian, Julian Vargas, Noah Huerta, Julien Stanford, Isaac Castillo, Andres Rodriguez, Anthony Aronson, Victor Fitts, Cristian Borboa, Rocky Andrade, Anthony Henson, Adrian Valencia, and Braydon LeGrand.

San Manuel and Hayden battled it out last week for the CJHL Football Championship. San Manuel got the win and the first place trophy. Hayden placed second. Photo by Apuron Photography

Andy Luberda (1032 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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