Jr. Panthers optimistic despite loss in opener

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Superior Sun

The Jr. Panthers football team fell behind early against Ray last week and was unable to come all the way back in the second half, eventually losing to the Jr. Bearcats, 36 – 14. Despite the loss, Jr. Panthers’ head coach Manuel Ortega was optimistic about his team going forward.

“The kids got some experience under their belt,” he said. “We have some more work to do, but it’s all up hill from here. They showed they can play ball. We just have to put it all together.”

Ortega said too many mistakes on the offensive side of the ball hurt his team against Ray. Cleaning up those errors is the challenge for the next game.

Mando Longoria scored the Jr. Panthers’ first touchdown of the year on a 60-yard run. Quarterback Sammy Lopez completed a pass to Cedric Mendoza on the successful 2-pt PAT. Daniel McConnell scored the Jr. Panthers’ other touchdown on a 45-yard reception from Lopez in the fourth quarter. The PAT failed.

McConnell also starred on the defensive side of the ball, pairing up with MLB Cedric Mendoza, who led the team in tackles. Cornerback Jesus Castellanos intercepted two passes in the game.

The Jr. Panthers will look rebound this week in their home opener on Wednesday, September 3. The game is scheduled for 6:00 p.m.

Andy Luberda (1024 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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