Miners’ playoff chances take a hit after loss

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The 2017 Royalty includes King Maxwell Fisher and Queen Cassandra Guerrero; Senior Attendants, Christian Velasquez and Clarissa Lizarraga; Junior Attendants, Samantha Roan and Michael Ochoa; Sophomore Attendants, Alize Velasquez and Jose Moreno; and Freshmen Attendants, Jessica Corona and Gilbert Rodriguez. Photo by Karen Young

  The No. 13-ranked San Manuel football team is in danger of missing the state playoffs following last Friday’s 50 – 34 loss against No. 21 Bisbee on Senior Night.

  The Miners, who at one time this season appeared to be a lock to reach the playoffs, now face a likely must-win game this week versus undefeated and No. 4-ranked Santa Cruz, one of the favorites to win the 2A State Championship.

The Miners take the field. Photo by Apuron Photography

  The top-16 teams earn playoff berths, and after their loss on Friday, the Miners might fall outside that group. Another loss to the Dust Devils would almost definitely leave San Manuel on the outside looking in.

Bridger Davis (#15) dives with the ball while Alejandro Camacho (#8) looks on. Photo by Apuron Photography

  On Friday night, the Pumas limited San Manuel running back and Player of the Year candidate Christian Velasquez to a season-low 80 yards rushing. The Pumas defense also had five sacks, two interceptions and a fumble recovery as further evidence that their defense slowed the high-scoring Miners’ offense.

  Sophomore Benny Laguna led the Miners with 211 all-purpose yards and a pair of touchdowns – one rushing and one receiving. Velasquez, Bridger Davis and Caleb Quintero also rushed for scores.

  Laguna, Julian Rodriguez and Michael Ochoa each finished with a team-high 13 tackles on defense.

The ‘M’ is lit. Photo by Apuron Photography

Andy Luberda (1068 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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