Ray on wrong end of back-and-forth game in opener

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Ray High Bearcats

  The Ray football team played at Duncan in the 2019 season-opening football game for both teams last Friday night. The Wildkats erased a 14 – 0 deficit before having to hang on for a 26 – 20 victory against the Bearcats.

  “Although we did not come out on top, we saw quite a few positives,” Ray assistant coach Jimmy Fessenden told Copper Basin News. “We have a lot of new faces playing new positions.”

  After jumping out to a 14 – 0 lead in the first quarter on touchdown runs by Erik Manriquez and Alex Bravo, Ray allowed Duncan to score 26-unanswered points during the second and third quarters. 

  Ray closed within 26 – 20 in the fourth quarter on Manriquez’ second TD of the game. Later, the Cats were in position for a game-winning score, but a turnover with 30 seconds left in the game thwarted that opportunity. 

  Ray had other chances to pull out a win, but it saw a pair of touchdowns earlier in the game negated by penalties, and the inexperience of the Bearcats showed in the middle quarters.

  “We need to work on playing hard all four quarters, and we are stepping up our conditioning.,” Fessenden said.

  Fessenden added his team needs to improve its timing on offense and its communication of defense improve before its next game.

  “We are doing that this week and will continue to improve each week,” he said.

  After a game like last Friday’s, the Cats can rely on what the coaching staff believes is this team’s greatest strength.

  “Our strength is the team wants to improve and is willing to work hard to do just that,” Fessenden said. “We have team speed on both sides of the ball and our attitudes are good. Coach Lechuga and I are pleased with the team chemistry.”

Up next:  Ray visits Mogollon on Friday, Aug. 30. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Andy Luberda (1120 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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