San Manuel shows heart in win

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Christian Velasquez with Coach Williams and Big Red. Alize Velasquez | SMHS

  The No. 14-ranked San Manuel football team came from behind on two different occasions at Benson on Friday night before hanging on for its sixth-straight victory by defeating the Bobcats, 30 – 26.

  Benson, which was celebrating Homecoming, scored first before San Manuel answered to take a 7 – 6 lead. The Bobcats held a 12 – 7 lead before a 24-yard rushing touchdown by Miners’ senior running back Christian Velasquez gave his team a lead it would not relinquish.

  The Miners twice held 10-point leads in the second half before the Bobcats scored a meaningless touchdown inside the final minute of the game.

  “We put a lot of heart out there,” San Manuel head coach Daniel Williams told the Miner. “It was primarily due to our coaching staff getting together and making sure that we kept the guys pumped up.”

The San Manuel Cheerleaders at the game.

  Williams credited his defense and the defensive staff for the Miners’ win.

  “(The coaches) called a really good game,” he said.

  Velasquez, the Arizona Cardinals High School Player of the Week last week, followed up his 514 yard, nine touchdown performance with 237 yards and four touchdowns on 30 carries against the Bobcats.

  In his last three games, Velasquez has rushed for nearly 1,100 yards and 18 touchdowns. He’s the leading rusher in the state.

  Christian’s twin brother Gabe leads the state in tackles and added 18 more on Friday night.

  “He’s the fourth-leading tackler in the country,” Williams said about the Miners’ middle linebacker. “Gabe is the heart and soul of our defense.”

  Junior Michael Ochoa had two of the Miners’ five sacks in the game. Jose Damien, Colby Johnston and Luis Chavez each had one.

  The Miners are closing in on a playoff berth. The play their final road game of the season at Willcox this Friday, followed by home games versus Bisbee and No. 6 Santa Cruz Valley.

  The latter is the regular season-finale that likely will determine the Region Championship.

  “We just have to stick with the way we play,” Williams said. “We’ve been too busy playing at our opponents’ level and we need to focus on playing at our level.”

Up next:  San Manuel at Willcox on Friday, Oct. 6. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Christian Velasquez says that his teammates help him achieve this honor. Celeste Large | SMHS

Editor’s and Writer’s Note: In last week’s Miner, Christian Velasquez was misnamed throughout the story. It was an unintentional error and we sincerely regret the mistake. Of course we know who he is and are so very proud of this young man.

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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