Undermanned Ray clinging to playoff berth following loss

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Bearcats Dakota Willis (45) and Romeo Williams-Varley (15) work to move the ball down field. Photo by Phalicitee ‘Pinky’ Thomas

  The No. 10 Ray football team suffered two losses last Friday night and now must hope a third can be averted.

  The Bearcats, who were handicapped from the start, were defeated by second-ranked Superior in their regular-season finale last Friday night, 56 – 14. As a result, the Copper Helmet will not return to Kearny for at least another year.

  “I think our boys stepped up big as far as intensity,” said Ray assistant coach Jimmy Fessenden. “The score might not reflect it, but we played hard and aggressive.

  “It’s hard enough to beat a team like Superior, but it’s even harder when you only have 12 kids dressed out.”

  As if the first two results aren’t bad enough, the 4 – 4 Bearcats must wait and hope that they don’t fall out of the top 12 when the final rankings are released on Oct. 16. Only the top 12 teams earn berths in the 1A playoffs, which begin on Friday, Oct. 19.

  “Come playoffs, assuming we get in, we should be healthy and ready to roll,” Fessenden said. “Our younger kids have gotten a lot of playing time these last few weeks and that should make us a deeper team.”

Johnavon Pace appears to direct. Photo by Phalicitee ‘Pinky’ Thomas

Andy Luberda (1080 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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