Sports Stories 2009-2010

Playoff Pitstop:
After a post-season slump, the girls soccer team ends the season with State playoff attempt
By Monica Contreras (02.19.10)
Assistant coach for girls soccer Carlos Gonzalez had the bitter edge of the team’s curtain call season. The Metro Region title was not enough to satisfy his State aspirations. His girls’ 5-0 season wrap-up was hard to swallow.

Gonzalez did begin his 12-game season with two losses, one against Gilbert (0-11) and another to Westview (0-10). That meant it was back to the drawing board. After a few weeks and 9 wins later the girls had built an idea of momentum. Most wins were at an average gap of about 3 points. It neared completion with their Camelback game, a 3-2 rewarding match-up that fit the idea of it also being Senior Night. By that time, the girls claimed the Metro Region title, and the team was sure they had determination checked off.

Early season ways crept back at the worst possible time, though. Gonzalez saw that the girls didn’t consider practice a top priority. That would become a major factor in their first round playoff game against Tucson Rincon. He explained how the lack of players would strain the whole play force on the field.

“Mistakes, mistakes, mistakes,” Gonzalez muttered when Rincon had kicked their second goal at 8:07 minutes. “Ee cant afford that.”

He brought those up again at half-time, along with his white board with the play nearly erased. The names Adilene, Ashley, Irene, Leslie, Maria and others were scattered across the mock field drawn in black ink.

The next day Gonzalez and the girls got recognized at the Hoop-coming pep assembly, and that was his chance to emphasize that it had been a heck of a season. It was something he told the girls from beginning to end, all that good stuff a coach is supposed to say when a game goes south.

For a downed game, it included everything a sports game should. Some inspiration, dirty calls, the half-time plans, a piece of the coach’s mind, post-game tears, and a bit of rain. JV goalie Yvonne Garcia was also thrown into the scene when she was subbed in for position.

“Are you serious?!,” she asked after she was ordered to play.

Head coach Tony Dolata could’ve torn his hair out at this response.

So Gonzalez had a lot to remember when he looked back at the result the team was handed. He mostly drew his answers on paper, clicked his pen, and every once in a while rubbed his face just as he had that night. Lack of concentration was to blame.

Senior Jennifer Plascencia thought they weren’t communicating and said it in a scattered conversation. And Gonzalez’s 10-year-old daughter figured that they had just given up.

The assistant coach told the girls that there wasn’t anything different than the past 12 games. It was the “same field, same ball, and we both have 11 players,” he said. Nothing different, and he would be sure of it until next year.

There’s no “I” in team
By Dulce Valadez (01.29.10)
The girls could hardly speak at the thought of last night’s regional game versus Camelback. With a gleam in their eyes the girls described tonight’s game as being unbelievable, astonished at how far they have managed to come through all the speed bumps. They have learned the real meaning of the word “team.”

Goalie senior Jessica Villavicencio shrugged her shoulders as her eyes got wider. When asked about the dramatic incidents of the team, she responded “Llevamos la fiesta en paz,” meaning all they can do is create peace amongst themselves. If the girls would have never put their differences aside and played as a team, who knows where they would be right now, mentioned various players.

“I am nervous, I always get nervous before a game, especially this one since it’s regionals,” said Villavicencio. “Today’s game determines what happens next, either we win the region and go to state or not.”

Both Villavicencio and senior Jennfer Plascencia agreed that the main reason why they got this far is their coach Carlos Gonzales. “He’s inspirational,” they both said looking at each other with a smirk.
“He listens to us,” said Plascencia. “I’m not offending our other coach, but Gonzales is their for us both physically and mentally.”

Plascencia has been playing for Hayden since her freshman year, but as weak as things were on the soccer team Plascencia was off the team for minute because of some of the differences on the team. The day of the game Plascencia quit was one that her mother and younger siblings had attended. After her mother’s pep talk, she felt like she had given up too soon and let her anger get the best of her.

“My mom doesn’t like quitters and I didn’t want to be a quitter,” said Plascencia.

Plascencia says that the day they played Camelback for the first time. they realized that it was time to play as a team and show their actual talent. All of the girls have their unique talents, and they worked on putting them together as a team.

“Teamwork is what has helped us get this far because we’ve learned to communicate better,” said senior Ashley Lopez.

To the girls this is much more than just another soccer game out of the season; this means much more, other than it being their senior night they understand what being a part of a team is all about, one which they like to call family.

“It would mean a lot to us,” said Villavicencio. “We came this far and we finally made it. If we win we will make history; it would change the way our classmates look at us. For once the girls are doing as good as the boys.”

Senior Maria Hernandez says although she hasn’t played much throughout the season, practicing with the girls and interacting with them for the past three years, she says it’s all about determination, and that’s something that the team definitely has.

“I just feel like we deserved it,” she said relieved. “Just like the football team, now it’s our time to shine.”

As the girls get ready for the season to be over various emotions run through their minds all at once: excitement, intensity and distress. Senior Christinia Fernandez smiled at the thought of this being her senior year and all of the things she’s accomplished. The girls joked with Fernandez proud that she had gotten her first foul.

“I became more aggressive,” said Fernandez. “I finally made my first foul.”

It seems as if the more we advance the tougher the competition gets, but this has helped improve the girls game and become better athletes. Now the girls are ready to wrap things up and take those memories a step further.

“Win or lose we worked hard,” said Villavicencio. “We still overcame all of our obstacles.”

Girls Soccer: High expectations
by Marcela Torres and Heidy Lima (01.20.10)
Even though this year’s girls soccer team has had a few struggles through their season, they’ve learned to put all of their differences aside and put their heads in the game. Girls soccer has come a long ways since their first game, but varsity coach Tony Dolata believes that the team has far more to show.

“We need to work together more, and put a little more heart into it,” said Dolata.

One of the main skills the team lacked was communication. They were not acquainted with each other and had trouble communicating on the field, which led to misunderstandings. Dolata quickly intervened and called a mandatory meeting, where the team settled their differences. As a result the team is working hard on not offending each other while trying to get their point across.

“I think the team needs to communicate a bit more because we are still not used to each other and sometimes get confused on the field,” said senior Ana Magallanes.

Both Dolata and assistant coach Carlos Gonzalez agree that their players should play with 80 percent mentality and 20 percent skill. At the beginning of the season, the teammates didn’t have chemistry and that lack of chemistry was showing on the field, which affected their scores. Not having communication makes them seem less bonded and less productive on the field.

“Right now we are working on the mental parts which include; discipline, desire, heart, thinking, motivation, and results,” said Gonzalez.

To boost up the girls’ confidence before a game, the coaches have a small meeting dealing with the mental aspect of the game. This prepares the team for any level of competition. The coaches have talks with the girls, which has helped motivate the team to defeat their opponents.

“They have continuously improved after every game, and we keep building players for varsity,” said Gonzalez.

Ranking tenth in the state, and first in the District, they tied one game, lost two and won four. But the team still has a few things that need improvement, including working on the teams’ mental toughness and showing up at practice, which is one of the main keys to win and do well on the field.

“The team has a lot of talent, but we all need to be at practice and have better grades in order to be able to preform on the field,” said Magallanes.

Despite all the troubles, drama and confusions on the team, the girls keep trying their best and overcome their struggles. They are well off to winning regionals and advancing to the State Tournament.

Under construction: New to the Falcon game, JV coach Tanya Arnold strives to build a better ball game
By Monica Contreras (01.21.10)
Coach Tanya Arnold and her JV girls faced another pitstop in their game against Goldwater. The game would end early for point guard Cassandra Castro, sophomore, after collapsing in pain. Her Achilles tendon appeared swollen, and there was a possibility that it could be ruptured.

Castro was on the verge of being sidelined for what remained of the season. This moment was just another setback in Arnold’s approach to making their remaining games work for her, a challenging start for the first-year coach’s career at Carl Hayden.

Arnold was a former coach for girls basketball at Arthur M. Hamilton Middle School. She says she had been over qualified to continue coaching and describes working with high school girls as a whole different court.

“It’s been okay, but I had actually expected more, ” said Arnold. “It’s a learning curve with these girls. Not a lot of them here are athletic-minded. The skill level was very similar to the girls here, but the younger girls were more eager to learn.”

A few days before their Fairfax game practices were mellow; a few of the girls were sprawled on the floor carrying out their stretches. Sophomore Denise Olivas says that Arnold has yet to set ground rules upon the girls, the majority of them were by the stands well into their conversations.

Arnold walked around the courts looking to start drills amongst the small talk, mostly none having anything to do with jump shots.

“They (players) think they can do whatever they want, but she should give us discipline,” said Olivas, as she lowers her head just missing an air ball. “She gives us choices but she should set the rules.”

Olivas eventually lined up behind her teammates, and the girls began their jump shots. Practice was rusty to begin with after their previous loss against Goldwater. A lack of rebounds and quickness widened the score.

“Aim your shots, this ain’t Speedball!” Arnold called out. The first couple of shots were just shy of the rim.

“I couldn’t get mad,” said junior Christine Tallabas about the downed game. “They were so respectful. They even helped us up and held the door for us when we left. I was like, ‘wow!’ I didn’t expect to lose. Speed was all they had on us, and they had a very good shot. I didn’t expect to lose, I hate to lose.”

One good thing emerged from the situation: the arrogance that Arnold saw in the girls was fading. It was a choice to do conditioning. That game said all there was to be said.

“I just think we played a better team,” said Arnold. “Everybody wants to be the boss. I think we need to focus from beginning to end.”

Arrogance doesn’t fit Tallabas or Olivas. Tallabas was already working on her shooting game, which she admits is “horrible.” And Olivas is the player in the bunch that laughed when she missed her lay ups, and she got her place back in line.

She called out to Arnold in a defensive drill that involved footwork. The girls jogged up to her at the end of the line, and held their hands up to guard. Olivas managed to keep a straight face; this would look silly to the average person aside from the nicknames she gave everyone.

But Arnold knew and her team knew.

Education plus sports equals success
By Dulce Valadez and Marcela Torres (12.04.09)
The girls are beginning to feel the adrenaline rushing through their blood. The Lady Falcons are back and more determined than ever. This season is a fresh start for the athletes, with a new coach and coming back from exclusive training with the Phoenix Mercury. The girls say they’re hoping for a successful year.

“I hope and think this year is going to be more successful than last year’s,” said senior Frankie Rodriguez. “I am really expecting to win against Maryvale.”

Former Maryvale coach Jeff Rathbun is this year’s new varsity coach and is hoping to improve the girls game. The coach concluded that he’s not looking to top Maryvale’s record, but is hoping that the team plays as a team and tries their best.

“I’ve been working with the girls since June. Most of the girls have been doing basketball-related stuff since the summer,” said Rathbun.

Athletic-wise, Rathbun’s expectations are high but are possible to accomplish. He hopes to see the girls grow, improve their skills and become better players. The girls are hoping for the same because some of them have been playing basketball most of their lives.

“I’ve been playing basketball since I was seven years old,” said Rodriguez. “It’s my life.”

Rathbun was proud to say that there are some things the girls have, but there are other things they lack, such as the ability to play as a team. The girls carry many individual talents on their own and Rathbun is helping them show those talents on the court.

“I would like to improve on everything,” said senior Karen Strouse. “My dribbling, shooting, being under pressure. You can never be too good unless you’re Kobe.”

The girls are cooperating with their coaches on the new offensive and defensive strategies they wish to employ this season, says Rathbun. Although the varsity team is good and ready to go, the JV and freshman teams still need players.

“My expectations for the team this year is to be undefeated and for myself to improve and become a better player,” said sophomore Victoria Manquero.

Unlike most coaches Rathbun’s ultimate goal isn’t to win a big basketball trophy. Rathbun is a coach who is devoted to the team and cares about his students’ athletic ability, but also their educational capacity. While at practice the girls aren’t only working on becoming better basketball players, but have an hour to work on homework, something they call study table. Rathbun says he and all coaches try to emphasize the importance of the No Pass, No play rule.

“If all my girls went to college I’d be happier than winning 22 games,” said Rathbun. “All students should come out and watch us represent our school well.”

Congrats to Coach Resch and Lady Falcons Badminton team.
They are the 2009 5A-Metro Region Champions. They went undefeated against Metro Region competition

More Players Makes A Better Team
By Marcela Torres (11.09.09)
The Falcon badminton team grew this year, with 20 players on the team.

“Last year there were 13 girls on the team,” said badminton coach Erika Resch. “They are a much bigger team than last year. There is no drama and they all work well together.”

Several players said they were performing better than the past seasons.

“The season has been good,” said sophomore Cynthia Quinonez. “I feel I’m performing up to my standards and better.”

The girls have been working on numerous techniques to better their game and improve their skills, such as preparing before each match.

“We are working on skills they have already learned,” said Resch. “They are now trying to improve them. They are preparing for matches,”

Quinonez says that this year they outnumbered the number of players from the past which will increases their chances of winning and playing better.

Although badminton isn’t a well-known sport, the players feel like they did get some support.

“We got a lot of support from our coach,” said senior Sarah Uquidez. “She is a really good coach and an awesome person.”

Senior Yesenia Tabarez appreciated the support the team got from Stugo, friends, the coach and her family, which works as a motivation to do better in their games.

Badminton had more wins than in most recent years. They won all of the games from schools in Phoenix Union.

“We went to Regions on Monday and played South Mountain and lost,” said Quinonez. “If you lose the first game then you are out, but we stayed the whole competition. To me it was a great and a fun experience.”

Although badminton is an individual sport, it is a team sport as well and everyone must do their part.

“I am doing a pretty good job for it being my first year playing,” said Uquidez. “I really wouldn’t change anything.”

Tabarez agrees and thought it was very comfortable to play this year.

“Some of the goals for the season were winning more games and having fun,” said Tabarez. “And also worked with teammates. There were no downfalls. The players have fun playing badminton.”

Game day eliminates mixed emotions; no fear
By Monica Contreras (9.23.09)
Very few athletes that have walked in the world of sports have referred to it as fun. Statements you probably won’t hear are: going to practice is fun, doing drills is exciting, and not being included in the starting line up is wonderful.

Athletes would most describe their playing days as hard, and they complain of having their spot on the No Pass, No Play list. It is true; watching teammates play from a seat on the bench is not the goal. But as soon as the time to shine comes, the definite moment to show one’s true colors, there’s no reason not to feel good.

“The most important thing is to have fun,” said badminton player Ashley Lopez. “If I don’t have that, I feel like I’m not playing my game.”

Surely there is a great feeling to gain out of rough contact from a sport like football or basketball. No fear, a lesson about not being scared. But for other sports when that aggressiveness is out of the picture, there are other things to derive the thrill out of. Either muscle, intensity, leadership, and the good old speed.

Now, a race is something to get competitive about. It’s simple; a sturdy pair of running shoes will go a long way.

“You just keep going,” said cross country runner Andre Buendia. “You don’t think about stopping; there is no stopping. You just take off.”

Pre-game warm-ups are a time to let go of all worries that hang loose. The whole team gets together to offer support that is needed and to build a sturdy huddle of togetherness. It’s a time to look towards one direction.

“We let go of everything, whatever happens in that court stays in that court,” said volleyball player Rubi Mena. “It feels like a time to step up.”

Different meanings come to the action of stepping up; it all depends on the player and just how far they are willing to go. Sometimes there are high standards, they want to top that scoreboard and be the one to leave feeling content.

“I tell myself that I’m going to try hard, I’m going to go further,” said Brayan Chavez, cross country runner. “I’m going to put a little bit more effort and turn into a person who makes his goals.”

Sweat and pain speak loudly; somehow they guarantee hard labor. It’s an important part of sports, and what everyone fights for. Ironically, when an athlete reaches their peak of greatness an injury is the reason why they failed.

“You’re proving that you’re better,” said Buendia. “You do anything to win at that point.”

After spending seasons and seasons of fall sports, players already know what to expect from their teammates. Before game time comes the chilling of nerves for some, but once they’re set free it’s like looking at a whole new team in a completely different setting.

“When I’m with my teammates I know it’s game time,” said volleyball player Jessika Flores. “Being on the court is a privilege; you have to earn it.”

It takes a lot of love for a game to keep an athlete coming back for seasons to come. Being proud is too much of a good feeling.

“People fight and cry if they lose,” said Buendia. “It’s funny it’s just a race, but it’s not. You hate it and you love it. That’s always satisfying.”

A ‘Never Ending’ Game:
Handball players derive lifelong skills from the simplicity of the game
by Monica Contreras (01.06.10)
Senior Leonardo Juarez shrugs at his interests of handball. He doesn’t exert any real reason to why he was driven towards the courts. A half-smile shapes his face, and he mentions his upbringing to the game back in freshman year. He settles on the easy nature of the game, while he peers through the large fence.

That same simplicity is what brought Homar Delgado to start a handball club at Hayden and to share his love of the game with students.

“It’s a sport that runs itself, I don’t have to recruit,” said Delgado.

Delgado began the club back in 2004-05, and since then as many as 100 kids have crowded the courts daily, according to the sponsor. It’s about the only place on campus that is never empty, anytime of day. Lunch, before school, and after school, the players truly exist in their own being.

Throughout most school days, faint shouting and the put-put sound from flyaway balls make the court very much alive despite them being tucked away between an empty football field and basketball court. The scene comes across as casual, a hangout compared to the handful of noise that football and basketball games are known for.

It’s no wonder that those who stroll past the scene would never consider the pastime as a sport.

“That’s ’cause it was brought up in prison!”, Juarez said, joking about the sport’s history. “I just come here and play.”

Delgado’s reasons for the sport being unofficial is because it is not AIA (Arizona Interscholastic Association) sanctioned, an association that recognizes high school sports and athletes. While trying to get the sport a part of the organization, the club participates in tournaments with the USHA (United States Handball Association). Delgado claims some of his players move on to play soccer or baseball.

To Organize, Promote, and Spread the Joy of Handball, the Perfect Game is the group’s mission statement. The non-profit organization has put that motto into play by donating money and equipment across clubs in Arizona; the national headquarters is located in Tucson, Arizona.

“They play to win just like any other sport. It helps you develop your weak side,” said Delgado. “Your hand-eye coordination develops, you have to play with your mind and foresee what’s going to happen. Be quick and flexible.”

The casual perception of the game is turned once the boys bring in the competition, which explains the reason why girls hardly make their way to the courts. As Delgado says, they shy away from the guys. Senior Francisco Paredes says he has seen a few players’ tempers come loose, those that play their game with a bit too much pride.

Paredes found his place on the courts since freshman year. His brother was into the game, too. His eyes roam across the players and he comments on who is who, and who carries what kind of game. A few curse words come out from players standing in a line, with their backs leaning against the wall, hands in their pockets.

“The ones who were the worst players back then are some of the best players now,” said Paredes. He grins at Delgado while he watches him battle against a club member. “Like Delgado, he used to be good, but then he started playing with the sucky people. You know, people get like that.”

There is a system in place for the competitions; handball can do the whole “brackets” concept, too. Talent lies in three levels that Delgado divides his players in: A, B, and C, with Level A being the most experienced. This same method was used for the Handball Tournament held on Saturday, Dec. 5, with Hayden’s club going against South Mountain and Alhambra.

Hip-hop blared from a stereo system, adding to the occasion, as small groups of kids gathered around the bleachers. The weekend competition lasted well into a couple of hours, enough time for the boys to round their skills.

Players continue their dose of the game long after the school’s courts are closed. Besides ending their afternoon by playing until 5 p.m. or later, Delgado says most kids don’t mind making their way into local parks and playing until 10 p.m.

The harsh reality of “No more football” and “No more basketball” doesn’t exist in the world of handball.

“It doesn’t seem to end,” said Delgado. “I used to play in high school and it kept me out of trouble. And I am already working with a successful club.”

Freshmen sports create learning experience
Story by Monica Contreras-8.28.09
No other season can be more of a learning experience to an athlete than their first season. Freshman year. High school sports are unlike any other. The athlete mind is young, and there is a big sense of competition. The sport is at the point where it matters most, not just for entertainment but to keep the athlete out of trouble and to teach them valuable lessons.

Being a part of high school athletics is something freshmen have to feel for themselves. To some experienced athletes, being on the field or court is a feeling that words just can’t explain; they’re simply not enough.

“It feels good to join,” said freshman Jesus Martinez, hoping to be a nose guard in freshmen football. “The excitement of knockin’ people down without getting in trouble, to get away with it. Sometimes you can hit them so hard.”

The thought of joining sports at Hayden is nothing new to most ninth graders. In their minds it’s just like playing sports in junior high or middle school. Just take away the fact that it is in a bigger school, with bigger people, and perhaps a bigger challenge. It can make a young kid feel small in a place where people are hungry for talent.

“It’s pretty hard with all the competition,” said freshman Karen Salazar, who played softball, cross country, and tennis in the past. “Experience takes the worry out of trying out. You compete with more people, and as the years go by I’m going to get better.”

It can be hard not to feel intimidated by other athletes. There is always the chance of someone being faster, stronger, and that one player that even looks better in the uniform. No one wants to have to expect that, but in the beginning it is what most freshmen will feel. They have to compete as if they want to be the number one pick in an NFL draft.

“It’s scary,” said freshman Alma Rodriguez. “You’re playing with sophomore, junior, and senior girls that have more experience. You get nervous to ask for help. It’s more challenging.”

Challenges begin to lie around every corner. It can be a skill that an athlete wants but just can’t seem to grasp, or an ambivalence towards the sport that keeps them from loving the game. Practice can become tough. It is usually the first impression most players give their teammates and their coaches.There’s something about overcoming a setback that makes a season seem perfect, it becomes full.

“You just have to guide your team,” said freshmen football coach Miguel Herrerra. “Freshmen are so young. A lot of them have never tried out for sports. They get a sense of fear they have to overcome, but it keeps you on top of your game. You succumb to that fear.”

There is no need for upperclassmen sports to underestimate freshmen in sports. Instead the sports teams like to start at the root of the game and teach the young ones to learn from the best. In all, the majority of all players are there for the same reasons, to have pride and to represent.

“A girl that’s been playing a sport is independent, she knows what to expect,” said JV volleyball coach Carlos Gonzalez. “New girls need to be nurtured and encouraged. But most of all they need to listen. If they put on a mental block they won’t let me teach them. I want them to think on their own and be open-minded.”

As long as the conscience is kept wide open, and the need to get better is still there, practicing will be the chance for a player to feel like he or she is improving. They will be closer to their goals and become the athlete they want to become one day.

“I want to learn to be tougher, you have to go the extra mile,” said freshman tackle Sammy Madrid. “Football is a contact sport and it can break every bone in your body if you don’t know how to fall.”

Even if a season becomes great or goes downhill for the worse, all that a player learned from losing or from winning is still kept in mind and becomes part of their experiences. An athlete still wears their respect, responsibility, and intelligence like a jersey long after practice. It’s something permanent, nothing like a win that can be taken away in fourth quarter. It is there to stay.

“They win or lose it all together, it’s brotherhood from top to bottom,” said Herrera. “You receive the same respect if you played one game or two minutes. Even if you turn off your football switch, you receive the same respect.”

Football team prepared, ready to win
Story by Monica Contreras-8.28.09
The thrill of playing Falcon football senior year all dates back to the weight room. Before hanging around the trainer’s office, before being injured, and long before feeling the shame of a winning drought. One question lays in a young freshman boy’s mind, from a simple poster advertising the football guys: FALCON FOOTBALL: ARE YOU TOUGH ENOUGH? When an athlete decides he’s tough, and decides to join the crowd, the journey begins to varsity year.

The development takes place, the process of becoming a stronger, faster animal on the defensive line. It’s all in the head of the player hoping to triumph and have a dream season. But not knowing what it takes to be a football player hangs above the newcomers heads, and they begin to find out it all lays in practice.

“You go to practice everyday and do your best work,” said senior cornerback Gabriel Manquero. “A player becomes more experienced and knows what to do. He does what he can.”

Taking a player back to the early days of practice reminds most of doing heavy reps in the weight room right beside varsity football coach Cleveland Dansby. This is where Dansby teaches young boys the fundamentals of the sport, since 99 percent of freshman boys have never lifted weights, he says. Strength training allows players to find out the physical part of football, preparing them to be able to take a hit. Being mentally ready is something else, something that can be more difficult for most. An athlete’s mental approach to the game can make him really fly, but at the same time make him fall drastically.

“They’ve gotta be mentally tough,” said Dansby. “I present them the opportunities to grow physically and mentally. Football is an all-around sport, there’s no break to it. They have to learn techniques year round.”

As coaches see their players and team grow together, laugh together, and learn the meaning of teamwork, the gap between their first and last year is filled. So much has been learned in that time span: running instead of walking on the field, learning to feel bear crawls, hearing the motto “teamwork makes the dream work,” and to learning to love the uniform and wearing the pride inside.

“You learn to be responsible, enthusiastic, and ooh you wear the pads!” said sophomore wide receiver Gabriel Tena. “You put in hard work, you stick with the team and not quit.”

After a season’s worth of learning and the experiencing of conditioning, most coaches come up with a whole new player by their senior year, from a player that didn’t know the meaning of commitment to a kid that values dedication. It’s like a convict that finally learned his lesson after spending years in a jail cell. A young man, as Dansby describes him.

“He’s not an individual,” said senior tackle Trè Fields. “He’s a person that gets along with everyone, a beast and an aggressive player. You know they’ve (players) matured when they get aggressive and they’re not scared. He’s a head hunter.”

One of the only ways to slowly woo and bring in a freshman kid to stay on the team is to describe the high that a player gets out of being on the field. After all it surely beats the excuse of not joining because the Falcons have nothing to say about winning, as Fields puts it. Instead, they forget that fact and they take in the idea of family and that getting tackled in a muddy field is fun.

“We build a family bond, a team, a family,” said Dansby. “Comrades. There’s nothing like a good team. It’s fun and something you want to keep doing. It’s in your system, a burning desire. It’s something that’ll last a lifetime. These guys will remember each other when they are old and gray.”

By the time their first season ends, most freshman want the opportunity to be able to play all four years of high school. They want to make their way up to varsity and make a name for themselves, perhaps even leave behind a legacy. But odds are a freshman starts football with none other than the freshman guys.

“They don’t wanna play varsity because of our history. They don’t wanna lose,” said Fields. “It’s too intense for them. They have to outshine, stand out, and catch our attention.”

Because most players anticipate winning after frustrating losses, they push harder and make talent rise. Expectations become higher for everyone. There’s no need to ask for more if everyone knows what they want and need. A win.

“My expectations don’t change, ” said Dansby. “I’m always asking for their last effort, their best effort.”

A sport wouldn’t be a sport without spirit, the kind that makes the field and locker room feel like everything will be alright. It’s the energy that keeps the body wanting to kill the other team that night. It even saves the player form having second thoughts and leaving the team without finishing what was started.

“It motivates me and makes me want to put the Carl Hayden name out there,” said Manquero. “I feel that as a senior I expect more out of myself, we tell them (the team) that we’re gonna win.”

As seniors, most of the Falcon boys have already earned their spot in what is called the “Brotherhood.”

“The big dogs are in the back, the little people are in the front,” said Fields. “They don’t get a spot. They prove it on the field in a different locker room.”

As the entire Carl Hayden High School sits back and waits for a win, Dansby watches for his boys to make it happen on the field.

“I’m looking forward to a successful season,” he said. “These boys have put in hard work: sweat,tears, bumps, bruises, aches. It’s time for it to pay off.”