The Gila Ridge Hawks are ready to spread their wings and take flight once again
YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - The Hawks were 1-9 in 2022, but found some success last season improving to 4-6.
Head coach Jessica Slaughter says they lost 29 seniors and it's time for the young guys to step up.
"We have a lot of younger guys, a lot more than I would have anticipated bringing up to the varsity level this year but they're hungry," says Slaughter. "They've been working hard and they're gonna get the job done."
One of them being junior quarterback Steven Navas and as one of the captains, he says he's ready for the challenge and will lead his team to the best of his ability.
"Doing that by coming in every day, getting on the guys, making sure they do everything right," says Navas. "That we're putting in all the work and just keep going."
Koeby Caldwell, senior left tackle and also captain, says he will do his part in guiding the flock to victories.
"Personally this year I have been working on my leadership skills, trying to help the line, tidy up when they need to be tidied up," says Caldwell. "And just try to get everything smooth sailing."
This is Slaughter's third year as head coach and after making progress last year, she says she will continue this season with the same remedy.
"Last year we just tried to build the leadership. That was kind of the big change from the 1-9 season to the 4-6 season," Slaughter says. "We had a lot of guys step up and actually become leaders, become more vocal for us. It's just something we're looking to continue into this season."
Navas says Slaughter has helped the team grow.
"Coach Slaughter has changed the program by showing up every day, resembling how to be a great hard worker, a leader. She gets us right for each game by breaking down film and showing us what's the weakness, what's the strengths and how we can get prepared for the next game," Navas says.
And the Hawks feel they are ready on both sides of the ball.
"Offensively I feel like we're great. We have a lot of power to us. We're always moving, wanting to push the ball forward, making big plays at a time," says Navas. "Defensively we're looking awesome. Every guy does their job perfectly and then just hitting as hard as they can."
Navas mentions one challenge for them will be lasting the whole game without getting tired and doing everything they can to make that happen this season, all while creating a brotherhood.
"We have a lot of trust in each other. Over the summer we've been working hard working together, uplifting each other and getting on each other when it needs to happen," says Caldwell.
Slaughter gives much praise to her coaching staff.
"Oh my staff's great. I couldn't ask for a better group of guys. They work their butts off. They're here every day putting in the work and they really make this team what it is," Slaughter mentions.
The coaches and players all have one common goal.
"We're really hoping to get region champs and a playoff run, the sweet dream," Caldwell states.
Even with the hurdles, Coach Slaughter has faith in the young team.
"Even though we lost a big group of seniors, the guys that came in and stepped it up, I mean they filled in the roles nicely and they're ready to go," Slaughter says.
Gila Ridge will play on Friday at home at Veterans Memorial Stadium against the Southwest Eagles.