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Prep Football Preview: Cibola Raiders

Players feel higher intensity and familiarity with coaching staff will produce better season outcome

YUMA, Ariz. ( KYMA, KECY-TV ) - Under the leadership of second year head coach Kasey Koepplin, the Cibola Raiders players feel something that has been lacking on the team is slowly being restored.

"In all honesty, I think it’s the intensity," Senior Isaiah Ortega said. "Last year there was like no intensity, there was nothing there, they came out and went through the motions."

"I feel like out intensity is so high I feel like a lot of people just want to keep moving forward," Senior Issael Ibarra said. "From last year there is a big improvement we needed to fill and already I feel we filled that void."

 The reason for the change according to the players is because of head coach Kasey Koepplin and his coaching staff.

"The coaches are now more connected with each other," Senior Andrew McNair said. "Last year I don't think they quite trusted each other. Now they do and it shows."

"This year it’s completely different," Ortega said. "We’re more connected and we understand the playbook better. We’ve had that year with with Kepp and understand why he does the things he does."

While it took awhile for the Raiders to buy into the new coaches philosophy, it also took time for coach Koepplin himself to understand his position.

"There are still things daily we’re i’m like, well, we’ve never experienced that, let’s figure this out," Koepplin said. "Overall just being more familiar with the kids, familiar with the campus. A little better understanding of how the community navigates and things like that. With them and how they work within their families and me getting to know their families instead of me just getting to know them."

The family attitude may not be showing early on the scoreboards but is certainly prevalent during team practices.

"We play for each other," Senior Lucious Lang said. "We try to play hard, we try to boost each other up."

Koepplin understands his role is far greater than wins and losses, it's shaping young men for bright futures on and off the field.

"He just wants us to get better," Ibarra said. "Not only as a football player but as a human being."

"They’re really good kids," Koepplin said. "Really good human beings first and they can play some football too which is great."

The Raiders start the season with three straight road games before opening their home schedule against arch rival Gila Ridge on September 15th at Raider Field.  



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Scott Gross

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