East Valley NYS football players head to San Diego

While many people are anxiously awaiting the return of football season, some Arizona residents are still playing. George Ramiez of San Tan Valley and Hyrum Boren of Mesa play for the Red Mountain Devils football team. The Red Mountain Devils are part of the National Youth Sports league which, according to its website, was started in Arizona over 20 years ago to “offer amateur sports through a volunteer base.” Kids from age three to 16 can participate in the NYS leagues.
Ramiez and Boren and the rest of their team are preparing to head to San Diego for the National Tackle Championship that takes place June 17-21. The tournament  will feature over 120 teams.  This is not the first time that the Red Mountain Devils have gone to the tournament in California.
“We went last year and we played and we went to the semi-finals, and we lost, 6 to 12,” Ramiez said. That close score, is a result of NYS divisions being competitive.
“They have it all balanced out, it’s all competitive, you can’t come in to the game time, be all cocky and thinking you’re going to win,” Boren said. “They have talent there week after week.”
Ramiez, who played in last year’s tournament, said that their toughest competition would be the team they lost to in the semi-finals last year.
“The biggest challenge of the tournament is probably one of the teams, called the Raiders. They are the ones that beat us in the semi-finals 12-6, so I’m just waiting for that match up to see who gets the ring,” Ramiez said. “Who’s better, who has more heart.”
The NYS National Champions each get a championship ring. Both Ramiez and Boren are hoping their fingers come home decorated.
“I really want one. I have been playing in the NYS for four seasons now,” Ramiez said. “And I just want to go out there and preform my best.”
“I would really like to come home with a ring,” Boren said. “And have a great time doing it too.”
Coach Leo Aviles believes that his team has that mental toughness.
“From games where you maybe start off and it’s not going right to pulling it together and maybe pulling the game out,” Aviles said. “Mentally they just have to be checked in and ready to go.” But not only is football about the mental game.
“Having to play four games straight, day after day because I think that is going to be really tiring for us,” Boren said. “I hope we are up to the challenge.”
“What we learned last year, is when you play three games back to back to back, possibly four, if you get to the championship, its a lot of wear and tear on your body physically, mentally,” Aviles said. “When you don’t have a full week, you might only have 18 hours before you play another game.”
This trip is a chance for the Red Mountain Devils to set a standard for Arizona.
“I think if we come away with a win it will show Arizona’s dominance in football,” Boren said.
“Compared to most of the teams we have seen it shows how much Arizona football has grown,” Aviles said. “Typically the top teams (at the tournament) are Arizona teams. I think it kind of shows competitive football is played here.”
This will be Ramiez’s last season with the Red Mountain Devils because he will be able to play tackle football at his school.
“I just would like to get a ring,” Ramiez said “(It’s my) last season, I want to go out with a big bang.”

Arianna Grainey is a freelance photojournalist.

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