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Rivers has Hagerman believing in themselves

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Hagerman’s Jakob Bejarano throws a pass against Capitan in action earlier this season. (Shawn Naranjo Photo)

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In their first big test of the young football season, Hagerman coach Guy Rivers has had to rally his team and keep them headed in the right direction. In their first game, the team started slow, but quarterback Jacob Bejarano threw a 65-yard touchdown pass to Elijah Garcia and another one to Chris Becerra for 40-yards to put the game away against Capitan in a 22-14 win their first game of the season.

“I think that we began to get a little confidence as the game went on,” Rivers said. “The offense was moving the ball well. The defense played well.”

This victory was the first in two years for the Bobcats. Hagerman has been through five coaches in five seasons and are looking for stability and to turn things around. In their second game against the Mescalero Apache at home, they won the game going away with a 34-14 victory.

“Our team saw themselves on film and what they did well.” Rivers said, “From there they started buying into the system.”

The key to the season has been the defense and the physical play of both O- and D-lines, while they have used a physical brand of football to control the clock and the ground. Once teams creep up on stopping the run, Bejarano will fake the run into the line of scrimmage and go deep to a receiver who is often caught looking into the backfield for six points.

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Rivers has also been a calming influence when things have gone south. In last week’s game against Mescalero, they gave up two pick-sixes that could have had the team come unglued. Instead, Rivers dialed up the next play on his play sheet and allowed the momentum to swing back to his team to seal the victory — the first back-to-back wins at home in a long time. Rivers credits his defense for being a key to the team’s success this season.

In the Battle of the Bridges, Hagerman has never won this game with the trophy and Dexter scheduled this game for their homecoming. Rivers knows that for his team to win, they have to face adversity and be able to play with the bigger, stronger and faster Demons. Dexter is 3A while Hagerman is 2A.

The ‘Cats have not faced adversity this season — both of their games have been played at home and they have not been behind on the scoreboard at any point this year. Rivers is eager to see how his team responds when they are punched in the mouth.

“Our real test is going to be Friday,” Rivers said. “They’re bigger than we are. They’re a 3A school and it is a rivalry — the kids know each other. It’s their homecoming week, which is always an incentive to play to win. We are fixing to run into a really good team. We’ll see this week when they get hit in the mouth. This is a great team for my young team.”

Rivers believes in his team and the kids and that he has projected a family atmosphere for the team. The players believe that he has their backs and will practice and play hard for Rivers and that he will be at Hagerman after this season. Rivers has stated that he would like to retire at Hagerman and build upon the old championships that were won there years ago.

“I just try to put the kids in the right place to make plays,” Rivers said. “I have not made a tackle or thrown a pass — it’s the kids. They’re the ones strapping it up and they’re having fun. Our practices are getting better and I can’t wait until Friday night. I believe it is going to be a good game to come and watch. I believe they are ready to play.”

Hagerman has moved up to the No.7 in 2A coaches poll. Friday night’s game has a lot of implications for both teams.