Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community members Michael Antone and Kaya Hayes are both sophomores at Westwood High School this year, and both are on the junior varsity football team. The JV Warriors won their first three games with a standing of 3-0 as of Wednesday, September 11.
The first game was against La Joya Community High School, and the Warriors took the win, 43-32. In their second game, against Maryvale, Antone helped secure a fumble and, along with his team, helped push the Black Panthers back, resulting in penalties. The Warriors dominated the Black Panthers 80-20. On Wednesday, September 11, the Warriors went head-to-head with the Mesa Jackrabbits, beating them 22-14.
This is Hayes’ second year on the team. He plays first string defensive end, where he attempts to pass rush the quarterback on the opposing team.
“I just try to get to the quarterback every time before he gets the ball to his teammates,” said Hayes.
Hayes said that he is bigger, stronger and faster this year. He hopes to play on the varsity team next year.
Aside from football, Hayes continues to play baseball with Westwood, playing in scrimmage games and tournaments on the weekends to prepare for the baseball season.
“Baseball is my main sport,” said Hayes.
Antone is playing his first football season. The only other time he played was over 10 years ago with a Boys & Girls Club flag football team. He is a nose guard and defensive tackle.
“I decided to join [football] to have the experience. Having the team helps; they push you forward and don’t let you slack up behind. They won’t let you fall, basically,” said Antone.
Antone also participates in the Salt River Police Explorers Program and the Salt River Youth Council.
“What I am looking forward to the rest of the season is good games, a good relationship with the team,” said Antone. “I would like to thank my mom—she paid for the equipment that is needed for the program. I would like to thank the coaches; they accepted me and taught me things that I missed over the summer and last year. Also [thanks to] the team for pushing me and not letting me fall.”