raymond kellis cougars

This Friday night, Yurview Arizona’s Game of the Week kicks off at 7:00 from Mesquite High School where the Wildcats host the Raymond Kellis Cougars.

Kellis comes in with an unblemished record (4-0) having outscored their opponents 153–44. Mesquite comes into the game with a record of (2-3), and is a team that feels like it’s trending in the right direction heading into the second half of the season. These two teams squared off last season in week 5, and Mesquite handed Kellis its lone loss of the regular season by a score of 27-20.

Kellis is led by head coach Shawn Copeland, who is in his 4th season with the Cougars. Kellis finished last year with a 9-2 record, losing to Marana in the first round of the playoffs 28-21. It’s been quite a turnaround for Kellis, who went 0-10 in 2014.

Copeland believes last year’s success has been a key component to this season’s undefeated start. “I think the biggest impact that season had is that it showed our kids what can happen when you work hard. Were talking about the off season, were not talking about the practices. That was the biggest thing that was missing at this school, there was no off season at all. There was no commitment to it. The coaches were committed, but the kids weren’t committed to it. So when you get into January and you put in that work through May, and then you go to team camp and come back in June and July and you turn around and win your first region championship, and have the best record in school history, I think it’s a definite definer that hard work pays off.” Copeland said.

Kellis is led by wide receiver and cornerback Josiah Bailey. The 5’9” 165 pound senior has been playing on the varsity since his freshman year and has started the last 3 seasons.

Bailey, who has a 3.7 grade point average, has offers from Air Force and Adams State. In last week’s game against Arcadia, Bailey had 6 touches (3 carries, 3 catches) for 135 total yards and 3 touchdowns.

Offensively other key contributors are junior quarterback Cade Peterson (62-92, 906 yards, 14 td’s), senior wide receiver Dylan Naylor (19 catches, 363 yards, 19.1 average, 4 td’s), and junior wide receiver Plas Johnson (16 catches, 201 yards, 6 td’s). Defensively Nicholas Bejarano leads the Cougars with 44 tackles. The senior middle linebacker is drawing interest from Arizona State and Northern Arizona.

Chad DeGrenier is in his second season leading the Mesquite program. DeGrenier replaced Jim Jones who is now the Wildcats defensive coordinator. Last year Mesquite had a record of 8-4, losing in the state quarterfinals to Cienega. Prior to Mesquite, DeGrenier was the head coach at Mesa Mountain View and Cactus Shadows, where he won a state title in 2006.

Offensively for the Wildcats Deandre Kelsey is the player to keep your eye on. The senior wide receiver has 28 catches for 346 yards and 2 touchdowns, as well as 18 carries for 164 yards. Kelsey will line up at multiple positions on Friday night. The senior has an offer from Simpson College and is drawing interest from Northern Arizona. This past summer he won the fastest skills player competition at NAU’s camp. Kelsey, who also runs track for Mesquite, has been timed at 4.4 seconds in the 40 yard dash.

Defensively, the Wildcats are led by senior defensive end Robert Jordan (6’3” 205 lbs) and senior linebacker Jacob Berry.

Jordan grew up on the south side of Chicago and is in his 2nd season playing for Mesquite. Jordan is a special athlete who also plays basketball, runs track, and has run a 4.5 forty with a 34 inch vertical leap. He has raw skills and is still learning the game, but has already received offers from Arizona State, Northern Arizona, and South Dakota State. Other schools interested are Wyoming, UNLV, and Hawaii. Berry (5’11” 180 lbs) is a team captain, who is in his 3rd year starting on the varsity.

Along with Jordan, Berry is pound for pound the strongest player on the team. Berry, who has a 3.7 grade point average while taking AP / honors classes, has a high football IQ and a nose for the ball. The senior linebacker is also a standout lacrosse player, who is receiving interest for that sport from Texas Christian, San Diego State, and Grand Canyon.

Berry and company are hoping to hand Kellis their first regular season loss for the second straight year, but the Cougars are looking for payback and they are hoping to get that on Friday night.