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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Arizona born Grizzly players excited about homecoming

by David Mejia
ALAMOSA, Colo.- Have you ever lined up for a pick-up football game and were the last pick? How about not being picked at all? Some athletes can relate to the situation, but none more than several players on the Adams State College football team.

Most athletes would like to play for the college that they grew up following, dreaming of one day wearing their colors and having their photo taken in that jersey. Such was the case for a handful of Grizzlies who hail from Arizona.

The Grizzly roster has 24 players from Arizona on the roster and several of them can not wait for the opportunity to face Northern Arizona University on Thursday in Flagstaff, Ariz. for a non-conference game with the Division I-AA Lumberjacks.

Many of these players were not given the opportunity they felt they deserved. While others are happy to be in their situation at Adams State they simply can not wait to showcase their talents in front of friends and family.

"I think it's very special for them," ASC head coach Wayne McGinn said. "It's something I have wanted to do for our Arizona kids for some time. They're going to have a chance to play in front of their family and friends and showcase their talents as well.

"We always like to go against a Division I program. The better the competition, the more it should help you to become a better player."

There is little doubt that the Arizona athletes are proud of where they come from and represent the state well. Moreover, they are pleased to be somewhere where they are wanted.

"Absolutely! It's going to be an exciting game for all of us from Arizona who were recruited by Arizona schools and didn't play there for one reason or another," said Tucson native Scott Coxon, who is the starting quarterback for the Grizzlies. "More importantly, it's going to be like a home game for us. We're excited about going home to play there in front of family and friends."

There are no hard feelings, but more excitement about the opportunity to play in their home state. It's also being viewed as an opportunity to play a Division I-AA opponent for a school that wanted them.

"It's been an awesome fit for me, Gene Mejia and Tony Gibalski, who are my roommates and are both from Tucson," Coxon said. "We're all happy we decided to come up here to Adams State. It gave us an opportunity to play and it's been a great fit for us."

There is a different type of motivation for defensive end Adam Warren. The senior from Dove Creek, Colo. spent two seasons at NAU, playing one season and red-shirting another.

"I see (this game) as a great opportunity for me," Warren said. "I didn't leave on bad terms, but they didn't think I could play for them.

"If I can wreak havoc, I will. That's how I'm motivating myself."

Warren's experience playing in the J. Lawrence Walkup Skydome, NAU's home field, and on the artificial turf will certainly benefit his teammates. "The turf is kind of like concrete, it really hard. And they're going to pack the place, so it's going to be really loud because everything echoes off that dome," he said about the 15,300-person capacity facility.

Gene Mejia has also made a name for himself at Adams State, serving as an all-purpose player. The junior from Tucson, Ariz. starts at wide receiver, returns kickoffs and punts.

"It gives our players from Arizona a great opportunity to show NAU that they don't do a great deal of recruiting out of Tucson," Mejia said. "I think it would be a great win for us."

Kickoff is at 6 p.m. in Flagstaff, which does not go on daylight savings time meaning a 7 p.m. start for ASC fans who want to catch the game on KSPK-FM, the flagship station for Grizzly athletics. Sports Director Larry Patrick will have the play-by-play call on 103.5 FM and via the internet at www.kspk.com.

Visit ASCGrizzlies.com for the latest news and info on Adams State College Athletics.

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