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Buckeye football preparing for Hawaii

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The Buckeye Hawks went to camp early this summer. (Photo special to WVV)

The Hawks will go to Hawaii in August. (Photo special to WVV)

By Casey Pritchard

Buckeye’s football team had good results in summer competition, and one that was not so favorable. However, coach Kelley Moore and his team talked at length about the less-than-desirable showing, and what they’ve learned from it.

“We ended poorly, and it was a complete blessing,” Moore said. “Normally, at camp, when kids are tired and all that, we dig into resolving conflict and all that stuff, but because we had a meltdown in the (Peoria) Liberty tournament, a complete team, big-man, skill-guy meltdown, instead of waiting for camp to deal with that kind of stuff, we got to do it that night.”

Moore and the Hawks went to camp early this summer, from July 6 to July 10. They went to Bisbee to save money for their upcoming trip to Hawaii (August 16 to August 21), for which they are $8,000 short.

“It sounds like a lot, but we’ve raised $95,000,” Moore said. “So, really, it’s just trying to squeeze that blood out of a turnip, that last 10 percent, and quite honestly, we need some help from our community.”

Those interested in donating can contact Moore at

The Hawks will play a zero-week game against Kailua High School in Kailua, Hawaii, but Moore also wants to take his athletes on educational experiences while in Hawaii. He’s planning to visit Pearl Harbor, the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific and the Polynesian Cultural Center.

“We’re going (to Hawaii). The question is, are we going over as an opportunity to build a memory, or are we going over for laughs and giggles?” Moore said.

“The Polynesian Cultural Center is $7,000, and that’s a 20 percent discount they gave us. So, the memories that they would create, this lifetime memory maker, versus going over and eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and playing a football game. It makes a big difference.”

Although Buckeye’s summer performance ended on a rough note, the beginning of the season showed a lot of promise.  

“This summer was really exciting because when you look at us physically, compared to some of the teams we’ve played, like Liberty, (Peoria) Sunrise Mountain, Millennium, we physically look like a JV team, but competitively, we’re big time,” Moore said. “Our guys have heart.”

In addition to having heart, the competitive spirit of the team has been overwhelming, Moore said.

“I don’t know if you can teach that, but I believe you can cultivate it,” Moore said. “This is the start of (my) fourth year, and each year, the linemen have paid it forward to the next year’s big men, and it’s really starting to pay some dividends. It looks a lot like a championship organization, (not) somebody who’s tried to build one.”

Buckeye won two big-man tournaments over the summer, and was the runners-up at Desert Edge’s weekly competition in June. The Hawks were victorious at the Arizona Christian University and Universal Athletic tournaments.

In 7-on-7 competition, Buckeye finished second to Liberty in the ACU tournament, and made the quarterfinals at Universal Athletic. Several players have stepped up for the Hawks this summer, Moore said.

“The senior leadership has been outstanding,” Moore said. “On the line, it’s Troy Delgado, Jesus Mireles, Angel Gordillo, Eduardo Zaragoza. Skillwise, our quarterback J.C. Perez, a little sophomore Angel Macedo, Anthony Smart, Albert Buelna, Javon Sheron, Darzell Smith, Montell Hibbitt. It’s crazy. They, collectively, have really matured as a group. It’s a lot of fun.”

The Liberty event didn’t produce the same results for Buckeye, but it was a learning lesson.

“Kids attached failing with being a failure, and that’s not the case,” Moore said. “We got a chance to really focus in on the process, instead of the outcome, so those guys could see how they had competed the whole summer at a high level. And honestly, we were due for a letdown, and it happened. That doesn’t mean you don’t come back the next day, which we did, and pound it some more. It was really outstanding.”

After returning from camp, the Hawks’ goal for the rest of the summer is to raise the remaining money they need for Hawaii. Moore said he hopes the community will help, because he knows his athletes will return the favor.

“The maturation of our kids’ character, and their ability to serve the community; I’m extremely happy with our others-centered attitude, and I’m just hoping the community will respond for these young men and give them an opportunity to pay back,” Moore said. “We’ll speak at service organizations, the kids will go down to elementary schools and talk about their experience. We’ll do anything that it takes to make the community of Buckeye a better place to live.”

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