Empire to start game against Palo Verde with 10 men on the field to honor Grayson Weeksby Andy Morales on Aug. 29, 2013, under Sports
Saturday, November 10 of 2012 was the last game Empire played as a “small school.” It was a playoff loss to Snowflake. Jorge Mendivil had built the Ravens from the bottom up to a D-IV power since the school began competing at the varsity level in 2005.
Then, the AIA reconfigured the division alignments and Empire was “moved up” to D-III for at least the next two years beginning this fall. Raven QB Grayson Weeks was going to be the man to lead the team on the field and Mendivil was to lead them on the sidelines.
Empire was ready…
Mendivil was let go in the off season (along with the head coaches of several of the other programs at Empire) and he was replaced by his assistant W.T. Jeffries. Schools make coaching changes all the time – that’s part of athletics.
Sunday, December 16 of 2012. Grayson was a passenger in car driven by a Benson High School football player who rolled his vehicle near Marsh Station Road, for some unknown reason, shortly after midnight. Weeks did not survive.
School’s may make quarterback changes now and then, and that may be part of athletics, but the death of child should never be a part of life. Forget about the Ravens and forget about football and what might have been, all of that is not important now.
Weeks was only 16 years old.
All that matters is how Weeks will be remembered by family and friends – especially his mother Jennifer.
Jeffries has dedicated this season to Weeks and the team will wear wings on their helmets in honor of Grayson. The team will open up their 2013 season with only 10 men on the field against visiting Palo Verde on Friday night.
The “missing man position” will be a reminder of Grayson’s absence on the field but I fear there may be nothing to symbolize the loss of a child to a mother. But, each passing day and each fleeting moment might bring comfort – I do not know, but I pray it does.
Taking over the QB spot this season will be standout athlete Chance Hatfield. Hatfield ran for over 1,000 yards as a junior last year and was tied for a team-high 69 tackles along with fellow senior CJ McAviney.
Grayson was Chance’s friend on and off the field. A lot will be placed on Chance’s shoulders but those shoulders have yet to let Empire down, I doubt they will let Grayson down this year.
The city may be focused on the Sabino at Salpointe and Ironwood Ridge at Cienega games Friday night, but for my reporter’s handbook, the Palo Verde at Empire game will be the game of the night.
As first reported here, legendary Hall of Fame coach Todd Mayfield will return to the Palo Verde sidelines this year after retiring from the school in 2009. Mayfield won the state title in 2005 with a group of neighborhood kids from the central part of the city.
In the world of transfers and demanding parents, Mayfield’s victory was refreshing.
Empire is in the process of adding more bleacher sections to their facility and are building a bigger parking lot.
The driver of the car that killed Weeks will not be identified because he is allegedly involved in a criminal case stemming from his actions on that night and he is a minor.
Game time is scheduled for 7 pm at Empire high School.