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Onto the next step

SIERRA VISTA — Life continues after high school. It may be scary figuring out what’s next but something always comes.

For six Buena football players — Mandrell Garrick, Kaleb Bryant, Timothy Jones, Manaia Fruean, James Bias and Nazir Riddle — their next chapter began Wednesday when they signed their letters of intent to play and attend three different schools in the fall.

Riddle, Garrick, Jones and Bryant are sticking together to play at College of the Desert in Palm Desert, California.

“It means a lot to have my teammates going to the same school,” Riddle said. “It’s different than going alone because I will have friends there and we already have the chemistry on the field.”

Riddle finished his senior season with 31 total tackles and two interceptions — none bigger than his pick six against Marana to tie the game in the second half, which head coach Joe Thomas spoke to in his words about Riddle Wednesday during the signing party.

Jones will also help the Roadrunners on the defensive side of the ball. The linebacker had 80 tackles for the Colts last season. Jones originally verbally committed to San Bernardino but decided to officially commit to College of the Desert because he like the coaching staff and how the team is like a family and family oriented.

“It’s a dream come true to compete at the next level,” Jones said. “I’m going to continue to work. I’ll me nice having a piece of home with me.”

Bryant hopes to make an impact on the offensive side of the ball for his new school like he did for Buena last fall. In his last season he has 1,079 rushing yards on 150 carries.

“I’m happy my career isn’t over and I hope it’s not over at the end of next season,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the coaching staff. they seem really nice.”

While Riddle, Garrick, Jones and Bryant hope their time in junior college will lead them to a Division I school Fruean and Bias have different plans.

Fruean will attend the Merchant Marine Academy in the fall where he will play football and try out for the wrestling team. However, it was the idea of being able to travel that attracted him to the Merchant Marine Academy.

“It means a lot to me because not only do I get to continue to play the game I love but I get to meet new people,” Fruean said.

Bias will attend Central College in Iowa where he will wrestle next year and then try for football his sophomore year. Bias missed significant time this past football season and then in the wrestling season after a car accident, which is why he feels so lucky to be able to continue to participate in both.

“Three years ago if you told me I’d be a college wrestler I would have thought you were crazy,” Bias said. “It (Central College) feels like a family and how I feel here so I’m not worried about the distance.”

Thomas reminded each of his athletes that there will be a lot of talented players where they are headed and to listen to their coaches because they do have their best interest at heart. He also told them to stay focused because their grades matter and working towards their degree, whether its an associates or bachelors, is important because if football doesn’t work out that piece of paper will help them.

While all six are going their own ways from Buena they all said they will carry the lessons and wisdom their coaches shared with them.

“Being held accountable for your actions is something I will definitely take from Buena,” Garrick said. “I’m looking forward to going to college and getting my education and playing football.”

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