LILLY HELPS CDO MAKE STATE PLAYOFFS - The Explorer: Import

LILLY HELPS CDO MAKE STATE PLAYOFFS

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Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2001 12:00 am | Updated: 7:46 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

Canyon del Oro High School football player Ryan Lilly is a busy guy.

In addition to being the Dorado's starting running back, Lilly is also the CDO baseball team's starting shortstop, he's a member of the Link Crew, which helps freshman adapt to campus life, he maintains a B average and he's the student council treasurer.

"I don't actually handle any money, but we all just get together and talk about ideas for the school," Lilly said.

Oh, and he somehow makes time for a girlfriend, too.

"She's pretty tolerant," he said of his girlfriend's willingness to deal with his hectic schedule.

But that hectic schedule is paying off.

Lilly, a senior, is being recruited by colleges for both baseball and football.

Pima Community College, which had its first football season ever this year, has already put an offer on the table that some might find hard to refuse.

"They pretty much told my dad I had a scholarship if I wanted it," Lilly said. "They want me to play free safety, which is what I played on defense, but I pretty much told them I wanted to be a baseball player."

Lilly said he has already been approached by the University of Arizona baseball coaching staff and Central Community College just outside of Casa Grande.

"I hope to hear from a couple more places," Lilly said. "But baseball season hasn't really started yet."

Ideally, Lilly said he would like to find the best school for both athletics and education.

Head football coach Patrick Nugent said while he thinks Lilly is a "tremendous" football player, he knows Lilly's devotion is to baseball.

"His direction will be in baseball," Nugent said, sounding a little disappointed. "I know he's being looked at by a few places for football, but baseball is where he will probably go."

Lilly said he started playing football in middle school, but got more serious about it after starting high school at CDO.

"It's so much fun," Lilly said. "I love it. Friday nights are the best."

Lilly started out playing defense for the Dorados and had to wait until this season to show off his skills as a running back.

"He had someone ahead of him last year so he had to wait his turn," Nugent said. "But now he's really come out and done a great job."

And he has the statistics to prove it. This season, Lilly rushed for 1,360 yards on 197 carries and scored 19 of the team's touchdowns.

"He's a great player for us," Nugent said.

Nugent also made Lilly one of the team's three captains, a position that requires both on- and off-the-field leadership, Lilly said.

"It's not just as much playing-wise, but I have to be there to pump people up on the field and watch out for them when we're off the field, too," Lilly said.

"He leads by his performance on the field," Nugent said. "He's not really a vocal leader, but he goes out there and does his drills as hard as he can."

And despite being in a leadership role, Lilly said everyone on the team has a great relationship with each other.

"We're all friends on this team," Lilly said. "We all hang out on the weekend and stuff."

Nugent also said Lilly is somewhat the "class clown" of the team, which can sometimes present a challenge.

"Sometimes we have to kind of calm him down a bit," Nugent said, laughing.

"Yeah, I'm always trying to have fun," Lilly admitted.

Friday's loss to Amphi High School didn't leave much room for clowning around, though.

Even though Lilly, who rushed for 133 yards on 26 carries, scored the second touchdown of the game that put the Dorado's ahead 13-0 in the second quarter, the team couldn't keep up with Amphi's offense, which eventually led to the Dorado's demise in a 35-13 loss.

The loss was thought to have eliminated CDO from any kind of state playoff berth which disheartened many of the Dorados' players, including Lilly, who spent the last minutes of the fourth quarter sitting on the bench with his tearful teammates.

"It was going good in the first half," Lilly said after the game. "In the second half we put our hearts out. I could have contributed a lot more, but my hip was still bothering me."

Lilly was injured two weeks earlier when he took a helmet to the hip. The injury caused him to miss the Nov. 2 game against Salpointe.

"It was really tough to lose," Lilly said. "This is the only football you get to play in your whole life."

But the tears no doubt turned to a smile when Nugent called him and a fellow teammate Saturday morning to tell him that CDO had made the playoffs after all based on the complicated power point system. This will be the Dorados first post-season appearance since 1995.

Basically, a team makes it into the playoffs depending on the wins and losses of their opponents, not just their own record.

"We were jumping up and down," Lilly said. "This is a huge thing for us. I'm still in shock right now. All us seniors had already packed up our stuff. We didn't expect to be here today."

But despite his excitement, Lilly said he knows from experience that state competitions can be tough, especially with their first opponent being Mesa Mountain View Nov. 16, the only undefeated 5A team.

The Dorados baseball team has competed at the post-season level several times, and Lilly said the competition should be just as fierce, no matter what the sport.

"It's still going to be competitive," he said. "But I'm really excited."

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