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Wildcat seniors seeking vengeance

CHRIS CODUTO/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Senior free safety Clay Hardt will be Arizona's defensive captain for the last time against the Sun Devils Friday in Tempe. "I will be a little sad, but I know I'll be happy that I finished strong," Hardt said.
By Shane Bacon
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, November 26, 2003
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When the Wildcats take the field against the hated Sun Devils this Thanksgiving weekend, an elite group of twelve guys will be gracing themselves with the Arizona "A" for the last time.

The Wildcats' senior group has not only been through as much controversy as any collegiate athletes in recent memory, but they have also had a hard time grabbing wins - which would make a victory in Friday's finale a real cherry on the top of their careers.

"It's going to be crazy," said senior free safety Clay Hardt. "(We are) definitely excited to get out there and play."

Hardt will be taking the reins as defensive captain this weekend for one last time. He said that amongst all the memories he's had in his five years as a Wildcat, the sweetest thing in the world is beating Arizona State.

"(My favorite memory) was beating them up during the game and then beating them up after the game," Hardt said of the brawl following the 2001 contest.

Hardt will join another pair of seniors - offensive lineman Reggie Sampay and defensive back Gary Love - as team captains this weekend. All three men consider captaincy to be the highest honor anyone could have given them.

"It is a great honor to be captain," Love said. "Our teammates selected us and we'll be taking these younger kids to a true rivalry."

The seniors will be taking a team up Interstate 10 that has seen players turn in their spikes, three losses to teams with a 10-1 record and an ugly end to a long coaching career - all in the same season.

The leaders know that they have to block all those negatives out of the younger players' minds and really show them how ugly this rivalry is.

Love said he has to play his best this week, and when a reporter asked him if the attitude between the two teams was that of a brotherly "have to beat the other sibling" mentality, his eyebrows raised.

SAUL LOEB/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Senior defensive back Gary Love, right, has been named a co-captain for Friday's game against archrival ASU. "It's going to be emotional knowing it's the last time in an Arizona uniform. I'm going to honestly miss it," Love said.

"No, it is nothing like that," Love sternly stated. "This is a real hatred. Fans try to spit on you when you're walking through the tunnel. This is nothing like that. This is real hate."

So, what do the guys think will be running through their minds when they walk off the field, knowing it will be their last time in a Wildcat uniform?

"I will be a little sad," Hardt said. "But I know I'll be happy that I finished strong."

"It's going to be emotional knowing it's the last time in an Arizona uniform," Love added. "I'm going to honestly miss it."

The senior leaders will have a chance to make the Sun Devils wind up last in the Pacific 10 Conference with a win this week. More importantly, they will also have a chance to regain the Territorial Cup the Wildcats lost in last year's game - the oldest game trophy recognized by the NCAA.

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