Sunday, May 27, 2007

Linfield Legend: Ray Lions (Safety) 1999-2003

2003 graduate and former 1st team All-American Safety Ray Lions is our final Linfield Legend for our 2007 video season. Ray was a stand out on a Linfield team that was full of all-stars. A terrible neck injury cut short his senior 2003 season during the season opener but Ray’s impact on Linfield football is undeniable.

3x All-NWC Linebacker, teammate, and good friend, Ryan Boatsman (#5) is nice enough to share his thoughts about his time playing football with Ray and why Ray is a Linfield Legend.
One of my favorite Linfield Football quotes of all time came during a film session one late fall night. “If you guys haven’t realized it yet, this defense is designed to get Ray tackles.” – Coach Joe Smith

We all nicknamed Ray “The Golden Child”, but his Linfield Football career didn’t start off with bang; it started off with a sting. That is a bee sting. Ray actually sat out most of his freshman daily doubles because his ankle was stung by a bee. Talk about a “Contract Player” from day one. In all seriousness though, we all knew that there was a fire blazing in what he would like to call, the “Heart of a Lion”. (Ray paid my 10 bucks to put that in)

When I think about Ray on the field, I think about “The Switch”. Ray is one of the most laid back dudes you will ever meet off the field, but you put that bonnet on his dome, play the national anthem and blow that whistle, the switch turns on. And that switch didn’t turn off until the final whistle blew and he was in the locker room trying to trick the freshman to see his red eye. We won’t go down that path, but I will post an uncensored Ray Lions bio later. Most players get in the zone during a game and compete with passion, but Ray was always one level above all of the others on the field. The intensity that he brought to games and even during practice sparked fires in everyone around him. He was notorious for smack talk, but most of the time he was just trying to get the juices flowing on the other side of the ball. He always wanted the opponents to give 110% each play because he loved the battle.

During the years Ray played, he was never even close to having the fastest 40 time (even though Coach Smith would always try to make it sound better than it really was), but he was always the fastest player to the ball come Saturday. I had never played with anyone that had the timing Ray possessed to hit a receiver as soon as the ball grazed their hands. The best thing about him is that his philosophy was “ALWAYS go for the hit first, the picks will come later”. He had the Ray Lewis mentality at the free safety position. When I played rover and LB, I usually had the best view of his monster hits he put on those poor receivers. Especially those Whitworth Rat receivers in that fancy no-back offense they thought might work against us. I still get chills when I think about those hits.

Our class (2003) had a ton of close games throughout our playing years including some of my favorite SOU overtime games. Ray was always the backbone of our goal line stands and my ears are still ringing from Ray yelling, “BEND BUT DON’T BREAK”, from right behind me. Even though his career was cut short due to injury, he is still a Linfield Legend (maybe even more so in his own mind).

Ryan Boatsman (Linebacker 1999-2003,) Ray Lions Linfield Legend


Downtown48 said...

There are some great kill shots on that tape. You could tell he was gonna be a player when he was a freshman.

Wildcat11 said...

If I remember right his first game as a Frosh was against Menlo in 2000. That's when the Oaks had that killer passing attack. Tough was to start your career.

How many good to great Safeties has Linfield had in row?

chargercat36 said...

I am fortunate to have many memories of Ray from my time as a Wildcat. Ray was a leader and a roll model for every young player who was privileged to be a Wildcat while he was there. By the time I earned a spot in the Wildcat line up with Ray it only lasted a short time. In the first game of the season Ray's career was cut short. This was hard for Ray and for the many who called him a friend. I have never seen a player in my whole life who's love and passion for the game was so great. There is no doubt in my mind that had Ray not been lost there would have been back to back national titles in '03 and '04.