|Senior Marshall Shill stretches his arms as he is tackled in front of the end zone at the Red and Grey scrimmage. VVN/Erin Figueroa|
|Senior Jesse Rios shakes the tackle and bolts towards the end zone after hauling in a catch. Rios scored the lone offensive touchdown of the game. VVN/Erin Figueroa|
|Mingus Union Red and Grey scrimmage, 2013. VVN/Erin Figueroa|
The Marauders' football program got their first taste of a live-game when they held Mingus' annual Red and Grey scrimmage on Aug. 16, and followed that with the programs best "blitz" in Marauders' history.
The "blitz" is when the team goes out around Cottonwood and sells discount cards to raise money for the program. Head coach Bob Young said it was the most lucrative year since its inception, and the money raised will go towards new uniforms and equipment, among other things.
"Yeah, this was the best we've ever done," Young said. "We've been doing this for probably 12 years now. The kids did a great job; we raised about $19,000 in a week and a half. (The money raised will go towards) uniforms and equipment and all sorts of things. They really did a great job."
Four days before the student-athletes impressed their coaches with how much they raised, the team had mixed results on the field in their first full-speed scenario, resulting in varying opinions. Overall, Young was happy with the progression of his team, especially his seniors, but said there are still things the Marauders need to work on, and he will learn more about his team when they play a different team.
"We looked at a lot of things we've got to do to get better," Young said. "Overall, when you scrimmage yourself you don't really find out a lot about your team, because everything's watered down, but there were some real good individual performances. I think the older guys did really well, which we kind of expected, the younger guys are still trying to learn their plays, but most of the older guys, they're right on track. We just need to continue to get better."
Senior quarterback Micah Nevarez thought the scrimmage went well and enjoyed the full-contact aspect, compared to the lighter practices, when teammates are not hitting each other as hard, or at all.
"I thought it went good," Nevarez said. "I like the contact. I was excited to finally go full-speed ... we could actually make full contact to see what we each got."
Of those great individual performances Young mentioned, it was Jesse Rios that scored the only offensive touchdown, for the Grey team. Rios, along with a handful of his teammates, are adding another aspect to Mingus' game.
Traditionally known as a running team, Young said that while the Marauders will stay true to that, they would also add any new wrinkles they can. With the likes of Rios, senior Brennan Kitchen and Zach Simmons, among others, the team should have a decent receiving corps to pair with their shot callers, who can air it out.
"We've always been known as a running team, and that will continue to be our focus. We did real well on 7-on-7, and I think we've got quarterbacks that can throw, and Rios and Brennan Kitchen and Tanner Caron, when he's not quarterbacking, and Zach Simmons, we've got guys that can catch the ball, so we'll throw the ball. I like to mix it up if we can."
While the offense only tallied one score, the defense was able to capitalize on the offenses mistakes and recover three turnovers for scores, two pick-6's and a fumble.
"Pretty much all the fumbles were carelessness on the running backs part," Young said. "The defense did a good job of being there, and to the defenses' credit, they scored touchdowns on three drives, that's a great job by the defense. But, I'm disappointed with our carelessness with the ball, we've got to do a better job with that."
Senior Anthony Broyles was happy with the defense's results after the scrimmage, and was able to set a benchmark for the defense.
"I thought, personally, defense had the better night. In reality there was only one offensive touchdown, and it was Jesse's. I mean it was a great screen, but in reality, defense scored three touchdowns; two pick-6's and a fumble recovery. I think defense had a good night."
Broyles followed that up by setting a benchmark for the defense this season.
"I'll be surprised if teams get an average of 15 points on us," Broyles said. "Offense wins games, defense wins championships."
Even though Young said that all phases of the team needed some work, he agreed with some of his players assessments of the team in saying that the defense was ahead of the offense, which is common at the beginning of the season, and could be the stronger unit.
"Usually, this time of the season, that's the way it is, I think," Young said. "When we looked at the construction of this team, I think that we tried to put our best 11 on defense, so they better be good."
For senior lineman Jake Hockman, the scrimmage provided him and his teammates a chance to see where everyone will be playing.
"We get to see where everyone gets put now," Hockman said. "Shelly (Robert Shelly) being a senior, T-Donk (Tyler Bond), we know they're starting now. I'm not going to be on offense, because they're saving me for defense, but now that we watch film on our starting line, I like it. I like the way we look."
Going into the spring, through the summer and into the fall, the Mingus coaching staff had an idea of where they would put people come football season. With fall practice going strong and the beginning of season rapidly approaching, Young reminded that despite student-athletes having their assignments for the scrimmage, anything could change if someone out performs someone else in practice.
"We started in spring football, kind of having an idea of where guys were going to play, but until you put it all together (you don't know)," Young said. Things will change, it's a fluid situation, like I tell guys, 'you're battling for playing time everyday in practice. You could be first string and if the guy behind you does a better job in practice, tomorrow might change.' It's a real fluid situation and we want guys competing all the time, but this started back in spring ball."
Now the Marauders will prepare for their final scrimmage before the start of the season. Mingus Union will host Agua Fria on Aug. 22, at 6 p.m., and the coaching staff and players will be able to see what the Marauders look like against an opposing team that is not full of their friends and teammates.
"It'll be a lot different because it is against another team, but we're not going to tweak a whole lot," Young said. "We've got some base information on what they're going to do, but it will still be about us. We've got some offensive stuff we want to work on, defensive packages, so it will just be against a different team, so that will be nice, because I think we're getting tired of hitting each other."