6/12/2014 1:25:00 PM Growing pains Mingus football improving as new QB's broken in
Senior Herb Tiffany readies his hands for the incoming pass against Sedona during a 7-on-7 game at Camp Verde High School. Mingus’ receiving game has made strides since the beginning of the summer according to head coach Bob Young. VVN/Travis Guy
Teammates watch 2014 quarterback Jordan Upham read the field during a 7-on-7 game. VVN/Travis Guy
Coming into summer practices, Mingus Union football head coach Bob Young knew his long-time team would be on the wrong end of a learning curve when it came to quarterback development.
"Yeah, yeah," Young said. "They're all three ... Jordan, this will be his first year staring varsity quarterback and then we got two sophomores and that's what we have. They're all really good athletes but it's going to take them time to learn defenses and that's why this summer is so important for them to keep progressing."
But a few weeks in and the process has worked out smoother than he anticipated as junior Jordan Upham has developed nicely into the head shot caller for the Marauders, and his backups, two sophomores, are coming along as well.
"It went well, we're getting better," Young said. "This is the second week we've been in 7-on-7 and I think after tonight we've played 30-some odd games. The first week we really struggled on offense, Jordan, being a new quarterback, he struggled. As the week progressed we got better. We went to ASU last Monday (June 2) and he started to figure it out and then we went to San Diego and he did a really good job. So we're really getting better, I'm really pleased with the direction the offense and defense are both going."
One catalyst for Upham's development, and the teams, was a trip to San Diego for a 7-on-7 passing tournament. Overall Young was happy with how his team played and the bounds they took in improving.
"We just got way better," Upham said. "Our guys are running our routes better, reading better. Our defense is getting better and all that."
Upham was the junior varsity quarterback for a majority of the 2013 season before being called up to varsity to help out on defense. Even when playing against the ball and reading offenses, the then-sophomore knew that he would have to answer the call to lead his team the following year.
"Throwing varsity, it's been good," Upham said. "Each one of these tournaments makes me better. Last year I struggled a little bit but this year I'm the only guy they got so I have to step up."
This is different than the 2013 season where Young had three quarterbacks (Micah Nevarez, Tanner Caron and Marshall Shill) to choose from. No, there is only one this year and it is Upham. While some athletes may focus on the pressure that comes with the position the junior is in, Upham has tuned it out, knowing he cannot let himself think about it.
"I try not to think about that stuff because it will mess up my mind and everything but ... I don't think about that stuff I guess." Upahm said.
Recently Upham and the Marauders were in action in a five-way 7-on-7 tournament at Camp Verde and Mingus' passing game was looking smooth.
It was not perfect, nothing ever is this early in the summer, but it was good enough to have Young feeling good about where his team is at right now.
"We always need to work on catching the football," Young said. "I thought Jordan did a great job, the two young quarterbacks, they need to do a better job reading defenses, threw too many interceptions. Defensively, the first team came out a little slow the first few plays but then they picked it up. I thought defense played really well today."
It was not just Mingus' offense that was looking crisp. The defense was able to disrupt plays and get picks. Like Young said, they began flat but eventually their athleticism kicked in and they were looking good.
Now the Marauders travel to Flagstaff for a 7-on-7 tournament at NAU. It is a tournament that the team is looking forward to and give Young and his staff a look at their team against better competition.
"We're progressing," Young said. "We're in our third week of the summer, playing a lot of 7-on-7. We have a big tournament at NAU on Friday (June 13), that will be a good tournament for us."