On Friday night,the Mingus Union High School football Marauders will begin the 2014 season. Last year, it was a tale of two different seasons. During the first six games, the team played poorly. Its record was 1-5. But then, Mingus turned it around and finished the season 5-5.
The Marauders' first game is at Snowflake. The team has had chances to prepare for the Snowflake Lobos. Two weeks ago. they scrimmaged each other. Head coach Bob Young said after that scrimmage the offense was well ahead of the defense. Last week, the team scrimmaged against the Agua Fria Owls. Young said the defense looked much better. In that scrimmage, the Marauders showed they're capable of big plays as sophomore running back Jason Groth scored on a 60-yard touchdown run.
Young said the team is looking strong going into Friday.
"We're ready to get started," he said. "It's been a long offseason."
Last year Mingus lost the season opener to Snowflake 36-21. Young said how the team starts will be the key to outcome.
"We got off to a bad start," he said. "I think we got down 22-0. Second half we scored some points. But we just need to come out and start off stronger than what we did last year."
He added that like last year, Snowflake will be a challenge.
"They're always well coached," Young said. "They're fast, one of the best teams in Northern Arizona.
According to Maxpreps.com, Snowflake is ranked No. 52 in the state, while Mingus is 110.
The Marauders have a lot of new and young players on both offensive and defensive line. Despite the inexperience, Young said he thinks they will play well.
"They're not going to ask for birth certificates," he said. "So they're going to have to go out there and play. They are progressing. I thought our offensive line did a really good job in the scrimmage. The defense is coming along. We are just trying to get better every day."
The game will be a first for one Marauder. Junior quarterback Jordan Upham will be making his first start as a varsity quarterback. As a sophomore, Upham played Safety for Mingus. Young said he thinks his quarterback's mindset is in the right place.
"That's one of his strengths," Young said. "He's smart and he's been studying film. He understands the offense, so I think he will do well."
Young added he's not surprised Upham has transitioned from defense to offense so well.
"That was the plan," Young said. "When we looked at projected starters at who was coming up, we knew he was going to be our quarterback of the future. I didn't plan on him having to play safety on varsity. It just happened and it was a great experience for him."
It's reasonable to expect Upham might be nervous for his first start.
"Maybe a little bit," Upham said. "But mostly excited."
Upham said the offensive is coming along well heading into the first game.
"We definitely improved from last week," he said.
Upham said a victory over Snowflake could jump start their season.
"It would hopefully show what our season can be," he said.