VERDE VALLEY - The 2012 Arizona high school football season starts Friday, Aug 24, and the Mingus Marauders host the Blue Ridge Yellow Jackets.
The Yellow Jackets haven't lost a game since Nov. 11, 2010 in a 3A state championship game against Show Low. Blue Ridge went undefeated last season in rout to winning the first Division IV Arizona state title.
The first game on the 2012 schedule served as a target for the Marauders and it motivated them in summer workouts. Mingus is the underdog because they posted a 5-6 record last season and they're playing the best D-IV team from last year.
Who's favored in the first game of the season doesn't mean much. Last year's outcome has no effect on this season and the Marauders believe they can win.
"I hope we come out and play hard because we're playing the defending state champs. We've worked awfully hard this off-season to get ourselves ready, so I expect us to come out and give a great effort," said Mingus head coach Bob Young.
Mingus players made a circle at midfield Wednesday in practice and Young asked them rhetorical questions leading to a main point: if the Marauders tackle, block, and take care of the ball they can win.
Senior Luke Simmons will start at QB for Mingus, Senior Tyler Herndon at tailback, Junior Anthony Broyles at wingback, and Junior Dakota Hanks at fullback.
The Mingus offensive line will have to deal with fast Yellow Jacket linebackers, including ASU recruit Chans Cox.
Led by Senior Josh Longfellow, the Mingus defense has looked strong in practice and scrimmages -- it could result in a low-scoring game.
"Our guys say they believe they can win, but the proof is going to be when we play Friday. It's one thing to talk it and it's another to actually believe it deep down and go out there and get after it," said Young. He added, "We should always play better at home. If we have any kind of home field advantage that would be sweet. We'd like to have a big crowd. It's the first game of the season and it's a big one, so we hope people are excited to come out and support the team."
The game starts at 7 p.m. on Bright Field. You'll probably want to get there early if you want to find a seat. The forecast calls for pain, but also a 60 percent chance of rain.