They say that all’s well that ends well, and by that standard, the Mingus Union Marauders football team has done incredibly well.
A 27-3 trouncing of the rival Prescott Badgers in their final game Friday, Nov. 1, on Bright Field in Cottonwood, capped a season-ending four-game winning streak for the Marauders.
And even though the victory will not place Mingus [5-5] in the state playoffs, it did knock the previously 12th-seeded Badgers [6-4] out of the playoffs, and it provided the Marauders’ players, coaches and fans with a happy ending to a season that had a disappointing beginning.
“The last four weeks we really turned it on. The seniors knew this was their last game and they really did an outstanding job — offense, defense and special teams,” said Marauders head coach Bob Young. “Jesse Rios, Anthony Broyles and Micah Nevarez all had great games and the defense played great all season; they just turned it up a notch these last three or four weeks.”
Rios, who had a combined 151 yards rushing and receiving against the Badgers, said the Marauders were hurt by a brutal early schedule, but he feels like the team redeemed itself in the end.
“It just goes to show that we’re not what everyone thought we were — we’re not the worst team to come through Mingus,” Rios said. “We’re Mingus football players, and we came in and put in the work and this is what you get, you get to be happy at the end of the season, that’s all you could hope for.”
Nevarez said the Marauders knew going into the game that they wouldn’t make the playoffs, so they treated it like a playoff game.
“The whole time, coach was like, ‘This is our bowl game.’ He said that in the past there’s only been one team that had a four-game win streak at the end, and for us to do it he would be really proud of us.” Nevarez said. “We listened to what he said, and we did what he planned, and that’s how it ended.”
The Badgers drove to the Mingus 31-yard line on the game’s opening drive, but senior Dakota Hanks blocked a long field goal attempt and the Marauders took over at their own 36.
On first down the Marauders executed a pitch-back to senior Tanner Caron, who passed over the middle to Rios for 32 yards to the Badger’s 32.
Rios then ran around left end to the 12-yard line, then three plays later Nevarez threw a five-yard pass to Rios for the Marauders’ first touchdown.
“We knew that they would be coming up on the run a lot,” Rios said. “So the first play of the game we ran that pitch-back, and for the touchdown we just ran a power pass, we faked power and just lobbed it out because their safeties weren’t staying back and that got them to loosen up.”
Junior linebacker Levi Collins sacked Prescott quarterback Will Kepner at the
13-yard line, and a short punt gave Mingus excellent field position at the Badgers’ 37.
After five short runs, Nevarez placed a beautiful spiral right on the hands of Rios for a 28-yard touchdown that gave the Marauders a 14-0 lead with just over 2 minutes to play in the first quarter.
Senior Jahir Jacobo kicked a 28-yard field goal, and Prescott kicker Christian Fernandez kicked a 19-yard field goal to make the score 17-3 at halftime.
Jacobo also added a 35-yard field goal in the third quarter.
A penalty wiped out a long run by Nevarez in the fourth quarter, but Rios followed it with a 36-yard run to the Prescott 47-yard line, and Broyles folllowed that with a 35-yard run to the 12.
Two plays later, Broyles ran 9 yards up the middle for the Marauders’ final touchdown.
Nevarez said that the coaches had made an excellent game plan for Prescott, and the players knew it was just up to them to execute it.
“We just showed what we could do this last game, we could have done this all year and we finally pulled it together this game,” he said. “The seniors knew it was our last time, the underclassmen knew it was our last time and the seniors didn’t leave anything, the underclassmen didn’t leave anything. They wanted us to go out with a good win and they did it for us.”
For the full story, please see the Wednesday, Nov. 6, issue of the Cottonwood Journal Extra.