Wed, Nov

For the first time in 23 years, the football programs at Mingus Union and Camp Verde high schools will lock horns Friday, Oct. 28, in a matchup almost everyone can’t wait to see.

Camp Verde High School’s linebacker Jake Spleiss, right, and Mingus Union High School’s running back Carlos Abrigo will face off against each other with their respective teams during a long-awaited showdown between the Cowboys and the Marauders football teams at Sam Hammerstrom Field in Camp Verde on Friday, Oct. 28. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.“Even the day of our game last week, I had people saying they can’t wait for the Mingus game; it’s just crazy,” longtime Camp Verde Head Coach Luke Steege said.

Mingus Head Coach Bob Young thinks along the same lines as Steege, stating this contest is just another game, a game that needs to be won.

“It’s just another game we need to win. We haven’t thought about it much because we’ve been focused on our other opponents. For the kids it will be exciting, and it’s really more for the communities,” Young said.

Although the coaches will try to convince their respective players, the community members and even their own schools this is just another game, it’s not.

The two programs have been wildly successful in the last decade-plus, and are only 15 miles apart from one another.

Mingus won a 4A conference state title in 1997, and the Cowboys have made the 2A conference state playoffs almost every year since Steege took over in the late ’90s.

Thanks to the new Arizona Interscholastic Association alignment scheme, the Cowboys and Marauders will get their chance to finally settle what every Verde Valley sports fan wonders each season: Can Camp Verde, a solid football program but a much smaller school, compete with a much bigger school in Mingus, a program that is very successful?

Football fans will find out Friday shortly after the scheduled 7 p.m. kickoff time.

The first game these two football programs played against one another came in 1970. Mingus won the battle, 20-8, and has never looked back. Mingus is a perfect 7-0 all-time in the series with Camp Verde. The last game was in 1988, another Marauders victory at 41-7.

Both coaches admittedly watched film tirelessly this past weekend after their games Friday, Oct. 21, in an effort to get ready for the last regular season game.

Camp Verde celebrated its seniors with a 53-0 drubbing over Greyhills Academy High School this past Friday to improve to 7-2 overall this season. Mingus, on the other hand, was unable to earn a victory against Snowflake High School, losing a heartbreaker 32-29.

The Marauders trailed 26-21 with two minutes to go in the third quarter before Snowflake quarterback Chase Walden connected with wide receiver Brit Smith on an 81-yard touchdown pass, putting the game out of reach for Mingus.

Snowflake had 395 yards of total offense, 265 of which came in the air as Walden completed 12 of 24 passes for two touchdowns.

In Camp Verde, the Cowboys have nothing to lose playing Mingus, according to Steege.

“We are not defining our season with only one game against Mingus, but they are playing for their playoff lives this week. It’s not going to affect our standing in the playoffs, and we’re not going to lose a home game at state over it,” Steege said.

The Cowboys sit at No. 4 in the Division V AIA power point rankings, while Mingus is 5-4 overall and sits at No. 12.

If Camp Verde wins, it will more than likely stay at No. 4 and host a first-round game when the Division V state playoffs begin Friday, Nov. 4. If the Marauders lose, they could drop out of the Division IV playoff picture all together.

At No. 13 through No. 16 sit Window Rock [6-3], Coolidge [6-3], Parker [6-3] and Chinle [5-3] high schools. All four programs have a good chance at winning their respective games this Friday, meaning if Mingus loses, it would more than likely be done for the season.

“This is an absolutely must-win game for us,” Young said. “If we win, we’re going to the state playoffs. If we lose, we’re done. That’s how I’m looking at it.”

The Cowboys won’t risk any players to injury if they feel it is not in their best interest.

“We’re more concerned about the state playoffs. We still have some guys healing up, so if we see that they need to be pulled out to rest, we’ll do it,” Steege said.

Knowing full well they had no chance for a state berth, the Marauders still played well until the end, finishing third overall at the second annual John Uidenich Memorial Invitational on Friday, Oct. 21.

Gary Baker hits onto the green during a Mingus Union High School golf tournament in Cornville on Thursday, Oct. 20. Mingus wrapped up its season Friday, Oct. 21, while hosting the John Uidenich Memorial Invitational.In the last high school match of his career, senior J.C. Lawler finished on a high note, taking first overall individually with an even par 71 performance Friday at Verde Santa Fe Golf Course.

“That’s pretty cool. He won the last high school tournament of his career,” Mingus Union High School golf Head Coach Craig Mai said.

Bradshaw Mountain High School product Tyler Inglehart finished second overall with a 75 [+4] while Drew Fockler of Coconino High School tied him for second with a 75.

Blair Walsh, of Prescott High School, took fourth with a 5-over-par 76, but his Badgers took home the team prize with a 323 [+39], good enough for first overall.

Nik Hubbard, of Flagstaff High School, rounded out the top five with a 6-over-par 77 performance.

Behind the Badgers for top team scores was Flagstaff, which had a 323 [+39] to tie for first place. The Eagles got second because Josh Lovett, who is the fifth golfer for Flagstaff, recorded an 86 [+15] during the 18-hole event while Prescott’s Drake Parker shot an 85.

Top performances for Mingus behind Lawler included sophomore Ryan Sullivan, who shot an 85 [+14], while sophomore Gary Baker struggled with a 15-over-par 86. Junior Tanner Wing wrapped up the top four for the Marauders with an 86 [+15].

“Gary [Baker] didn’t have his usual round,” a disappointed Mai said. “It was probably his worst of the year. If he even plays his average we probably win the tournament.”

Sophomore Baker has bright days ahead of him according to Mai, but the coach hopes the Arizona Interscholastic Association does something about the qualifying standards soon.

“It’s a ridiculous standard. You basically have to be a scratch golfer to qualify for state. This is high school. It’s too much pressure,” Mai said.

Golfers must record five scores two strokes or under the course rating that they play at to qualify for the Division II State Championships.

“Even junior colleges have standards that aren’t that difficult,” Mai said.

Fight fans were out in full force Saturday, Oct. 15, at the Stampede Showdown 2 in Camp Verde at a local car dealership looking to watch their favorite boxer or muay Thai fighter get a win.

Anthony Rojas, right, gets his hand raised Saturday, Oct. 15, at the Stampede Showdown 2 as he was declared the winner over James Currin-Hubbard of Wolf Pack Gym. Rojas fights out of the Golden Cobra Fitness Center in Cottonwood.“Look at how many people are here; there’s over 300 chairs and they are full and there’s another 50 to 70 people standing outside watching,” Golden Cobra Center of Fitness owner Richard Williams said.

The Golden Cobra Center of Fitness had several fighters going for the win Saturday, including Shawn Rojas at 170 pounds and brother Anthony Rojas at 189 pounds.

Shawn Rojas, who is 19 years old, lost his boxing match to Nick Andrano of Impact Center in Flagstaff by judges’ decision.

Anthony Rojas, the older of the two brothers at 22, was able to get a victory in the first fight of his career, defeating James Currin-Hubbard from Wolf Pack Gym in Indio, Calif.

“This felt awesome,” Anthony Rojas said while his crew unwrapped the tape from his hands. “I put my heart into it, and this is why I love the sport. I started training a few months ago and I’m happy to win my first fight.”

Other top fights from the Verde Valley included 14-year-old Saxon Vaughan, representing Golden Cobra out of Cottonwood. Vaughan, at 110 pounds, defeated Rosario Real from Hard Knocks Gym in Phoenix by judges’ decision.

At first, the fight was ruled a split decision, but after a recount, Vaughan was declared the winner.

In the main event Saturday, 29-year-old Cecil Tudor was able to win the light heavyweight U.S. Muay Thai title from Fank Bamford.

Tudor is from Glendale but is a part of the Golden Cobra clan, according to Williams.

“It was an awesome fight and the fans loved it. Cecil [Tudor] works out down in Glendale at the Blue Collar Gym, but he’s a part of us too,” Williams said.

The only disappointing match of the night for fans was the fourth bout, because there was no fight. Golden Cobra muay Thai fighter Mike Newhall, a 19-year-old Cottonwood resident, was unable to fight Saturday for reasons not released to the press.

Newhall was scheduled to fight Mike Brown of Champs Gym in Phoenix. Brown was declared the winner by default.

The Phantoms and Cowboys seemed destined for overtime Friday, Oct. 14, before sophomore Jesse Alvey intervened, scoring with 30 seconds to go to give the Camp Verde High School boys soccer team a 1-0 victory.

Sophomore Jesse Alvey lunges forward to take the ball away from a Grand Canyon High School player during a home match Friday, Oct. 14.Senior teammate Trent Fogelson shot first, sending the ball off the cross bar in a scoreless match as those in attendance gasped in excitement.

Although Fogelson missed his opportunity, Alvey had no plans to miss the next time around, getting the rebound in front of the Grand Canyon High School goalkeeper, and using his head to net the score for the Cowboys.

Alvey needed to be helped off the field thanks to an elbow shot he received from the Grand Canyon goalkeeper, but he was OK and made sure his teammates knew it by laughing and joking with them after the win.

“We have a bunch of sophomores on our team and they have talent, so they just need experience,” longtime Camp Verde Head Coach Dave Miller said after the match. “We controlled the game and were able to finish at the end.”

Miller went on to say his team’s biggest issue at the moment is not being able to finish the score at the goal. A perfect example of that was Friday’s match with Grand Canyon as the Cowboys outshot the Phantoms 23 to 5.

In the goal for Camp Verde, sophomore Andy Woodward had four saves in the 1-0 victory.

With the win, Camp Verde improves to 6-7 overall this season and is 4-5 in Arizona Interscholastic Association power point play. The Cowboys are ranked No. 13 in Division IV.

Next up, the Cowboys have a rematch with rival Chino Valley High School on Thursday, Oct. 20. The Cougars defeated Camp Verde on Sept. 17, 5-2, but Cowboys are looking for revenge. Start time is scheduled for 6 p.m.

The Mingus Union High School golf team had one of its best outings of the season Thursday, Oct. 6, finishing first overall out of four teams at the Prescott Country Club.

sophomore Gary Baker finishes a hole well and garners praise from other teams’ coaches during a home golf tournament on Oct. 4. On Thursday, Oct. 6, Baker was the top performer for the Mingus Union High School golf team, recording a 4-over-par 40 at the Prescott Country Club.Playing the front nine, Mingus shot a 165 [+21] to beat out rival Bradshaw Mountain High School, which shot a 172 [+28].

Prescott High School came in third with a 174 [+30] and Mohave High School wrapped up the top four with a 209 [+65] stroke score.

“J.C. [Lawler] and Gary [Baker] were not at their best, but the other three picked it up. The whole team contributed and played well. It’s the best performance we’ve had as a team this season,” Mingus Head Coach Craig Mai said.

Sophomore Gary Baker led the way with a 4-over-par 40 performance, missing the state cut by three strokes. Baker lead the Marauders with two qualifying rounds in 2011. He must earn a qualifying score in three of the final four meets for Mingus if he wants to go to the Division II State Championships.

Sophomore Ryan Sullivan had one of his best performances of the season, matching Baker with a 4-over-par performance on the front nine.

Junior Tanner Wing shot a 42 [+6] while senior J.C. Lawler had a 43 [+7] to total Mingus’ 165 on the day. Lawler must shoot a qualifying score in all four remaining matches for the Marauders if he is to go to state.

Next up, Mingus will play in Munds Park on Thursday, Oct. 13, in an effort to tune up for the Mountain Ridge Invitational in Flagstaff at the Continental Country Club this coming weekend.

The Mountain Ridge Invitational begins Friday, Oct. 14, and goes through Saturday, Oct. 15. Tee times for both days are set for 9 a.m.

The Camp Verde High School girls soccer team seems to have gotten things back on track in the last month of games including a 4-0 win over visiting Payson High School on Thursday, Oct. 6.

Page Kenny leaps in the air to get past a defender Thursday, Oct. 6, against Payson.“We’re starting to look really good,” Camp Verde Head Coach Pat Allen said. “The team is in good shape, and we are prepared to finish the season strong.”

After the Show Low Invitational Tournament on Sept. 9 and 10, the Cowboys were sitting at 1-6 overall and had serious doubts as to whether the team was going to be good or not.

Since then, Camp Verde has gone 6-3 to right the ship to bring its record to 7-9 overall this season. The Cowboys are 4-4 in Arizona Interscholastic Association power point matches, putting them at No. 9 in the polls in Division IV.

In Thursday’s match, senior Maria Diate started things off with a first-half goal to make it 1-0 over Payson.

Senior Emily Showers scored two goals to make it 3-0 and senior Tori Mathews made it 4-0 with a goal of her own in the final minutes of the match.

“We have a good chance to finish the season strong and look good going into the state playoffs,” Allen said.

The Cowboys have three matches remaining on the regular season schedule before the Division IV state playoffs begin Friday, Oct. 28, in Phoenix.

The first of three comes Saturday, Oct. 15, 3 p.m., when Camp Verde travels to River Valley High School. Camp Verde will make its last regular season road trip Thursday, Oct. 20, at Chino Valley High School, with the game starting at 1 p.m.

The girls will wrap things up at home as they play host to Northland Preparatory Academy on Saturday, Oct. 22.

Official start time against Northland Preparatory is set for 4 p.m.

After Coconino High School scored on its first possession Friday, Sept. 30, Marauders fans figured it was no big deal because of past success over the visiting Panthers.

Head Coach Bob Young puts his hand on his head in frustration while giving instructions before a player takes the field during a home game Friday, Sept. 30. The Marauders were defeated by the Panthers, 47-26.From then on, however, the Mingus Union High School football team couldn’t stop the Panthers’ offensive attack, forcing only three punts all night in a lopsided 47-26 loss.

“Coconino controlled the line of scrimmage and we couldn’t stop them. We didn’t come to play tonight, and they took it to us,” an upset Mingus Head Coach Bob Young said.

The loss to Coconino is the biggest upset of the season for Arizona high school football at the Division IV level since Coconino wasn’t even ranked in the top 25 in Division III before Friday night’s win.

Since 2004, Mingus has outscored the Panthers 307-50 and was a perfect 7-0 in that time span before Friday nights debacle. That’s a 43.8 to 7.2 average score over seven seasons including two 50-plus point victories in 2007 and 2008.

After the clock showed zeros across the board, Coconino players rushed the field jumping and screaming as if they had just won a state title.

They realized it was the first time since 2000 a Panther team had beaten Mingus, and it was the first loss at home for the Marauders since 2008.

“We took a huge step back Friday night, and if we don’t improve on defense we can expect more of the same in the coming weeks,” Young said.

The biggest contributor to Coconino’s amazing victory came from senior tailback Luke Daulton, who had 19 carries for 208 yards and two touchdowns. Daulton had one catch on a 41-yard touchdown strike and had four tackles and 1.5 sacks on defense.

Going back to the first quarter, despite Coconino taking an 8-0 lead after the first drive, Mingus struck back with two touchdowns of its own to go up 13-8.

On Mingus’ first play offensively, junior quarterback Luke Simmons found a seam within the option offense and ran 70 yards for the touchdown.

Mingus forced the Panthers to punt on their next possession, and on the ensuing play, senior Carlos Abrigo ran 55 yards for a touchdown.

On both plays, neither Simmons nor Abrigo were touched by a Coconino defensive player, giving fans reason to believe this was soon to be another blowout victory for the boys in red.

Coconino obviously had other plans in mind with the 46-27 victory, dropping Mingus to 3-3 overall this season.

The Marauders started the 2011 campaign 0-2 but had won three straight coming into the Coconino game.

With the loss, the Marauders are ranked No. 16 in the Division IV Arizona Interscholastic Association power point polls. The Panthers are ranked No. 23 in the Division III polls with a 3-3 record.

Next up, Mingus will try to pick of the pieces as it is set to travel to Payson High School on Friday, Oct. 7.

The Longhorns are 3-3 and are ranked just in front of Mingus at No. 15 in Division IV. Payson has victories over Chino Valley [19-12], Miami [48-11] and Sedona Red Rock [42-7] high schools.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

The inaugural Camp Verde Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 1, brought only three other high schools to compete with the Cowboys but Head Coach Mike O’Callaghan said they have to start somewhere.

Amber Yocum tears down the last hill at the inaugural Camp Verde Invitational. Yocum placed fifth overall but was the first runner from the Camp Verde girls team to cross the finish line.“Overall, it was a good day. The course was well received, and all the coaches said it was a good race and they’re looking forward to coming back,” O’Callaghan said.

Senior Cave Colton from Apache Junction High School won the race Saturday, finishing first overall with an 18:40 time.

The 18:40 time will be a benchmark for future runners who compete in this race, O’Callaghan said. The Camp Verde High School cross-country team plans to host this meet every season.

The first Camp Verde runner to cross the finish line for the boys was sophomore Joey Benson, who finished 10th overall with a 22:13 time. He was fourth among sophomores competing in the race.

Next up was senior Johnny Hudson, who was 17th overall with a 24:20 time, while freshman Michael Malloy was 20th overall with a 26:30 time.

Freshman Max Evans came in 22nd overall with a 27:38, and sophomore teammate Ryan Mallow was 23rd with a 27:40 time.

In the girls race, sophomore Amber Yocum took fifth overall with a 27:10 time while senior teammate Cassie Alvarez was behind her in sixth with a 27:51 time. Sophomore Shelby Monroe was seventh overall with a 28:18 time.

Apache Junction senior Caitlin Kressler won the inaugural meet Saturday for the girls, finishing first overall with a 23:39 time.

“It was a challenging course having to run through Butler Park but it looked like everyone enjoyed themselves,” O’Callaghan said.

Saturday’s meet signaled the halfway point of the 2011 season for Camp Verde, which will participate in the Arizona Lutheran Invitational on Wednesday, Oct. 12.

The next closest event Camp Verde fans will be able to see their Cowboys in is the Yavapai County Championships at Antelope Hills Golf Course in Prescott on Wednesday, Oct. 19.

The Yavapai County Championships are scheduled to start at 2 p.m.

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