The Mingus Union High School boys soccer team missed the state playoffs last winter, but Head Coach Cade Densmore is determined to bring the Marauders back to the postseason.
“I’ve got a whole lot of guys this year and they are ready to roll,” Densmore said.
Mingus will have to do so in the newly minted Division III after the Arizona Interscholastic As-sociation realigned its schools in 2010, with team sports feeling the effects during the 2011-2012 school year.
The Marauders finished the 2010-2011 season with a 7-9 overall record, and were 6-6 in AIA power point matches. The 6-6 mark wasn’t good enough, however, to qualify for the state playoffs, leaving Mingus players without a postseason.
Top returners for the Marauders this season include senior captains Austin Strobel and Alex Contreras, who have been through it all for Mingus.
“This season is the one we’ve been waiting for. There’s a core group of seniors who have played together for years and we are finally at the point we’ve been working toward. All the guys have a want to win and are working hard to achieve our goal of setting Mingus boys soccer records,” Strobel said.
Strobel will start for the Marauders this winter for the fourth consecutive year, while Contreras should be a starter for the third year.
“I have great expectations for this season, but what I expect is only words. My words need to be put into action. Once the team and myself accomplish these actions we have the skill and ability to win each and every game we play,” Contreras said.
Other top returners include senior Williams Dominguez, a three-year starter, while seniors Andrew Hickey, Jorge Padilla and juniors Gilbert Quidera and Alan Castillo also return.
Quidera was the starting goalkeeper for Mingus last season, but is being challenged by two senior newcomers Johnny Lara and Anas Jibrin.
“I’m not sure how exactly it’s going to play out yet, but we’ll see what happens. All three are good, and whoever gets in there should do a good job for us,” Densmore said.
The Marauders will be without the services of three-year starting senior Jonathon Witt this season, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament last week and is done for the year.
As for the remaining top newcomers, sophomores Palon Walz, Omar Carrillo and Brennan Kitchen are out. Kitchen broke his hand in football this fall, but should recover in time to play most of the season.
Densmore couldn’t stop talking about Ruben Contreras and Elias Pandeca, a pair of young freshmen who made the varsity squad this season.
“Ruben [Contreras] could be one of the best overall players to ever come through Mingus if he continues to improve,” Densmore said.
Sophomore Christian Escobar made the team as well. Escobar, Contreras and Pandeca are all expected to get major playing time this season, according to Densmore.
The Marauders open the 2011-2012 campaign at home Tuesday, Nov. 29, when Bradshaw Mountain High School comes to town. Official start time is set for 5 p.m.
Other notable home matches for Mingus include Sedona Red Rock High School on Thursday, Dec. 15, and Prescott High School on Thursday, Jan. 12.