The No. 15 Mingus Union High School football team hung around with No. 1 Sunrise Mountain High School during the first half of the Marauders’ senior night, eventually falling 61-34 on Friday, Oct. 27.
The Marauders [5-5, 5-1] led 18-16 during the second quarter but trailed at halftime, and the Mustangs took over with three consecutive scores in the third.
“In the first half we played them toe-to-toe; we just ran out of gas,” Marauders head coach Bob Young said. “They had a lot more depth than we did and they just wore us down the second half, but I thought our kids played their guts out. We scored more points on them than anyone has all year.”
Despite the loss, Mingus did win sole possession of the Grand Canyon Region title as Prescott High School beat Bradshaw Mountain High School 44-27.
Against Sunrise Mountain [9-1, 4-0], the Marauders got on the board first. Junior quarterback Antoine Zabala found junior wide receiver Chaz Taylor for a five-yard score and Zabala rushed it in himself for the two-point conversion.
The Mustangs countered with a four-yard rushing score later on, but failed the two-point attempt. They scored to open the second quarter as well, as junior quarterback Keegan Freid hit senior wide receiver Angel Ruiz for a 23-yard touchdown.
Sunrise Mountain scored twice more in the second quarter on 11- and one-yard rushes, the latter of the two coming with one minute left.
Sandwiching those scores were a pair of Mingus touchdowns. Marauders senior running back Martin Soria broke free for a 43-yard score. For the second week in a row the Marauders scored as the first half expired, this time as Zabala connected with Soria for an
18-yarder. It was Soria’s sixth touchdown in four games, and Mingus trailed 27-22 at halftime.
Ruiz scored three touchdowns in the third quarter alone, and the Mustangs scored twice in just over two minutes to open the half to take over.
Ruiz caught a 43-yarder not 15 seconds into the frame, and Freid ran 29 yards for his first of two rushing scores on the following possession, making it 41-22 in the blink of an eye.
“They came out second half and got a couple quick scores on us. Once we get down then we had to abandon the running game a little bit more and once we do that we get into some trouble,” Young said. “It kind of snowballed ... and that’s kind of how they are. They’re a quick-strike team.”
Ruiz grabbed another touchdown pass from Freid before Mingus senior running back Tyler Kelly answered the scoring streak with a 97-yard kickoff return score, though the extra point attempt was blocked. Ruiz caught his third touchdown after, and finished with five receptions for 117 yards and three scores.
Freid rushed 14 yards for his team’s final touchdown in the fourth quarter, and Mingus junior running back Alex Nelson went 67 yards for the hosts’ lone score.
Zabala was 13 for 20 for 175 yards and two touchdowns, while Taylor had a season-high seven receptions for 107 yards and a score. Kelly rushed for 129 yards on 20 carries.
The team’s 12 seniors were honored at the game as well.
“We knew coming into the year we didn’t have a big senior class but some of the guys who have been in the program for four years like Justin Link and Marcos Valenzuela — they’ve improved every year and got better and made big contributions,” Young said. “Of course guys like Tyler Kelly, who is one of the best players in the state who had an outstanding year. As a group they kept us afloat .... They kept plugging away and got us into playoffs.”
Mingus earned the 15 seed in the Conference 4A state playoffs, and will travel to No. 2 Saguaro High School for a 7 p.m. kickoff on Friday, Nov. 3. Having played three of the top five seeds during the regular season, the Marauders will be well prepared for the matchup.
“If there’s a bright side of it, if anything can prepare you for Saguaro it’s playing Higley and Sunrise [Mountain] and Cactus. We played the best teams in 4A so I don’t think they’re going to intimidate us,” Young said. “They might beat the heck out of us but we’re going to have a good game plan for them and we’re going to go down and play them the best we can.”