The Mingus Union High School football team hosted an afternoon of 7-on-7 football games on June 14, winning all four of their matchups.
Aside from provide a competitive outing for the starters, it gave the Marauders’ second string skill players an opportunity to get more playing time, and prove that they deserve more, against opponents from their own division as well as smaller ones.
“We’re getting better. I think every time out we get a little bit better. I thought offensively we did a really good job of just taking what people gave us,” Mingus head coach Bob Young said. “Defensively we went down to Phoenix yesterday and didn’t do a very good job and we did a lot better job today.”
While every game was won by more than two touchdowns, from a competitive standpoint, the closest game was a 30-12 win against Grand Canyon Region rival Flagstaff High School. It was the only game in which the hosts did not score on their opening possession.
The game was tied at 6 early on, but it was the closest it would be.
Marauder Chaz Taylor’s second touchdown opened a 12-6 lead, and then Alex Nelson rounded things out with two scores of his own. The Marauders defense came away with two interceptions as well, giving up the final touchdown soon before the 25-minute running clock expired.
Against every team, the Marauders took a deep shot down field, sometimes on the first play of the game.
“That’s kind of what we do, we’ve got some speed and we try to utilize it, so we check deep right off the bat,” Young said.
And against every other team aside from Flagstaff, it worked. Quarterback Antoine Zabala hit Nelson down the right sideline against both 3A Chino Valley High School and another Grand Canyon Region opponent Coconino High School.
As the games went on, Taylor took over at quarterback for some series, and opened the scoring against 2A Sedona Red Rock High School when he found Martin Soria. Soria is a transfer from 2016 1A runner up Williams High School.
Taylor and Nelson shared the majority of the touchdown catches, but the defense earned points with its interceptions as well. Against Chino Valley, Marcos Valenzuela picked off the Cougars’ second pass.
After being tipped twice, the Mingus defense pulled down another against Flagstaff. It played physical, man defense throughout, indicative of what is to come in the fall.
On Thursday, June 15, the team left to participate in a 7-on-7 tournament at San Diego State University over the weekend, where the first string players were to see higher levels of competition.
“That’s why we do that, it’s all about challenging these guys,” Young said. “We’re going to play against a lot better competition than in the regular season.”
It is played with a center, quarterback and five other skill players, and only three may be lined up on the line of scrimmage. Play stops after the ball carrier is touched with one hand or if the quarterback does not throw within four seconds, so no helmets or pads are worn.
On every possession the ball starts at the 40-yard line and the offense has four downs to reach the 25, four more to reach the 10, and four more to score.
Touchdowns are worth six points and interceptions three.