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Allyson Arellano had a busy summer, now that her sister is following in her footsteps.

The Mingus Union High School junior is practicing for the beginning of competition in her fall cross-country season Monday, Sept. 7, less than three months after bringing home gold medals in three events at the Arizona Junior Olympics and the USA Track and Field state championships.

“I really want to break 18 [minutes] in the 5K,” she said. “More long-distance, [but] I can run middle-distance, too.”

Arellano beat all other 15- to 16-year-old girls in the 800-, 1,500- and 3,000-meter runs at both meets. She was named USATF Athlete of the Week on May 12 for her state and regional cross-country championships and All-American honors at USATF nationals in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Not to be outdone, her older sister Karen took home a silver and a bronze medal, respectively, from the 800- and 3,000-meter runs in the 17- and 18-year-old girls division at Junior Olympics after winning the 1,500 and the 3,000 two weeks earlier at State.

“I feel like I’m on track with most runners that are my age,” she said. “I would like to break five minutes for the 1,500[-meter] this coming track season.”

For the full story and Aftershock fall schedule, please see the Wednesday, Aug. 26, issue of the Cottonwood Journal Extra.

Bob Young has been coaching a long time, and he’s got it down.

Senior Tristan Clark breaks through the line and into the secondary during Mingus Union High School’s 42-15 season-opening win Friday, Aug. 21, against visiting Cactus Shadows High School at Bright Field. Clark carried the football eight times for 106 yards and a touchdown.
Prior to Mingus Union High School’s season opener against visiting Cactus Shadows High School, he talked up the opponent, noting that the Falcons had plenty of experience and a size advantage in the trenches.

Then, after his Marauders flattened the Falcons, 42-15, on Aug. 21, he downplayed his team’s apparent dominance.

“We’ll find a lot of things we need to work on,” he said with a smile, referring to studying game film this week. “We had special teams breakdowns and pass protection was a weakness.”

However, the coach was impressed — though not surprised — by the performance of Jordan Upham.

The senior quarterback ran for 185 yards on 14 carries and scored three touchdowns. He also completed four of six passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns.

“He’s that kind of guy,” Young said. “Our offense is tailored around him.”

It didn’t take long for Upham  to impact the game. On his second play from scrimmage, Upham ran an option right, kept the ball and broke loose for a 75-yard touchdown run.

The extra point was blocked, but the Marauders had a 6-0 lead just 43 seconds into the game.

During the preseason, Young said his defense looked sharp. It carried over into the game, with five turnovers forced — three fumble recoveries and two interceptions — and six sacks.

After Upham’s opening score, the Falcons got good field position on the kickoff, then advanced on a defensive holding penalty. However, Mingus stopped them and forced a 58-yard field goal attempt that came up well short.

The next drive, in a classic bend-but-don’t-break series, the defense allowed the visitors to drive to the Mingus 31, but junior Aizik Romero stripped the ball and the Marauders took over on the 27.

The offense spread the ball around on the ensuing drive. Senior Anthony Accurso caught a 21-yard pass; senior Alec Phyfer ran for five yards, followed by a 12-yard run by Upham. Then, senior Pete Kelly carried the ball eight yards to the Falcons’ 19-yard line, which set up the Marauders second touchdown, a run by senior Tristan Clark — a “great perimeter guy,” Young said.

Clark would finish the night with 106 yards on eight carries. The Marauders ran for almost 400 yards and averaged over eight yards per carry overall.

For the full story, more photos and sectional standings, please see the Wednesday, Aug. 26, issue of the Cottonwood Journal Extra.

Camp Verde Middle School football could use a return to the old days.

Assistant coach Jeremiah Littlepage, kneeling in the front, plays center to help the Camp Verde Middle School football team read his actions as well as his commands. The Cowboys, under head coach Brian Pelfrey, are practicing their first full week in helmets and shoulder pads in preparation for their first game Tuesday, Sept. 8.
That is the hope of 12th-year head coach Brian Pelfrey, whose Cowboys are finishing their first week of practices in full helmets and pads in preparation for their opening game Tuesday, Sept. 8, at Fountain Hills Middle School.

“It’s been a couple of years since we’ve won a game,” said Pelfrey, a sixth-grade science teacher at CVMS. “It’s not like the old days, where we could go out with 20 Camp Verde kids and march over 40 others.”

One of those players this fall looks to be eighth-grader Bailey Smith, an offensive lineman whose stepfather, Jeremiah Littlepage, is currently Pelfrey’s only assistant coach over a seven-game fall slate for the Cowboys.

Smith, who Pelfrey is looking at playing center as he decides which of a handful of quarterbacks is going to be his starter, is one of the only Cowboys to have played with CVMS since sixth grade. He was also the only player to accompany the Camp Verde High School football team to its California team camp the last week of July.

“I have to find a center who can snap the ball,” he said. “Long snapper will also be a search process. I’ve got a lot of kids out who played youth football a couple of years ago but are limited in what they can do because of their size and the number of bodies on the team.”

One of the primary responsibilities of whoever ultimately plays quarterback for the Cowboys will be getting the ball to eighth-grader Timmy Martin in space.

“Timmy tried his best and showed a little bit of potential at wideout for us last year,” Pelfrey said. “We may have to put him in different spots depending on the sets we run.”

Of the 26 players on the team, another whom Pelfrey could ask to try new things this fall, like play fullback, is defensive lineman Matt Munger — “our meanest guy” at a slight 94 pounds, Pelfrey said.

For the full story and schedule, please see the Wednesday, Aug. 26, issue of the Camp Verde Journal.

sophomore quarterback payton sarkesian scrambles to elude the rush of Sedona Red Rock High School senior Tim Hall and junior Danny Avelar, from right, during Camp Verde High School’s 20-13 opening road loss Friday, Aug. 21. Sarkesian kept the ball eight times, gaining 72 yards on the ground in the loss.

In his first high school contact game, Camp Verde High School senior Jaysen Leonard ran for two touchdowns but the Cowboys couldn’t stop Sedona Red Rock High School from scoring the go-ahead touchdown with 1:16 to play to defeat the Cowboys, 20-13.

Sophomore quarterback Payton Sarkesian scrambles to elude the rush of Sedona Red Rock High School senior Tim Hall and junior Danny Avelar, from right, during Camp Verde High School’s 20-13 opening road loss Friday, Aug. 21. Sarkesian kept the ball eight times, gaining 72 yards on the ground in the loss.
Leonard carried the ball nine times for 96 yards and two touchdowns — the second his longest run of the night, which helped put CVHS ahead, 13-12, with 4:41 to play after he slipped around left end 54 yards down the sidelines.

“I felt like I was on top of the world,” he said after the Cowboys’ opener Friday, Aug. 21, at SRRHS. “It felt good getting in the end zone.”

Leonard, who had previously only played flag football, was also the leading receiver on the night for the Cowboys with 58 yards on four catches.

He was held back, however, from playing both ways and joining his teammates on defense due to a bruised hip, head coach Steve Darby said.

“Wait [un]til he gets full strength,” he said. “For having never played football before, he’s doing a great job, and as long as he stays healthy, he’ll get better.”

Leonard’s first touchdown came on a similar play with 48 seconds to go in the first quarter. Senior kicker Kyle Little’s extra point gave CVHS its first lead, 7-6.

But the very next drive, 2:40 later, senior Justice Keane’s four-yard run got the Scorpions the lead back, 12-7.

The two teams failed to score for virtually the next 30 minutes of a back-and-forth night in which both units struggled with penalties — and fellow senior Trevor Heyer moved back to his old wide receiver position after throwing two first-quarter interceptions as starting quarterback.

For the full story and sectional standings, please see the Wednesday, Aug. 26, issue of the Camp Verde Journal.

The morning after the cheers die down from the Mingus Union High School opener, fall’s opening weekend continues with three youth football games at Cottonwood Middle School.

The Cottonwood Wildcats run plays to prepare for the upcoming High Desert Youth Football season. The team is the oldest one in the Cottonwood-based youth football league, with its first game Saturday, Aug. 29, at 2 p.m. against Prescott.
Under new league president Danica Briseno, 155 players ages 6 to 14 years old have made this the biggest year ever for High Desert Youth Football.

“These are extraordinary numbers we were a little unprepared for,” said Briseno, who made the leap into her new position from cheerleading coordinator. “Last season, we had to actually close a team. We kept registration open a week longer than we normally do.”

Experimentations in new ways to register, such as on Facebook, also helped boost the numbers, along with booths at local restaurants, supermarkets, Dog Days in Clarkdale and Fourth of July.

There has also been word of mouth from a new flag football league, started by High Desert governing board members Becky Allred, Pete Kelly and Jose Zabala.

“We have an excellent board that has been advertising since the beginning of June,” Briseno said. “We had a lot of kids out there for our youth camp before the first week of school, but when they go to school they tell their friends they’re playing football, It’s wonderful ... absolutely exhilarating.”

Another 29 cheerleaders will rouse the fans of the Cottonwood Wildcats in their 2 p.m. opener Saturday, Aug. 29, at Cottonwood Middle School, following two games between four of the Minors and Mighty Mites teams which begin at 10 a.m.

Nick Dumford, a key to the Wildcats' season, takes the snap and opts for a running play.

For the full story and all youth football schedules, please see the Wednesday, Aug. 19, issue of the Cottonwood Journal Extra.

While defense is a source of confidence for Mingus Union High School heading into its opener Friday, Aug. 21, at home against Cactus Shadows High School, the offensive line needs to step up, head coach Bob Young said.

Senior quarterback Jordan Upham has been executing a strong running attack but didn’t receive enough protection from his line to have time to pass, Young said.

“That’s the big thing right now — mainly, giving the quarterback time to throw,” he said. “Our offensive line did a nice job run blocking, but pass pro[tection], we had some breakdowns.”

Junior Stephen McClanahan accepted his share of responsibility in not giving Upham at least three seconds to throw.

“I was one of those guys,” he said. “I need to work on my pass protection, definitely.”

Senior line mate Nathan Jones believes success there is a simple matter of mechanics.

“We’ve just been working really hard on pass-block technique,” he said. “We work really well together as a line, have really good unity.”

The Marauders’ defense gave up no touchdowns Wednesday, Aug. 12, in 60 scrimmage plays against Alhambra, Copper Canyon and Sandra Day O’Connor high schools.

“Our first and second defense looked sharp,” Young said. “That was encouraging.”

He was also heartened by what senior slotback Tristan Clark and junior tight end Trevor Galloway showed they were capable of doing on pass plays.

“If [defenses] are crowding the box with eight or nine guys, we’ve got to be able to throw the ball a little bit,” he said. “Our offense is dictated on taking what defenses give us.”

After watching film on the Falcons, who, along with MUHS, were reclassified by the Arizona Interscholastic Association from Division II to III, Young knows his team will need to respond to a size disadvantage.

“They’re going to be bigger than us on the line of scrimmage,” he said. “They’ve got a lot of guys coming back — seven on offense and, I think, seven on defense.”

Photos of the Mingus Union High School varsity football team in preparation for its home opener Friday, Aug. 21, against Cactus Shadows High School were not available to the Cottonwood Journal Extra. Photographer Zack Garcia could not take pictures of practice Monday, Aug. 17, as he had been ejected from campus earlier by Athletic Director Allen Mitchell in violation of First Amendment protections of the media and the public's right to know.

A Mingus Union High School long-distance runner was transported by paramedics Monday, Aug. 17, to the emergency room at Verde Valley Medical Center with a case of heat exhaustion.

On Monday afternoon, Aug. 17, during track and field practice, a Mingus Union High School long-distance runner suffered heat exhaustion, according to school officials. Coaches called an ambulance, and the girl was hooked up to oxygen before being taken to Verde Valley Medical Center for treatment.
“I just know that she ran a little bit, not too much,” said new cross-country head coach Tiffany Goettl, who was at practice with the runner. “She felt sick and dizzy and sat down. The next thing we knew, they took her up to the ice bath.

“She was, like, hyperventilating. I don’t know if she was scared or what, but she had a hard time getting her breathing under control.”

So at about 5 p.m., the Marauders cross-country runner was removed from a practice at which temperatures reached close to 105 degrees, a source close to the situation said.

The source classified the injury as not purely related to the heat but rather heat exhaustion, which is brought on by multiple factors such as not having eaten much before practice.

“That makes sense,” Goettl said. “As coaches, we harp on that with the kids constantly. They need to watch that — it’s so crucial.”

Medical precautions were taken upon initial treatment, but while the runner was not suffering from a purely athletic injury such as heatstroke, it could have played a role in the runner’s incapacitation, the source added.

“If it was related to food, water and sleep, it’s a good example for the other kids,” Goettl said. “I’m not a doctor, but she’s not going to run for a couple days.”

The runner was treated in the emergency room at VVMC and released after an hour, Goettl said. She is expected to return to practice Thursday, Aug. 20.

For the full story, please see the Wednesday, Aug. 19, issue of the Cottonwood Journal Extra.

The rivalry gets real Friday, Aug. 21.

Senior Chandler Crittenden catches a pass for Camp Verde High School before getting tackled during the Cowboys' scrimmage against visiting Payson High School.
“It is a cross-valley rivalry and we are playing for bragging rights,” Camp Verde High School head football coach Steve Darby said, prior to the 7 p.m. season opener at Sedona Red Rock High School. “We are hoping for a clean game, good sportsmanship from our kids and no major injuries.”

Revenge for last season’s 22-point loss at Sedona Red Rock High School wouldn’t hurt.

The thought remained fresh in the minds of 36 Camp Verde High School players even before its Friday, Aug. 14, scrimmage against Payson High School.

“I hear about Sedona every day,” Darby said. “So I know they’re thinking about them.”

That’s why the score of the Aug. 14 matchup with the Longhorns didn’t really concern Darby as much as timing of individual plays, offensive and defensive rhythm, avoidance of penalties and areas in which the Cowboys could improve prior to both teams’ season opener.

For the full story, season schedule and more photos, please see the Wednesday, Aug. 19, issue of the Camp Verde Journal.