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Over the past six years, the Mingus Union High School girls basketball program has struggled to a 12-12 season and five others of seven wins or fewer.

Mingus Union High School senior Lisa Jaimes drives the ball hard towards the basket with the Seligman High School defense trying to steal during a scrimmage held at Camp Verde High School. The scrimmage served as a scoreless warm-up round for the upcoming basketball season.
After two years of waiting, Briana Young, daughter of long-time Marauders head baseball and football coach Bob Young, was hired to change that.

“The first time I got this job, they asked me to be a co-head coach with Art Moncibaez,” recalled Young, the freshman volleyball coach who was hired as the sole replacement for Moncibaez’s son, Dave, at the end of October. “So I did have the job two years ago.

“I said, ‘Time’s on my side. I can wait.’ I figured he’d be gone when his granddaughter graduated. This is not the way I wanted the job, but this is how it happened, so better late than never, I guess.”

The Marauders have not enjoyed a season over .500 since Bob Young’s only season as their coach in 2009, leading them to 23 wins as well as a Final Four appearance in the state tournament.

“He’s coaching the JV and helping me out with varsity,” said Young, who coached the freshman team that year, just two years after graduating from MUHS. “Dad doesn’t seem to know how to say no, either. I’ve been carrying the same playbook around for the last eight years.”

In her first competition Friday, Nov. 20, at Camp Verde High School, Young re-introduced the defensive playbook her father inherited from the previous Marauders coach, Will Rider, to win in 2009.

“There’s some half-court pressing [and] trapping,” she said. “It’s a little more complicated. I like to mix it in with a zone and man-to-man to really confuse a lot of people. So it’s old to me, new to them.”

The results of those preseason scrimmages, although no official scores were kept, were an easy win over Seligman High School and a tie of CVHS, according to Young — “which was pretty good, considering I’ve had the varsity for two weeks,” she said. “It was a confidence booster for the girls.”

For the full story and girls basketball schedule, please see the Wednesday, Nov. 25, issue of the Cottonwood Journal Extra.

By 0.31 of a second, Caleb Furey broke the Mingus Union High School record in the 100-yard breaststroke to go out on a high note for the Marauders at the Division II state swimming championships Saturday, Nov. 7.

The Mingus Union High School swim teams' seasons have come to a close after the Marauders fielded two finalists Nov. 7 at the Division II state championships. Front row, from left, are sophomore Skylar Mohr and senior Emily Dorris; middle row, from left, are freshman Hannah Arwine, freshman Rylie Burke and freshman Dallin Gordon; back row, from left, are senior Caleb Furey, senior Sean Williams and freshman Fletch Fangman.

“Last race of my high school career was my best, so yeah, I think it was pretty big,” said Furey. “Day one, I didn’t perform how I wanted to.”

With fellow senior Sean Williams — who overcame a partially-torn labrum for two top 20 finishes — Furey was the only Marauders swimmer to make it to the finals on the second day of State.

“It was excruciating to swim with,” said Williams, who still finished 12th and 17th in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events, respectively. “I tried to change it up so it wouldn’t hurt as bad, which I guess probably wasn’t a very good idea. It would’ve hurt if I swam normally.”

While Williams “might pursue a different direction” despite letters of interest from 15 colleges, Furey is still keeping his options open for next season, in which he hopes to continue swimming competitively.

Williams also anchored relay teams in the 200-yard freestyle and individual medley that, with the help of freshmen Fletch Fangman and Dallin Gordon, achieved their best times of the season at State, according to Furey.

“Dallin stepped up, and is showing some very fast times,” he said. “With this group of guys, we dropped some time and swam best times in both of the events, as a group.”

Gordon, who is aiming for an individual qualifying time next season in the 500-yard freestyle, felt as late as two weeks ago that he wasn’t going to compete in the postseason.

Gordon stepped into the role vacated by sophomore Gunner Tillemans, who hurt his back in September and couldn’t make it back to compete by the end of the season.

“I didn’t expect so many people there,” added Fangman, whose goal next season is to qualify in the 200-yard individual medley. “It was kind of overwhelming. It was really big.”

The only State girls event to involve Marauders swimmers was the 200-yard freestyle relay. Senior Emily Dorris anchored a four-person team that improved substantially on its qualifying time.

For the full story, please see the Wednesday, Nov. 18, issue of the Cottonwood Journal Extra.

Despite a 3-0 start by the Mingus Rams boys basketball team, without better guard play, Clarkdale-Jerome School won’t be playing host to any Verde Valley League champions at the end of January.

Eighth-grader Amanda Lozania, left, looks to pass to another Cowboy out of pressure applied from a Clarkdale-Jerome School double team. The Mingus Rams went to 2-2 after a victory Thursday, Nov. 19, over Pine Strawberry Elementary School.

Following the Mingus Rams’ second loss in their first three games, 20-16, at Mayer Elementary School on Tuesday, Nov. 17, that has become even more evident to a frustrated girls head coach Lacy Brown, who blamed the loss on “bad passing and not running our defense correctly,” she said. “Defense wins games.”

With seventh-grader Chayce Doerksen full of potential but unseasoned in the post, soccer player Zoey Arwine, despite being a rookie in terms of basketball experience, will need to step up to account for two early ineligible players.

“Zoey can handle the ball really well for never having played before,” Brown said. “She doesn’t know how to shoot outside yet, but she gets to the hoop from the wing.

“So we’re trying to run a two-point-guard offense where both of them are bringing the ball up.”

Arwine had 15 points in a 27-21 win Nov. 12 at Oak Creek School, along with eight points from fellow guard Olivia Gordon — the only eighth-graders on the team besides Aliyah Ramirez.

But the lack of experience was evident Nov. 10, when a full-court press dug the Mingus Rams too big a hole to climb out of in a 32-15 loss of its home opener against Camp Verde Middle School.

Beating Mayer at home Nov. 17, 37-6, to remain undefeated going into the season’s second week, doesn’t mean that boys head coach Rudy Sandoval doesn’t see plenty to work on.

For the full story, photos and schedules, please see the Wednesday, Nov. 18, issue of the Cottonwood Journal Extra.

Safe to say that Big Park Community School wasn’t expecting to lose to Mountain View Preparatory Academy.

Seventh-grader Drew Meyer, of the Mountain View Prep basketball team, lines up a free throw during practice with coach Troy Hoke looking over his shoulder. Mountain View got its first win of the season Tuesday, Nov. 17, with a 30-16 win over Big Park Community School.
But after the first full off-season in boys basketball program history, head coach Troy Hoke stepped up expectations, and the team delivered Tuesday, Nov. 17, with a 30-16 road win in which seven of Hoke’s eight players filled the scorebook.

It was a sharp reversal of the Ocelots’ 35-10 loss at Beaver Creek School in their opener Thursday, Nov. 12.

“Little older, but still learning, still growing,” Hoke said. “Right now, my biggest thing is still their confidence.
“Beaver Creek’s a team I had pegged running for the championship.”

Four of Hoke’s five starters return from a two-win A team last season, including Andrew Petersen, Elian Ruiz, Dalton Zingali and his son, Trevor.

“I still need to teach them the keys of defense,” Hoke said. “They get to stand out a little bit more on their own — they just need to find that identity.

“All these games are just warm-ups leading up to the tournament, where everybody’s 0-0.”

The Verde Valley League tournament was also where the Ocelots won their first game en route to an unexpected fifth place — something Hoke reminds his team can happen again.

For the full story, please see the Wednesday, Nov. 18, issue of the Cottonwood Journal Extra.

Thanks to the Beaver Creek Trails Coalition, Rimrock bikers, hikers and horseback riders will soon have almost two miles of nature to themselves for the first time.

Stan Mish frequently rides trails with son Quinton Franklin, 12, and is an advocate for new trails as vice president of the Beaver Creek Trails Coalition. The Sunset Trails, a new two-mile loop, are underway in Rimrock. They are the first U.S. Forest Service trails in the area for non-motorized use only.
In October, the Sunset Trails — the area’s first non-motorized trails — were adopted east of Rimrock in coordination with the coalition and the U.S. Forest Service.

“They have no designated trails around that community,” said Jennifer Burns, a recreation staff officer with the Coconino National Forest. “So this is a big deal for them. Granted, there’s a lot of social paths, so some of these cattle trails will be pretty radically fixed.”

With the main paths identified, along with trail realignment and parking and signage upgrades planned for a trailhead at the south end of Forestglen Road, which could provide a full USFS trail connector to a vista of Montezuma Well, two miles to the north, as as early as March.

Currently accessed through little more than a hooked piece of barbed wire hanging over a gap in a five-foot-tall fence, almost two miles of loop trails have already been surveyed by a Forest Service archaeologist, Burns said.

“So we can work on those, but we can’t work on anything else until we get the surveys to tell you what’s out there,” she said. “It’s a high expected density of archaeological resources throughout this area. The Forest Service worked with them to make sure these were in good locations.”

Although the coalition shared the desire of the USFS to avoid routing trails through any sensitive archaeological or environmental areas, not much has been found so far in the two miles surveyed, Burns said.

“Then our archaeologist has to do a follow-up and write what is usually a two-page document that is the clearance that says, ‘For this particular project, you are not affecting any archaeology,'" she explained. "'You may go ahead.’”

Stan Mish, vice president of the Beaver Creek Trails Coalition, hopes the entire six-mile network of social trails in the area can be cleared for upgrades by April.

For the full story, please see the Wednesday, Nov. 18, issue of the Camp Verde Journal.

There isn’t a better way to replace a four-time state champion than with a four-time state championship team.

Senior Alex Casillas, top, a 113-pound wrestler at Camp Verde High School, attempts to pin his brother, Ezekiel, a junior, during practice at the Sterrett Wrestling Complex. Casillas is one of three state champions leading the Cowboys into their opening meet Tuesday, Nov. 24, at home against six other schools.
That is the mission the Camp Verde High School wrestling program will begin Tuesday, Nov. 24, at 2:30 p.m. with a seven-team home meet.

As a team, the Cowboys take their first step toward an unprecedented fourth straight state title while attempting to replace the graduated Ryan Allred, who accomplished the feat individually Feb. 13 at the Division IV state wrestling championships.

“That’s in God’s hands,” said Tracy Tudor, who returns two other state champions from last season, his first as CVHS head coach. “The main thing is, to stay together as a brotherhood.

“If we keep it together like a team, we’re going to do all right. If we don’t, and we’re just individuals, we will fall apart. I don’t care how good you are.”

Senior Alex Casillas and junior Hayden Uhler, along with 2012 state title winner Matt Mejia, form what Tudor feels could be a solid core of state champions from 106 to 138 pounds.

“Then we’re a little bit sparse,” Tudor said. “We’ve still got veterans, but in the middle, it’s just a little bit weak. We’re pretty lean this year as far as numbers [go].”

So to overcome challengers such as Benson, St. John’s, Round Valley, Willcox and Nov. 24 opponents Morenci and Window Rock high schools, the Cowboys need their full complement of wrestlers.

“Window Rock’s got a full team,” he said. “They’ve usually got two to three good kids. You never know.”

Academic ineligibility has already chipped away at those hopes, however, as poor grades have sidelined as many as five CVHS wrestlers for the opener.

“We’re not full-strength,” Tudor said. “Our quality this year is probably better than last year. We’ve got kids, but we’re not deep.”

Tudor is not even sure yet of the status of the 113-pound Casillas and 138-pound Mejia for the seven-team home meet — nor of junior West Phillips, the new wrestler at 106 pounds with sophomore Skyler Pike electing, for personal reasons, to take the season off.

For the full story, schedule and more photos, please see the Wednesday, Nov. 18, issue of the Camp Verde Journal.

Zach Harrison, 11, threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more as the Cottonwood Colts won their first Northern Arizona Youth Football championship with a 31-13 victory over Wickenburg.

The Cottonwood Colts celebrate Saturday, Nov. 7, after their 31-13 win over Wickenburg for the Northern Arizona Youth Football championship in the Minors division. The Colts finished their season with one loss.
The Colts finished the year with just one loss Saturday, Nov. 7, at Mingus Union High School after upending the Chino Valley Minors team on the road in the first round of the playoffs.

“It really didn’t matter to us — between the players and the coaches, we knew which team was the No. 1 team,” said second-year head coach Guillermo Briseno, who will return another 16 players next season. “We only had four or five kids not returning from last year, and they’re all coached the same and are on the same level.”

One of those second-year players is his 11-year-old son, Jase, who got the Colts on the scoreboard first with an 18-yard rush down the middle of the Wickenburg defense. It was set up by Harrison’s 15-yard pass to Connor Goff, 10, who also had an interception to help the Colts’ defense.

“I didn’t coach Zach his first year, but they’re big pieces in the offense,” Briseno said. “It’s a team effort, but it starts with the line.

“If the line blocks, then the quarterback, running backs and receivers can get the touchdown.”

First-year player Freddy Martinez, 11, made his last game with the Colts count with a touchdown reception to begin the second half.

After that, it was all over but the trophy ceremony for Briseno and assistant coaches Rob Harrison, Javier Anguiano, Fernando Anguiano, Derick Fringer and Casey Goff.

“I’ve had the same coaching staff for five years now,” he said. “Hopefully, we can repeat next year, because I have a lot of kids back.”

The Colts came back from a 12-0 deficit late in the first half at Chino Valley with eight points, shutting out the Cougars in the second half as they scored two more touchdowns in the third quarter.

While one title game was more suspenseful than the other, Black Hills Auto and Mike’s 12 Pack ultimately enjoyed their men’s fall city softball league championships within five days of each other at Riverfront Park.

Black Hills Auto won the fall softball B League championship, presented by the Cottonwood Parks and Recreation department. Black Hills Auto won a 3-2 game over the Reapers who came in second. Mike’s 12 Pack won the A league championship.
Black Hills won its first title of the fall softball league, presented by the Cottonwood Parks and Recreation department, with a 3-2 victory Oct. 28 over the Reapers, who had lost to Black Hills two days earlier in the B league semifinals.

The Reapers earned a shot in the championship of the six-team tournament Oct. 28 with a 7-4 win over Roto Rooter in the consolation bracket.

They had shut out the Dirty Rats, 18-0, in the tournament first round Oct. 19.

The Dirty Rats would be eliminated a week later, failing to score a run in the postseason as Roto Rooter shut them out, 7-0.

Black Hills edged Roto Rooter, 6-5, in the first round of the B league tournament.

Mike’s came out of the A league consolation bracket to follow up that win with a far more relaxed 15-4 victory Nov. 2 over HDH, sponsored by Angie’s House.

“We beat HDH twice,” said Tarrin Walz, head coach of Mike’s 12 Pack. “They were big wins.”

Indeed they were, as Mike’s had just handled HDH, 12-6, to force an extra game in the double-elimination tournament.

The result turned the tables on HDH, which had edged Mike’s, 10-7, in the Oct. 28 semifinals to send Walz’s team into the consolation bracket. Mike’s would blow out Diablo, 19-1, to return to the championship Nov. 2.

Earlier that evening, Diablo had defeated Signs 928, 9-2, after downing El Patio 10-4 in the first round of the five-team double-elimination tournament.

The coed league title games will take place Thursday, Nov. 12, as undefeated Lazerlyte and Red Rock Collision battle for the A League championship.

For the full story, more photos and coed city softball championship schedule, please see the Wednesday, Nov. 11, issue of the Cottonwood Journal Extra.