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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.

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.

In May, the first three Camp Verde club softball players who have been with Juggernaut since its inception five years ago graduate high school.

Rachel Stockseth, an infielder for the Camp Verde club softball team Juggernaut, the ball hard and drives it into the dirt. Juggernaut went 2-2 in the Cottonwood Classic in late October.

“We went all over in tournaments, and we had a group of young girls that were competitive,” recalled head coach Henry Smith, whose daughter Taya, along with infielders Paige Church and Dusty Dowdle, are Camp Verde High School seniors who helped form Juggernaut with him in 2010. “After talking with parents, we all decided we should do it, so I quit playing and started coaching.”

Before Smith shut down competition for the holidays, Camp Verde’s club softball team finished 2-2 against older, more experienced teams Oct. 24 and 25 at an Amateur Softball Association fast-pitch tournament in Cottonwood.

“I’m hoping to get the older players involved who practice with us but never get a chance to play,” Smith said. “We give them the chance to play the positions they feel comfortable with. Every one of their parents involved are really supportive.”

Smith, in his fifth year as Juggernaut head coach who also enters his third season as CVHS softball coach, was led not just by his daughter but a handful of other players over 14 years old who helped defeat two 16U teams at Riverfront Park.

“It’s neat they’re willing to travel just to get innings,” said Smith, who plans to continue practice three days a week through the end of the year. “A lot of these teams we play, they’re playing every week or every other weekend. The fact that we were all comfortable playing up this tournament and played with them so well goes to show they listen and really are coachable.”

Smith believes Nieja Garner, a senior at South Verde High School, and Camp Verde High School junior Kayla Hackett will also join Taya Smith among the older leaders of the club by Juggernaut’s next tournament in Peoria in January — if not sooner, during practice Tuesdays through Thursdays.

“At that point, we should be able to get everybody together for the beginning of the year,” Smith said. “Get our high school team back together, get them familiar with playing each other again and get on track with a state championship run.”

New to that team will be freshman shortstop Rachel Stockseth, who will compete for starts as well as innings, Smith said.

“Rachel is somebody we’re really looking at and excited for,” Smith said. “Her speed will help her contend with Kayla Hackett for the starting shortstop position.”

For the full story and more photos, please see the Wednesday, Nov. 11, issue of the Camp Verde Journal.

This issue of The Camp Verde Journal, Cottonwood Journal Extra and Sedona Red Rock News begins a new era of sports I think you’ll enjoy: Color.

George Werner
Thanks to Jones Ford Verde Valley and other supportive sponsors, Camp Verde, Cottonwood and Sedona sports will be expanded to two pages of coverage, with the first page featuring photos and other enhancements in color every Wednesday.

This marks the first commitment of any local newspaper to a regular color sports section every week. I think you’ll agree it’s an upgrade not only well deserved, but long overdue as well.

For the first time, you’ll be able to see the amazing work of our Sedona photographer, Jordan Reece, and Camp Verde photographer Zack Garcia.

You’ll be able to see, preserved for all time, the greatest moments of our coverage of indoor and outdoor athletic and recreational events as we saw it.

No other local media can offer this level of coverage, every week. The best part: You can be a part of it.

We want your color photos. The pictures must meet certain requirements for submission. If you think you have a photo that meets that bar, you can also Tweet the pic to @sedonanews. Make sure you follow us first.

If you live in Cottonwood, Cornville, Clarkdale or Jerome, send in your pictures for consideration in the Wednesday Journal Extra by Tuesday at 5 p.m. Deadlines for Camp Verde and Sedona submissions remain the same: Monday at
9 a.m. for Journal and Tuesday at 9 a.m. for the NEWS

For the full column, please see the Wednesday, Nov. 4, issues of the Camp Verde Journal and Cottonwood Journal Extra.

A bee invasion is never a good omen, especially during a volleyball game.

The Mingus Rams of Clarkdale-Jerome School await the incoming serve at the Verde Valley League Volleyball Tournament on Friday, Oct. 23.
Swarms of bees closed the front entrance to the Clarkdale-Jerome School gymnasium Saturday, Oct. 24.

Nevertheless, they continued to infiltrate it until officials in the Verde Valley League volleyball tournament championship were kicking their corpses off the court.

The buzz wasn’t good for the host Mingus Rams either, who fell four points short of repeating their league title in a tiebreaker with Big Park Community School — 17-25, 25-16, 11-15.

“We played not to lose instead of win,” said Lynda Chavez, Clarkdale’s athletic director and head volleyball coach. “Our leaders out there kind of had a glazed look. They were worried about making mistakes.”

The win ended the Coyotes’ season, as they will not be returning to Clarkdale to compete Saturday, Oct. 31, in the Small Schools State Volleyball Tournament.

West Sedona School, the third-place team, will instead play with Clarkdale and four other teams for the chance to win State. Big Park downed the Wildcats in straight sets, 25-21 and 25-20, to advance to the championship.

Clarkdale advanced to the championship with a 15-1 tiebreaker to defeat Camp Verde Middle School earlier on Oct. 24. The Mingus Rams had opened the tournament Friday, Oct. 23, with a win in straight sets over Beaver Creek School, 25-15, 25-10.

The strong service game of Olivia Gordon, who would be named Most Valuable Setter of the tournament, got Clarkdale off to a 4-1 start in the championship. But a defensive miscommunication between her and fellow eighth-grader Felicia Bueno let a volley drop and gave Big Park the Game 1 lead back, 5-4.

Later, a Bueno kill would return the lead to Clarkdale, 14-10. Another miscommunication, though — this time in the back row — allowed Big Park to take the lead for good in the midst of an 8-0 run by the Coyotes.

For the full story, please see the Wednesday, Oct. 28, issue of the Cottonwood Journal Extra.

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