|Written by Brian Bergner Jr.|
|Friday, 01 July 2011 00:00|
The Mingus Union High School football team traveled to Sedona this past weekend to participate in a seven-on-seven football tournament, going 3-3.
A few days before the tournament, Mingus players were told longtime assistant coach and current interim Head Coach Neil Dixon would take the job and be the full-time head man in charge for the 2011 season.
On June 22, Mingus Athletic Director Mike Boysen officially announced the hire, stating he was pleased with Dixon and the job he’s done over the last 25-plus years as an assistant.
The seven-on-seven tournament Saturday, June 25, provided the first games for Dixon as the permanent head coach and he said the Marauders responded well.
“I’ve been doing all the summer stuff anyway, since I was the interim coach, and my response as an interim coach is probably the same as a head coach. I thought the boys played well and worked hard,” Dixon said after being asked how the team looked Saturday.
In the morning pool play games at Sedona Red Rock High School, Mingus defeated Chino Valley High School to start things off, 26-14. The Marauders turned around to defeat rival Camp Verde High School in game two, 31-21, to start 2-0 on the day.
The Marauders are scheduled to play Camp Verde in the last game of the season this fall, making for an interesting contest between the two football programs.
Mingus and Camp Verde haven’t locked horns against one another since 1988, when the Marauders won 41-7. Mingus is 7-0 against the Cowboys, with the first meeting coming in 1970 when the Marauders won, 20-8.
In game three Saturday, Mingus faced off against Snowflake High School, losing 26-25. Snowflake went 7-0 on the day, winning the tournament championship over Prescott High School, 39-14.
In game four, the Marauders lost to Prescott, 12-7. Former longtime Mingus Head Coach Bob Young stood on the Prescott sidelines against Mingus on Saturday, having tendered his resignation in May and taking the Badgers job.
After finishing the morning pool play games with a 2-2 record, Mingus earned the No. 4 seed after tieing Sedona and Camp Verde, which were each 2-2 as well. Mingus received the No. 4 seed in a tiebreaker, beating out Sedona  by a point in total points scored with 89.
Mingus went on to defeat Coconino High School in the first round of tournament play, 33-7, but ran into a buzz saw in Snowflake in the semifinals, 46-26.
“I told the kids before that today was a great opportunity for them to show us what they had,” Dixon said. “We had a few key guys missing so a lot of younger players got playing time which was good for them.”
Dixon said he was most impressed with senior Evan McFarland, who until this summer was known mostly for his catching ability behind the plate for the Marauders.
As for junior quarterback Luke Simmons, he started off strong, struggled in the middle, then finished strong, according to Dixon.
“Luke’s [Simmons] a young guy, and he struggled a bit in the middle of the day but toward the end he picked it up. We’ve got some young quarterbacks, but this will help them grow,” Dixon said.
Mingus still has a few seven-on-seven tournaments remaining this summer and will continue to hit the weight room before starting training camp Monday, Aug. 1.
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