Momentum was the biggest adversary of Mingus football Friday night, resulting in a 28-14 loss by the closing whistle in a game that was still knotted up at 14 late in the third quarter.
Mingus coach Bob Young tried to keep Tolleson's running game in check, but the Wolverine’s Dante Gilmore and Marcus Thomas combined for 349 yards and scored four TDs in the game.
Eleventh-ranked Mingus had an uphill climb in their season opener against seventh-ranked Tolleson in a Class 4A non-region game. Mingus coach Bob Young called Tolleson “one of the best teams we’ll see in the regular season.”
It was an unhappy sense of déjà vu for Mingus Union football players and coaches, with vivid memories of the 2001 season opener, when Mingus suffered a frustrating defeat at the hands of the Wolverines in front of its home crowd.
A respectable effort by Mingus on Friday night was displayed in their 11-play, 65-yard drive capped on a 4-yard run by Justin Wombacher. Another quick TD run by Wombacher just after halftime brought the score even, but momentum soon swung away from them.
The Marauders visited Tolleson to open the 2002 campaign. A road trip south for Mingus was one of the best 4A games of the week. Tolleson also beat Nogales 63-14 last Friday.
Tolleson’s top returner is Thomas, who galloped for more than 2,000 yards last season. He previously rushed for 128 yards against the Marauders, but that was one of his lowest outputs. Young said “He is definitely their go-to guy.”
Mingus, coming off a 7-4 season and region championship, tried to counter with a solid running game of its own.
Chris Rice was phenomenal in the preseason, rushing for long-yardage TDs in preseason scrimmages as well as scoring from the defensive end and special teams.
Mingus has nearly its entire offensive and defensive lines returning. Offensive linemen like Mike Ferguson, Luke Shillington, Steve Kelling and John Mattison paved big holes for Marauder runners in a scrimmage against Cactus.
The Tolleson game kicked off a pretty tough early-season schedule for the Marauders. After the Wolverines looms Sunrise Mountain, predicted by many as the front-runner in the Wells Fargo Region.
The Marauders also play Sunnyslope and Prescott – two playoff teams from 2001 – before moving on to Grand Canyon Region foes like Coconino, Flagstaff, Sinagua, Chinle and Page.
Their next game is an away contest against Sunrise Mountain on Friday.