Welcome to another weekend of Friday nights at the fights.
Warning, if you have health problems do not watch, as this year's Marauder football team will take fans on a ride of emotions that rivals any roller coaster. After dropping a physical football game to the Bradshaw Mountain football team last week, Mingus tonight takes on another tough rival when the Prescott Badgers come to town.
The Marauders (3-3; 2-1, 2A Grand Region) look to keep their playoff hopes alive with a victory, and then get some help from these same Badgers. Prescott and Bradshaw Mountain will meet in the last game of the season, which could decide who goes to the playoffs and who is at home collecting equipment.
In order for the Marauders to have a shot at the playoffs this season, they will have to win out in sectional games. First things first, they will have to deal with, surprise, another very physical football team.
Badgers coach Michael Gilpin has to be looking at this contest as a get0back game after his team was run on last year to the tune of 354 yards on 64 carries. Granted, last season, he was the offensive coordinator. He remembers getting run on all night on his home field by the Marauders.
The Panthers are 4-2 overall, 2-0 in the region, after coming off a 43-14 home victory against Mohave High School Sept. 30.
The Panthers have averaged 301.0 rushing yards per game and 79.0 passing yards per game this season.
Prescott will feature a three-man rushing attack comprised of fullback Collin Mills, Ryan Greene and David Pearce.
Mills has gained 470 yards on 68 carries with seven TD runs. Greene has gained 507 yards on 79 carries with seven TD runs; Greene is 35-for-82 for 475 yards with 4 TDs and three picks when he throws the football. Pearce, 5-11, 190, he has 565 yards on 68 carries this season four runs.
For Mingus, the Marauders will hope to duplicate the same game they played last year. They must muster up another physical performance and pound the ball on the inside continually until the wheels of Jason Groth and Juan Ruiz come off, and then go over the top to Alejandro Stabreff, or Jordan Pollock, just to give Prescott a different look. Last year, when the Marauders tried to throw the ball, they netted only -2 yards.
In the last game a year ago, the unsung heroes were the offensive and defensive lines which kept the Marauders in the game for all four quarters. They will need the same kind of performance this year. Trevor Galloway, Josh Scalf, Steve McClanahan, Charles Hardy, and others all battled in the trenches, never giving up and when they were knocked down they kept getting back up to fight one more play. With so much riding on the season, they are going to need this kind of effort going forward, with only four games left in their high school careers.
If the Marauders have consecutive fumbles at key junctures of the game as they did last week against the Bears, season over. It will be curtains.
"We are not the kind of football team that we can fumble the ball," Marauders coach Bob Young said.
With the Badgers offense, this game plays in favor of the Marauders' style of play: trench warfare. Teams that spread them out have had success against them, getting them to cover receivers horizontally, and then vertically has proven to be difficult for Mingus this year. There is still a lot of football to be played and their young defensive backs may be giving up some plays this year, but in the seasons to come as they grow together and mature, the little outs that are being caught on them will be pick sixes going the other way.
This is not a game for the Marauders to become cute or to over think. They must stay true to who they are and meet force with force. A surprise onside kick after scoring a touchdown or to start the game, might be the thing to motivate the home crowd and players.
With so much riding on this game, the Marauders need to summon up enough of whatever they have left to win this game. If not, they will be on the outside looking in come playoff time.