Sat, Feb. 22

Mingus football bounces back in first home 7-on-7 games

Mingus senior Nick Bloniarz catches a touchdown pass during the Marauders’ 7-on-7 win over Payson on Wednesday at home. VVN/James Kelley

Mingus senior Nick Bloniarz catches a touchdown pass during the Marauders’ 7-on-7 win over Payson on Wednesday at home. VVN/James Kelley

Mingus Union football rebounded in its second 7-on-7 action of the summer.

On Wednesday the Marauders hosted Payson, Flagstaff, Prescott, Snowflake and Chino Valley went 5-1, losing to Snowflake but later avenging the defeat in the nightcap.

“Overall I thought we did pretty good,” Mingus head coach Robert Ortiz said. “We started a little bit slow, I thought we played down to some of the competition, we didn’t really come out the way that we should’ve come out. We got better as the day went on, we lost one early on to Snowflake, they were kind enough to play us again, which you could tell by that game being the last one, the kids were a little more into it, knew their assignments, flying around, making plays. They learned a lot, they progressed as the day went on and that’s pretty much all I ask for.”

Mingus Union opened with a narrow win over Chino Valley, then beat Payson, before falling to Snowflake. Then they defeated Flagstaff, Prescott and Snowflake to wrap up the evening.

“Started off a little slow, that’s kind of our problem right now, we started off a little a slow, but towards the end we escalated, we stepped stuff up, this was probably the best Mingus team I’ve seen come around in a long time, towards the end, it was really exciting to watch,” Mingus senior quarterback Antoine Zabala said.

Ortiz and senior Kendrew Streck the Marauders stepped their game up once they faced Flagstaff and Prescott.

“We started off a little slow, but still good, you know? But at the end we all just came together and I think we did really good, our team bonded a lot (Wednesday) so I’m happy about it,” Streck said. “When we got into our region games, they obviously get a lot more intense, it brought our intensity level up and we just really started connecting as a team and the hype was from everyone, we were all playing as one.”

Ortiz said the Marauders lost their first Snowflake game due to a lack of execution but won the second after they did what they were supposed to do.

He thought the better play against their region rivals and settling in was the reason they got better.

“I think knowing that they’re going to see them in a couple months kinda helps, with that competitiveness, that what they do (Wednesday) is hopefully making a statement later on, but just being able to go out and do, what we’re teaching them to do and executing their assignments,” Ortiz said.

The Marauders next host 7-on-7 games on Wednesday at 6 p.m. and then on June 27 6 p.m.

Wednesday’s 7-on-7 was Mingus Union’s second of the summer. They started last week at ASU where they went 0-4.

Zabala said they should have won three of those games, but with a new coach, new offense and new system, it was a stepping-stone.

Ortiz started just before the ASU camp. The Marauders only had three practices before the Tempe trip.

Ortiz said they made a lot less mistakes at home.

“In all honesty, we were able to compete there, that was more so a lack of communication (laughs),” Ortiz said. “It looked like their first day and we had only had three practices in but that’s not an excuse, it’s just a learning curve, with a new offense and a new defense, it comes with the territory. There was a lot more thinking and a lot less football going on at that moment in time, but (Wednesday) you could tell that there was a little less thinking and a little more football and that’s the overall goal, that they don’t think as much and they’re just executing off of habit.”

Year one of the Ortiz era begins

The Marauders host their youth camp July 16 to 18. Then on Aug. 8 they have a 4-way scrimmage and they open Ortiz’s inaugural season on Aug. 17 when they host San Tan Valley Combs.

Streck said Ortiz is pretty cool and has words of the day to help teach the Marauders, like coachable.

“Coach Ortiz is a ball of energy, he goes a million miles an hour and I think that’s what we need right now,” Zabala said. “He goes 100 miles to the wall and we couldn’t ask for anything more and we follow in his lead.”

When asked who’s impressed him so far, Ortiz said “really everyone” but especially the guys who have been there on a consistent basis.

“Just the whole team really,” Ortiz said. “There hasn’t been any one person. Kendrew made a couple good grabs (Wednesday) which is kind of expected but overall the entire group of guys, they’re all learning, they’re all still in reps, which is a good thing.”

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