Nelson led Marauders extend win streak over Flagstaff
Mingus Union sets up de facto region championship game at Prescott in regular season finale
Mingus football Flagstaff Oct. 20
Mingus Union football beat Flagstaff on the road 28-24 on Oct. 19. VVN/James Kelley
AIA Week 10 football scores
4A Grand Canyon
Prescott 41, Lee Williams 6
Bradshaw Mountain 75, Mohave 13
Cactus 32, Coconino 21
Parker 22, Tonopah Valley 6
Cibola 40, Yuma 7
Cesar Chavez 54, Trevor G. Browne 0
Valley Vista 21, Shadow Ridge 13
Williams Field 17, Campo Verde 14
Centennial 48, Raymond S. Kellis 0
Mountain View Marana 38, Desert View 13
Walden Grove 57, Amphitheater 6
Arcadia 48, Poston Butte 20
Buckeye Union 34, Youngker 19
Sahuaro 21, Casa Grande 14
Cibola 40, Yuma 7
Combs 35, Washington 26
Dysart 53, Cortez 0
Desert Edge 48, Deer Valley 0
Estrella Foothills 29, Gila Ridge 22
Apache Junction 53, Glendale 52
Peoria 35, Lake Havasu 0
Marcos de Niza 35, Mesquite 34
St. Mary’s 29, Moon Valley 23
Douglas 48, Palo Verde Magnet 3
Pueblo Magnet 57, Rio Rico 0
Salpointe Catholic 42, Catalina Foothills 14
Saguaro 69, Seton Catholic Prep 0
Greenway 6, Tempe 0
Shadow Mountain 35, Thunderbird 28
Canyon Del Oro 54, Vista Grande 21
Blue Ridge 36, Holbrook 0
Page 64, Chinle 7
Wickenburg 84, Kingman 14
Northwest Christian 70, Kingman Academy 0
River Valley 28, Chino Valley 13
Snowflake 41, Show Low 6
Sedona Red Rock 49, Valley Lutheran 32
St. Johns 42, Benson 14
Pinon 26, Greyhills Academy 20
Alchesay 22, Hopi 0
San Manuel Jr./Sr. 34, Miami 14
North Pointe Prep 30, Antelope Union 0
Phoenix Christian 56, Arizona Lutheran 0
Morenci Jr./Sr. 29, Pima 12
Red Mesa 66, Many Farms 0
Rock Point 34, Valley (Sanders) 28 2OT
Thatcher 42, Round Valley 3
Chandler Prep 54, San Carlos 16
Santa Cruz Valley 81, ASU Preparatory Academy 0
Willcox 28, Tombstone 20
1A state tournament
Arete Prep 46, Duncan 42
Bagdad 58, Ray 0
Joseph City 66, Fort Thomas 58
Hayden 34, Anthem Prep 21
FLAGSTAFF — In football “carrying the load” is a phrase that generally refers to player getting a lot of carries or constituting most of the team’s offense.
With starting senior quarterback Antoine Zabala out on Friday night in Flagstaff, Mingus Union senior running back Alex Nelson carried the load and then some. He ran for 262 yards on 39 carries.
The No. 13 Marauders (7-2, 4-1 Grand Canyon) held on to beat Flagstaff on the road 28-24 at NAU. Mingus Union led 28-10 late but the Eagles scored a couple touchdowns to make it more interesting.
“I knew Flag was going to be tough, you know obviously we’re a little short handed and we have to execute on a high level and do things a little bit differently than we’ve ever done before,” Mingus head coach Robert Ortiz said.
Nelson ran for three touchdowns as he filled in for Zabala at signal caller, taking almost every snap as a Wildcat quarterback and running the ball almost every offensive snap for the Marauders. Other than the occasional end around and the one (incomplete) pass he threw and when the officials made him briefly leave the game when he got a little slow after a play, he rushed for the Marauders every play.
“It was good,” Nelson said about the win. “We overcome a lot of the challenges that were thrown at us with out Antoine. We all just executed what we were practicing in practices and that came out on the field.”
Nelson’s 262 rushing yards were most of Mingus Union’s 315 total yards and the 40 times he ran or passed the ball were four short of the Marauders’ 44 offensive plays.
“It’s difficult at times but when everyone does their job it works very well,” Nelson said about being a Wildcat quarterback all game. “We all executed and we put up points on the board, that’s what we wanted to do, so it worked.”
Senior receiver/running back Nick Bloniarz scored Mingus Union’s other touchdown, an 11-yard run.
Earlier in the season when Zabala had a concussion, sophomore Zach Figy and senior receiver/linebacker Chaz Taylor played quarterback in the loss at Chandler Seton Catholic. On Friday Taylor came into replace Nelson for the couple of plays he was out.
Zabala was suspended after getting ejected in the win over Bradshaw Mountain.
“At one point I was a little struck as to what we should do, what we shouldn’t do and it’s different, you’re out of your element so you go to adapt, so you got to adjust and modify some things and kind of go with the flow,” Ortiz said.
Although they missed a traditional quarterback, the Marauders didn’t change their offense much, moving senior tight end/linebacker Kendrew Streck into the backfield. Last year he played fullback.
“Honestly nothing really changed, our run game’s our run game,” Ortiz said. “I mean we kept about eight run plays. We just basically added another pulling guard with Kendrew and just kinda let Alex do his thing.”
As usual Nelson credited his offensive line for the rushing yardage. One of his touchdowns was a 41-yard run.
“They’re tired and they told me they were tired and I was always thank them, I always give them the appreciation they need,” Nelson said. “They work their tails off all the time and it’s on them, it’s not on me, I just do the running.”
The win along with No. 12 Prescott’s (7-2, 5-0) 41-6 win No. 36 Lee Williams (2-7, 0-5) 41-6 on Friday set up a de facto region championship game. The Marauders travel to Prescott to play the Badgers on Friday at 7 p.m.
“It’s a relief, we want to keep it going though, we have Prescott (this) week for the region championship and we got to send a message and get a high seed for the playoffs,” Nelson said.
The win was Mingus Union’s fifth straight against their northern rivals and the Marauders have beaten the Eagles in 12 of their last 13 games, a span that started when current Ortiz was a sophomore in high school. Ortiz also did well against the late Sinagua, who played their games at the Skydome.
“Honestly I think it’s pretty awesome to kind of keep that tradition, keep that rivalry going,” Ortiz said. “Cottonwood’s that outlier, you know Flag’s got Coco across town, Bradshaw’s got Prescott across town and we’re kind of the outlier you know, so to keep those rivalries and keep that interest among both teams is awesome. One of the things I did tell the kids is: ‘I hadn’t lost in the dome, I didn’t plan on it this week either.’”
Arizona Stadium or Campo Verde
On Friday the AIA announced that the 4A state championship will be at the UA if a Southern Arizona team is involved and if not then at Gilbert Campo Verde.
Although smaller school title games are held at high schools, the 4A games are usually at the Cardinals’ stadium or ASU or UA. Campo Verde will also host the 2A and 3A title games.