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Wed, June 26

Mingus football faces Prescott for Grand Canyon title

Mingus senior Kendrew Streck (left) and sophomore Zach Figy (right) bring down a Flagstaff ball carrier last week on the road. The Marauders play at Prescott on Friday for the region championship. VVN/James Kelley

Mingus senior Kendrew Streck (left) and sophomore Zach Figy (right) bring down a Flagstaff ball carrier last week on the road. The Marauders play at Prescott on Friday for the region championship. VVN/James Kelley

Mingus Union football travels south for the de facto Grand Canyon Region championship game and for what may be a must win contest.

No. 12 Mingus Union (7-2, 4-1 Grand Canyon) plays at No. 11 Prescott (7-2, 5-0) on Friday night at 7 p.m.

“I think it’s pretty cool, you know there’s always been that expectation here that Mingus is always being competitive and that they’ve always been one of the front runners for the division, it always seems to come down to the end of the year and so I think it’s pretty cool to for our kids, I know that that’s an expectation of theirs being that they won it last year but they want it a little more this year,” Mingus head coach Robert Ortiz said.

The Marauders have won four in a row, as have the Badgers. Mingus Union has beaten Prescott three consecutive times.

“Honestly it’s pretty cool, as a high school athlete you wouldn’t ask for anything better than to control your own destiny,” Mingus senior quarterback Antoine Zabala said. “Right now it’s ours for taking, I think we’re going to win and we’re going to succeed but our whole team is really excited about his opportunity.”

Last year Mingus Union beat the Badgers 38-6 on the road. They finished tied at 5-1 in region play but Mingus Union won the tiebreaker

After moving up to 12th in this week’s rankings, the Marauders are in weird spot, as they might be able to reach a top eight seed and host a playoff game but they could also see their season end with a loss on Friday.

This year a team may need to finish in the top 14 to make the state tournament as the champions of the Southwest and Black Canyon regions could be bid stealers. Going into this week’s games, No. 19 Goodyear Estrella Foothills and No. 23 Apache Junction lead those regions.

“It seems like for whatever reason, the Grand Canyon Region being as good as it was this year, that probably only two of us will get in and that’s Bradshaw and the region champ,” Ortiz said. “I’ve told our kids all week is ‘win and you’re in, win and you’re region champs and you’re in, lose and you go home,’” Ortiz said.

Last year Prescott finished No. 16 in the final regular season rankings, ahead of two region champions but missed out on the playoffs because region champions get automatic bids.

Prescott senior quarterback Austin Clark is first in the region in rushing with 1,749 yards, points with 140 and touchdowns with 23 and his 2,460 total yards is fifth in the state.

“He’s a great football player, I definitely would consider him more a runner than a passer but he’s definitely a threat throwing the ball and that’s what they do, they do a great job of setting him up on the run and then hitting you with play action,” Ortiz said.

Zabala said it would be amazing to win back-to-back region titles and a third in four years for these seniors.

“This is what we’ve been building towards and this is what coach has been talking to us about this entire time, so to have it be the final game that decides it and it being in our hands is pretty cool,” Mingus junior tackle/defensive end Ryan Griffin said.

Selection Saturday

On Saturday morning the Marauders will learn their postseason fate.

The bracket show will be streamed for free at nfhsnetwork.com starting at 9 a.m. and ending at 11 a.m. The 4A brackets are scheduled to be unveiled at 10 a.m.

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