By stringing together eight consecutive lopsided wins over the course of two seasons, the Rim Country Middle School Mavericks eighth-grade football team has become the bad boy of the White Mountain League.
After finishing 6-0 last season as seventh-graders, the team opened the 2001 campaign Aug. 30 by pounding homestanding Winslow, 30-6.
The streak continued Sept. 6 in Snowflake, where the Mavericks posted a 30-0 win over the Lobos.
The Mavericks went looking for their ninth consecutive win Thursday on PHS field against the St. Johns Redskins. (Results were not available at press time).
In the win over Snowflake, the Mavericks were forced to play without the services of several players due to academic ineligibility.
"We were concerned because we were 15 players short on a 35 player roster," coach Dave Blalock said.
But the absence of the ineligible players had little effect on the outcome of the game. Riding the exploits of quarterback/defensive back Josh Blalock the coach's son the team cruised to an easy win. Blalock scored two rushing touchdowns and returned an interception for a score.
The coach commended Cash Armstrong, who chipped in with two touchdowns one rushing and the other on an interception return.
The coach also had plenty of praise for the offensive line of Donald Engler, Jake Gressley, Luke Runzo, Keven Allen and Dustin Stuthman.
"It was a great team effort to step up and take care of business," he said.
In the season-opener against Winslow, the coach and his charges were eagerly anticipating a struggle, since both teams finished undefeated last season.
During that campaign, the two did not meet once in a head-to-head WML confrontation, so both were declared WML champs.
The 2001 season-opening clash never turned into the barn burner that was expected. Josh Blalock's two touchdown runs and one from Armstrong was simply too much for the Bulldogs to overcome.
Josh Blalock also lofted an aerial to Larry Everetts and finished a commendable 8-for-13 through the airways.
Once again, the coach praised the offensive line for dominating the line of scrimmage.
Shelton Keith and Derrick Hoosava also performed well, the coach said.
Younger set gets first win
In seventh-grade action against Snowflake, coach Mike Loutzenheiser saw his team even its record to 1-1 with a 28-12 win over the Lobos.
"A win over Snowflake is always sweet," the coach said. "I'll take it any time."
The Mavericks were able to nail down their first win of the season despite being without the services of first line quarterback Billy Herrin, who was sidelined with injuries.
Loutzenheiser called upon Alex Bunk, normally a tailback, to fill in at signal caller. The youngster responded admirably, scoring the go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter on a quarterback sneak.
"He did a great job," Loutzenheiser said.
Miles Huff also shined, returning two interceptions for touchdowns.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Mavs dominated.
"They had only six yards at halftime," the coach said.
About the only shortcoming of the Mavericks was in special teams. Snowflake was able to score both its touchdowns on long punt returns.
"We really broke down there," Loutzenheiser said.
Like their eighth-grade counterparts, the seventh-graders were in action Thursday against St. Johns.