Mavs Sweep Runners, Celebrate First ‘W'

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On a day in which all four of the Rim Country Middle School teams pounded out victories over Holbrook, the greatest White Mountain League laurels were reaped by the eighth-grade football team.

A 34-0 victory Thursday over the visiting Roadrunners will go down in sports ledgers as the team's first victory in two years of gridiron competition at RCMS.

Last year as seventh graders, the Mavs were winless and lost most games by huge margins.

The team opened this season with losses to Winslow and Show Low before rebounding to thump the Runners.

The long-awaited victory was reason for celebration Friday morning in the hallways of Rim Country Middle School.

Assistant principal and athletic director Tim Fruth saved the news that the team had won its first game until a dramatic last moment of the daily morning announcements.

When the news was proclaimed, some students applauded and cheered the players.

Maverick lineman Kyle Allen, could only say, "Awesome."

Eighth-grade coach Jimmy Oestmann, a former star quarterback at Payson High School, celebrated as if he'd just learned he was holding the winning lottery ticket.

"These kids really needed this," he said. "They've lost for too long."

Although Oestmann didn't coach the team through the dredges of last season, he knew all too well the players were losing confidence.

"This is what they needed to go and become a good team and better players," he said.

One of the keys to the victory might have been switching quick guard Taylor Johnson to tailback.

In his first game at the position, Johnson scored all five Maverick touchdowns and rushed for more than 200 yards.

"He was getting eight to 10 yards a carry" Oestmann said.

By running mostly power plays on the strong side of the offensive line, the Maverick offense was able to overpower the Runners all afternoon.

Oestmann cited quarterback Chris Durbin and fullback Zac Burba for their contributions but saved most of his praise for the offensive line.

"They were a big reason we won," Oestmann said.

In the Mav's Wing-T offense, Allen anchors the line at center. Scott Andrus mans the strong guard position and Justin Furlong plays strong tackle. Trevor Day lines up at quick guard and Kevin Conner plays quick tackle.

Other teams

On the seventh-grade gridiron front, the Mavericks stayed unbeaten (3-0) with a 42-12 win over the homestanding Roadrunners.

Also in Holbrook, the Lady Maverick seventh-grade softball team, coached by Vince Caballero, won a 20-12 laugher.

In Payson, coach Will Dunman's Lady Mav eighth-grade team beat Holbrook 10-1.

All RCMS teams return to WML action Sept 25 against Blue Ridge. The eighth-graders travel to Lakeside for 3:30 p.m. games. The seventh-grade teams host Blue Ridge at 3:30 p.m. on PHS playing fields.

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