Focus is on signal callers after Mesa's spring scrimmage
Jason Haferman has emerged as a challenger for the role of Colorado Mesa’s starting quarterback.
The junior from Fort Collins got lost in the shuffle last fall, but proved he could lead the Mavericks under new head coach Russ Martin.
Haferman led the White team on two scoring drives in the White team’s 24-7 victory over the Cardinal team in the Mavericks’ spring football game on Saturday morning at Stocker Stadium.
“We’re getting better (at finishing), but we still have a ways to go,” Martin said. “It’s not just finishing drives, but finishing plays. That’s from the blocking standpoint, the tackling standpoint. At the intermission, I visited with the defenses about trying to create the turnovers and being a great turnover team. Coach (Todd) Auer’s always had great turnover teams. We want that to continue here.”
Haferman, who didn’t play for the Mavericks last season, completed 5 of 7 passes for 53 yards. The White team had 11 first downs with him under center.
“I felt good today,” Haferman said. “I thank everybody that supported me through the whole spring. We came out today and executed. I think the biggest part was go out and have fun. I was told that by many people, coaches and players.”
Thomas Sua had 12 carries for 100 yards and one touchdown for the White team.
Haferman split time with Chris Henderson and Michael Mankoff under center for the White team.
Henderson completed 3 of 5 passes for 39 yards (all on the team’s final drive). He led the team to six first downs. Mankoff completed 1 of 4 passes for 3 yards and had an interception. The team had three first downs.
“Jason had a very good day today,” Martin said. “Without looking at the video, I think all the quarterbacks did some good things today. I know Jason was in on a couple big drives. He handled himself really well today.
“Deke (Cisco) was pretty good at times, had a couple mistakes. I know Chris Henderson had a couple good plays, Steve Romero and Mike Mankoff had a couple good things. What we want to do with the quarterbacks is we want them to learn the system, on what they got to work on and what’s expected of them. It will be in the summer and first couple weeks of fall camp, things will really sort itself out.”
The White team’s offensive line included three returning staters in center Austin Bennett, tackle Trevor Stapp and guard Brett Boyer.
Austin Rodriguez led the receivers with three catches for 77 yards. The sophomore had a 46-yard reception from Robert Felberg, after the slot receiver took a pitch from Henderson on the first play to open the second half. Caleb Pavy hit a 24-yard field goal to cap the drive.
Cardinal quarterbacks Deke Cisco and Steve Romero completed 12 of 21 passes for 106 yards with one touchdown, one interception and one fumble. They led the team to 10 first downs.
Cisco completed 9 of 14 passes for 48 yards with one interception. Romero completed 3 of 7 passes for 58 yards with one touchdown and one fumble.
The fumble proved costly.
Redshirt freshman linebacker A.J. Coccillos recovered the ball and had no one in front of him, returning it 53 yards for a touchdown after the brief intermission.
“I love the new defense,” said Coccillos, who was blitzing on the play. “We’re always blitzing. My favorite thing to do is blitz. Coach Auer’s real intense. If we’re not around the ball, we’re paying for in practice.”
There were five turnovers total, three by the White team.
“I think there was a lot of really good things today,” Martin said. “I thought both sides executed pretty well. A couple mistakes on a couple turnovers. Part of that is working out timing. Also, we had guys working with different guys they’ve been working with all spring. We want to get the turnover situation taken care of but it’s also great to see some big plays offensively and defensively.”