First day of work positive for Mavs
By ALLEN GEMAEHLICH
Joe Ramunno wasn’t ready to appoint his starting quarterback, or any other starters for that matter, but the Mesa State College football coach liked what he saw on the first day of practice.
“I love this group of guys’ energy,” Ramunno said. “They have good work ethic. It was a typical first day, but shoot, this is a lot of fun.
“Everyone is excited. We have a lot of great challenges ahead, but we have a great group.
They’ll be ready. I’m glad we have a few days to prepare.”
The Mavericks had a 2½-hour practice Thursday at Bergman Field sandwiched between meetings. They have 23 more practices before the season opener at 7 p.m. on Aug. 29 at Stocker Stadium against Central Washington University.
The Mavericks have eight returning offensive players with at least one start and 10 back on defense from a 6-5 (6-3 RMAC) season.
“We know we’ve got a very good defense,” Ramunno said. “I love their attitude. I like what our offense is doing, too.”
The offense, though, will be young, especially at quarterback.
Redshirt freshmen Robert Felberg and Michael Mankoff are splitting time. Although they haven’t played a college game, they are putting forth the effort.
“We tried to prep them as much as we could,” Ramunno said. “This fall that is the unknown. They are capable of getting it done. It’s the same thing at running back. The guys are very talented and can get the job done. Sometimes youth is a good thing.”
Junior center and offense captain Ryan Swope said the two QBs have impressed him.
“It’s really hard to replace Phil Vigil because he had that leadership and that athleticism,” Swope said. “These guys saw the shoes they have to fill and are jumping right into it.
They’ve made leaps and bounds in this offense. They’re progressing a lot faster than anyone thought, even the coaches.
“We have a lot of weapons in this offense, but the thing is we have a great freshman class.
We brought a lot of really good guys in. They want to work, they’re taking pride in learning all the stuff. As long as everyone is competing, that pushes everyone a lot more. We’re going to be pretty good this fall.”