Mesa State Football: Defense still strong for Mavs

The Mesa State College football team opened spring camp looking for the one thing it lost from its 2007 playoff season — aggressive, intense defense.

It appears to be there.

The defense didn’t allow the offense to score a touchdown outside the 10-yard line Saturday morning in an modified scrimmage at Bergman Field.

“We’ve got a good defense,” Mesa State coach Joe Ramunno said. “They are very similar to the ’07 bunch. They have great tenacity. They fly around and have a great time doing it.”

Co-defensive coordinators Darin Robidoux and Bill Stafford were pleased, but are looking for more in the final week of practice.

“I think we’re progressing each day through spring,” Robidoux said. “The nice thing is our young guys are getting good reps and seeing improvement. That’s what we really want in spring ball.

“We need to pick it up a little bit for my standards, though.”

The Mavericks conclude spring practice with their final scrimmage at 10 a.m. next Saturday at Bergman Field.

A group of Mesa football parents are hosting a barbecue for $5 a person for fans at the final scrimmage to raise money for the program. The barbecue includes a pork sandwich, chips and soda. A Mesa State football helmet will be raffled.

“The whole idea came about in January when the school asked the team to cut $50,000 from its budget,” Mesa Pigskin Parents Club organizer Russ Means said. “The only leeway there is in the travel expenses.

“We’re trying to raise money to offset the costs. There is no guarantee a game won’t be cut out of the schedule. The kids have worked hard and deserve a chance to play a full schedule.”

The Mavericks are scheduled to host NCAA Division II playoff qualifier Central Washington in the season opener at 7 p.m. on Aug. 29 at Stocker Stadium and play Sept. 5 at Missouri Western State University. 

As good as the defense has looked this spring, the Mavericks’ offense has some work to do.

Redshirt freshmen Robert Felberg and Mike Mankoff are splitting snaps at quarterback behind a young and inexperienced offensive line that includes three freshmen. The Mavericks lost three offensive linemen from last season and are without two this spring because of illness and injury — tackles Brett Minson (flu) and Trevor Stapp (knee).

“It’s very difficult right now,” Ramunno said. “We don’t have our two top tackles. A lot of young guys are having to work their way into it. Those are the bumps and bruises you take. We’re trying to get better every down.

“We’re trying to fill in the holes we lost. We’ve got a good group of seniors we lost. We’re trying to get the chemistry together, working together. They’re the toughest ones to replace.”


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