Originally published Friday, August 3, 2018 at 06:00a.m.
August has finally arrived and that means one thing to me – fall sports are here.
While I might regret saying this in a few weeks once it starts getting busy, I’m glad the new school year is upon us. The 2018-19 sports campaign should be an exciting one, especially with Kingman Academy moving up to 3A.
It will make contests between Academy and Kingman High much more interesting and provide for a true rivalry experience.
But don’t overlook Lee Williams as the Volunteers should continue to make ground in a very competitive 4A Grand Canyon Region.
The Vols, Bulldogs and Tigers definitely have their work cut out for them in 2018 and I’ve decided to give an outlook for each football team.
Coach: Clint Sasse
2017 record: 4-6 overall, 1-5 4A Grand Canyon Region.
My prediction this season: 6-4, 3-3 4A Grand Canyon Region.
2018 opener: Aug. 17 at home against Lake Havasu, 7 p.m.
2018 outlook: The Vols are entering their third year in the 4A Grand Canyon Region and are still looking to win a game against an opponent other than Coconino. But expectations couldn’t be higher for Lee Williams as head coach Clint Sasse has a talented senior class to lead the charge.
However, it’s far too early to say how the Vols do in a grueling region that was led by Mingus, Prescott and Bradshaw Mountain last year. Not to mention a Flagstaff squad that struggled late in the season.
There is a slight advantage for the Vols though, as no one in the region will be expecting them to rise to the top and that could pay off as the season unfolds.
Game to Watch: Oct. 12 at home against Coconino – The Vols held on for a 14-7 win last season on the road at Coconino. I believe this could be a make-or-break contest for Lee Williams.
A victory could provide the catalyst for the Vols to win their final two region games, but a loss could turn the tides in the wrong direction.
Coach: Cam Wierson
2017 record: 2-8, 0-5 3A West Region.
My prediction this season: 5-5, 2-3 3A West Region.
2018 opener: Aug. 17 at home against Pinon, 7 p.m.
2018 outlook: The Bulldogs started off last season on the right track with a win at home over Joy Christian and will look to do the same when they host Pinon. Kingman is sure to benefit from head coach Cam Wierson returning after passing on the job at Tucson’s Marana High.
As many know, a football program needs stability and it can only help the Bulldogs make progress with the same leader.
It’s going to be tough sledding in a region featuring top dogs Northwest Christian and Wickenburg. However, there will be a familiar foe and that brings me to the next category.
Game to Watch: Oct. 26 at Academy – The Bulldogs didn’t fare very well in last season’s 48-6 loss Sept. 1, but this year’s meeting comes with much higher stakes.
The winner not only gets city bragging rights, but also adds a victory in the region win column. Grab your popcorn and enjoy a thrilling season finale.
Coach: John Morgando
2017 record: 7-3, 4-1 2A Central Region.
My prediction this season: 6-4, 3-2 3A West Region.
2018 opener: Aug. 24 at Southside Park against Utah’s Canyon View High School, 7 p.m.
2018 outlook: The Tigers are beginning a new era under the leadership of John Morgando as the former assistant coach is stepping into the limelight.
That consistency at the top should help the Academy make the transition to 3A. However, the question mark is how the Tigers manage against tougher competition.
While the numbers on the sideline won’t be in its favor, I expect Academy’s speed and quickness to make a difference and help them succeed.
The toughest challenges will be Northwest Christian and Wickenburg, but only time will tell if the Tigers can make some noise.
Game to Watch:
Sept. 7 at Lee Williams – The Tigers fell short by one point, 21-20, in last year’s meeting on Sept. 8 and there’s no question they’ll be hungry for a win this year.
It is also interesting to note that Academy will be the lone city of Kingman team to play everyone in town this year as the Bulldogs and Volunteers won’t meet on the gridiron.
So it would be surprising to see the Tigers spring the upset here and then knock off the Bulldogs at the end of the season to win the “City Championship.”