The football season will soon be upon us. Both the University of Arizona and Arizona State will start the campaign with new head coaches at the helm. Dick Koetter takes over from Bruce Snider at Arizona State. Koetter ran a successful program at Boise State that included a bowl appearance last season. The much-traveled John Mackovic replaces Dick Tomey at the University of Arizona. Mackovic was in the broadcast booth for ESPN last season, but has coaching experience at Wake Forest, Illinois, and Texas and with the NFL Kansas City Chiefs.
Jerome Souers will again be the head man at Northern Arizona University. The Lumberjacks will be trying to right themselves after a disappointing 2000 campaign.
Winslow High School will have Matt Gracey stalking the sidelines for his second season as the Bulldog mentor. Chris Gilmore and B. J. Little will assist Gracey on the varsity level.
The Arizona Cardinals will begin their first full NFL season under Coach Dave McGinnis. This franchise desperately needs to field a team that will contend seriously for a play-off berth if not a division title. The new stadium has received an okay from the voters, but the team needs to prove itself on the field to attract the fans to fill it.
Defense is the key to winning in the NFL (and most every where else) and Arizona is, at best, an unproven team of dubious talent. The departure of All-Pro cornerback Anneas Williams has to hurt. He was a quality player and a real asset in the clubhouse. The absence of defensive end Simeon Rice could hurt, too, but probably not as much as some fear. Rice is flashy, but leaves something to be desired in his rush defense. Some of his off the field comments during his tenure in Phoenix did more harm than good as well.
According to all reports, Winslow football players enjoyed huge success in the summer passing league programs. The Bulldogs have speed in A. C. Carter, a proven quarterback in Steven Martinez and a host of defensive backs and receivers who have benefit greatly from the summer program. There are some quality linemen returning from last years second in the Enchantment Region team. A favorable schedule that has the Bulldogs meeting both Tuba City and Monument Valley in Winslow bodes well for their chances. Both Tuba City and Ganado were hard hit by graduation. Holbrook has entered the region and could provide a challenge. Winslow will host the Roadrunners in the final game of the season and would like nothing better than to have the title on the line in that contest. The non-conference games will provide real tests for Gracey’s Bulldogs. Winslow will meet the Snowflake Lobos in Snowflake and entertain the always awesome, defending state champion Blue Ridge Yellowjackets. This is during a four game stretch that also includes Ganado and Monument Valley. After those four games, we should know just how good this team really is.