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One of the most enjoyable pieces I get to write is my own postseason awards column at the end of every season. It gives me a chance to recognize a great year by a team, a player and the coaches they play for. So let’s get started.

For my Team of the Year award, I would like to select the Sedona Red Rock High School volleyball team.

Head Coach John Parks and the Scorpions won more than 30 matches again in 2011, a feat they accomplished in 2010.

Sedona qualified for the Division IV state tournament and made its way to the final four before losing a close one to No. 1 Thatcher High School in a best-of-five series, 3-2.

Led by senior Katie Furlong, the Scorpions gave Thatcher everything they had but came up just short. Thatcher eventually lost to Northwest Christian High School in the championship, 3-2. It was Northwest Christian’s second straight state title.

Sedona, of course, wasn’t the only team this fall to have a great season. Receiving my runner-up Team of the Year award, I’d like to select the Camp Verde High School football team.

The Cowboys finished the season 9-3 overall, beating Phoenix Christian High School in the first round of the state playoffs Nov. 4, 39-14. Although the weather deterred many Cowboys fans from attending that night, Camp Verde played through it and came out a winner.

In round two, Head Coach Luke Steege and his Cowboys once again lost to St. Johns High School as they did in round two of 2010. This year, Camp Verde lost 21-6.

For my Surprise Team of the Year award, I would like to nominate the Mingus Union High School volleyball squad.

First-year Head Coach Brian Herman figured out a way to get the Marauders to play some of the best volleyball Mingus fans have seen in quite some time.

Mingus finished 10-9 overall, but had a chance to make it to the Division III state playoffs if it weren’t for a season finale loss to rival Sedona on Oct. 27, 3-1.

No one expected the Marauders to be in that position except for themselves, Herman said in an interview after the season was over. He expects Mingus to be back in the same position in 2012.

Receiving my Player of the Year award this fall is senior Camp Verde football player Kody Rayburn.

Rayburn, one of the top running backs in the state of Arizona, accumulated over 1,500 yards rushing this season for the Cowboys with 23 touchdowns. He averaged 130 yards per game on the ground, with an 8.39 yards-per-carry stat. Rayburn fumbled only twice all year.

For my runner-up Player of the Year, I would like to select junior Sedona cross-country runner Mykala Seresun.

Seresun won five gold medals in 11 meets for the Scorpions this season, and was one of the top runners in the state of Arizona all year. Seresun was the favorite to win the Section I [Division III] Championships this season, but halfway through the race, she cramped up, finishing out of the top 10.

As a coach myself, I especially like to hand out my Coach of the Year award. This fall, I would like to select Parks of Sedona volleyball. Parks led the Scorpions to the Division IV state final four, a feat Sedona did not expect to accomplish this season.

My runner-up Coach of the Year award goes to Steege for Camp Verde football.

Although the Cowboys had mostly senior starters, all of whom were very talented, it was Steege who brought them through the system. It’s not often a Camp Verde football team goes 8-2 during the regular season either.

Camp Verde also beat Mingus this season, which was the first time the Cowboys had ever done so. Mingus was 7-0 all-time going into the Oct. 28 game. Camp Verde won this time around, 41-31.

Congratulations to all of my award winners. I look forward to the winter sports season in the Verde Valley.{jcomments on}


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