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Preseason prediction columns are a dime a dozen throughout many sports columns around the country. Many are right, and many more are wrong. In the end, it’s all about good fun and it usually gives readers something interesting to talk about.

After all, I did pick the Green Bay Packers to win Super Bowl XLV shortly before the playoffs began in January. I couldn’t help but select my hometown Milwaukee Brewers in the April edition of From the Cheap Seats to make it to the World Series this season as well, picking against local baseball coaches in the Verde Valley.

I sit here on Thursday, Sept. 1, writing this column while the Brewers have a 8.5-game lead on the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Central and one of the best records in baseball at 81-56. We’re a long way from October baseball and a World Series title, but the Brewers have a good start.

I’ll stop tooting my own horn for a minute and get to the real reason why I’m writing this column: My preseason predictions for fall sports in the Verde Valley.

Through the first week of games, several surprises have already caused local high school fans to blink rapidly like they have something in their eye.

For starters, the Mingus Union High School football team getting stomped in Pinetop-Lakeside Aug. 26. Blue Ridge High School had no trouble with the Marauders, winning 28-7. I’m sure Bob Young will right the ship soon enough, but it’s been a long time since Mingus lost a football game in the first week of the season.

Mingus should finish the year with six or seven wins and qualify for the state playoffs, but the Marauders won’t be playing for a state title this season.

On the other end of the spectrum, how about the Sedona Red Rock High School volleyball team winning its first two matches against schools that triple it in size?

Coconino [1,537 students] and Bradshaw Mountain [1,731 students] high schools stood no chance against the Scorpions last week as Sedona went 2-0. By the way, the Scorpions only have 489 kids running around the halls in Sedona every day.

Sedona’s regular season schedule could be more difficult than postseason play, since the Scorpions sit in Division IV.

They will eventually run into defending 2A conference state champion Northwest Christian High School, or Thatcher High School, the 2A runner-up from 2010, in the playoffs, but these three programs could very well be the cream of the crop.

Sticking with volleyball, Camp Verde High School should be much better this season. The Cowboys made the 2010 state playoffs after sitting and watching the previous three years, but third-year Head Coach Darcy Evans seems to have things under control.

Despite losing junior standout Donnie Buss to soccer, the Cowboys should still be good enough to make the state playoffs in Division IV.

Getting back to football, the Sedona program may have finally caught a break. With the new Arizona Interscholastic Association realignment plan taking full effect this fall, the Scorpions have a few teams on the schedule with similar attributes.

Sedona may win five games this season, four of which come against Greyhills Academy and Tuba City, Hopi and Pinon high schools that are 58-131 in the last five seasons combined.

Just in case you were wondering, Sedona is 7-43 during that time span as well and hasn’t finished .500 or better since Jim Cromartie left in 2005. Five wins may just be enough to get the Scorpions into the Division V state playoffs. Wouldn’t that be a trip?

As for the boys in Camp Verde, Head Coach Luke Steege has a senior-laden team ready to show Division V what they’re made of. I’m picking the Cowboys to get to the final four this season.

In cross-country, Mingus clearly has the best boys team assembled in the Verde Valley with seniors Juan Wells and Colin Garttmeier leading the way. On the girls’ side of the course, Sedona’s junior trio of Mykala Seresun, Taylor Gage and Eva Wilson are legit.

The big three brought home a Section I [Division IV] championship to Sedona in 2010, and the Scorpions will be looking for more in 2011.

Let’s see, what other sports do we have right now? Oh ... soccer.

Thanks to Verde Valley School cancelling its membership to the AIA like it’s a failing movie rental store chain, Camp Verde is the only program in the area at the high school level that plays soccer in the fall.

The Camp Verde boys are looking to have a bounce-back year after getting eliminated by Holbrook High School in the first round last season, 2-0.

Under Head Coach Dave Miller, the boys are certainly capable of improving this fall, and could be one of the favorites with several seniors like Andres Orellana, Michael Casillas and Morcos Lozanilla leading the way. Look for the Cowboys to at least get into the second round this season.

For the girls soccer club at Camp Verde, only 11 other teams actually play soccer in the fall within Division IV. Blue Ridge and Payson High School are always tough, but look for the Cowboys to be somewhere in the middle when it’s all said and done.

How about swimming for Mingus and Sedona? The Scorpions have more athletes in attendance this fall than Kim Kardashian’s wedding and the Marauders are looking to challenge for a state title.

Last but not least is golf. Mingus plays golf in the fall, and the Marauders are looking to a few returners to help make up for the loss of Mike Rebstein, who graduated in May.

Look for Head Coach Craig Mai and his Marauders to figure things out quickly and have at least one or two boys qualify for the Division II State Championships at the end of October.{jcomments on}


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