The Mountain View Mountain Lions have a new attitude. First-year head coach Justin Argraves has brought a new energy and discipline to a Mountain Lions team that struggled to a 3-7 record last year.
Argraves brings a defensive philosophy from a winning program at Goodyear Millennium, where he was the defensive coordinator for a couple of seasons.
"We have a lot of talent this year," said senior Aries Hyman, probably the team's best player. "Our offensive line is good. Our defense is hard-hitting."
Argraves "pushes us a lot harder than we were in previous years," Hyman said.
Argraves certainly believes the last few months of training have been time well spent.
"The kids have made great strides," Argraves said. "They've bought in. The commitment level is strong."
There are seven returning seniors. The returnees include Mark McMillon, Cecil Fuentes, Cody Ayers, Miguel Rojas, Bryce Smith, Devin McPeek and Hyman.
Junior Marcos McMillion becomes the new quarterback.
"Marcos is an improvement," Hyman said. "We're going to be more of a passing team."
Last year's team was mostly a running team, because Myles Williams rushed for 1,237 yards and averaged almost six yards a carry. The Mountain Lions threw 80 passes all season. At times, Williams would carry the ball four or five times in a row.
Despite the loss of Williams, who was a senior, the team hopes to be better offensively, at least better balanced.
"We have Rayvean Moore and Jerry Teauge at wide receiver," Argraves said. "There's also Devin McPeek. At running back, Dillon Davidson, Weston Kimmel and Cecil Fuentes. Everyone's flying under the radar."
On the defensive side, there's Hyman, with Aaron Noel at defensive lineman, Ayers and Chris Thorson.
"Aries Hyman is our best defensive lineman overall," Argraves said.
Argraves says he's looking to build a team that will be a perennial winner, will feel like a family, and one where the players can come back in the future and point to their school with pride.
As for the immediate short-term?
"After four weeks (into the season), I want to see that all the athletes are competing every play," Argraves said. "They're chomping at the bit. We're hoping to be in the hunt for the playoffs."
Mountain View opens the season at Tempe Marcos de Niza on Aug. 27. The Lions are pointing at the contest Sept. 3 against Marana.
"That's our first home game (vs. Marana)" Argraves said. "I'm very excited. They grew up playing with some of them."
Mascot: Mountain Lions
Region: 5A Southern
Colors: Black, Silver
Head Coach-Justin Argraves,1st season
2008-2009, defensive coordinator, Millennium (Goodyear)
Aug. 27 at Marcos de Niza
Sept. 3 Marana
Sept. 10 Red Mountain
Sept. 16 at Sabino
Sept. 24 Sunnyside
Oct. 1 Tucson
Oct. 8 at Rincon
Oct. 22 at Salpointe
Oct. 29 Buena
Nov. 5 at Ironwood Ridge
Lions' Hyman a defensive anchor
Aries Hyman may be one of the best-kept secrets in Southern Arizona.
Hyman made all-conference last year for a Mountain View football team that went 3-7. As a defensive lineman, he was named to the first team all-5A Southern regional team.
Hyman takes a lot of pride in his defense.
"Outside contain at linebacker," Hyman said. "And stopping the run." Those are his primary duties, but he may also be used by the Mountain Lions at wide receiver.
First-year coach Justin Argraves is trying to instill a new attitude, and a winning philosophy, to Mountain View. Despite spending just a few months around the Mountain Lion senior, Argraves is already impressed by him.
"He's a gem," Argraves said. "Aries Hyman is our best defensive lineman overall."
Hyman may get even more recognition this year, provided the Mountain Lions make the playoffs.
"Our offensive line is good. Our defense is hard-hitting."
He also carries a grade-point average of 3.6. A versatile player, Hyman has played wide receiver, running back, tight end, outside linebacker and on the defensive line.
He's been timed running the 40-yard dash in 4.8 seconds. But the greatest noise he's made has been on the defensive line. In 2009, he was credited with 11 sacks and 96 tackles.
"We have a lot of talent this year," Hyman said.
— Curtis Elliott