Come this Friday, the omens pasted at the end of stockbroker television ads might well apply to the Marana Tigers’ football season: “Past performance does not guarantee future results.”
Even as his kids prepped for their regional opener against a woeful Pueblo squad last Thursday morning, head coach Willie Dudley suggested the Tigers dash their glow from two straight wins with caution.
“Every game’s an adventure,” Dudley said. “There’s nobody on our schedule that we take easy.”
The next evening, the Tigers won 14-6 at home — and stepped one pace closer to turning their 0-4 start into a playoff-bound dash.
Band-Aids became all the rage for Marana, as an untested offense and high defensive hopes both flamed out at season’s launch.
Starting quarterback Santiago Miranda sat out injured during the first two games, while three receivers from the Tigers’ spread offense eventually went down — including senior Justin Faust, who suffered a broken collarbone against Palo Verde on Sept. 12.
The Tigers were outscored 171-41, as squads with a collective 24-1 record handed them a quartet of morale-stomping losses.
But Dudley and his staff tired of watching their kids sag under defeat’s weight, and instituted a traditional offense of fullbacks and tight ends.
“It’s good to win,” Dudley said. “I think in the effort, we got the right people in the right positions, and a lot of wounds were healed.”
Locker room attitudes have shifted with a steady dose of victory — and a shrug of nascent bruises, said senior back Michael Kivi, who ran 16 times for 113 yards and a touchdown in Friday’s effort.
“We realized we played some tough teams early on,” Kivi said. “We just have to keep working hard to finish well.”
Turnaround may be in the wind, but no guarantees exist.
In the last three weeks, Marana (3-4) outscored its foes 55-26 — but those teams carry a combined 3-16 record and don’t quite resemble the steely Canyon Del Oro and Catalina Foothills squads that lurk around the corner.
Along with Kivi, senior linebacker Kane Punt knows those coming matchups translate into a lot of hard work for the Tigers, if they plan on making the playoffs.
With a 1-0 regional record, they’re on the right path.
“They’re all going to be tough games,” Punt said. “But we’re going to have to make something out of it.”