The Coconino Panthers have played impressive, dominant football to start the season, going 3-0 and outscoring the competition 161-25 on the way for a solid start to 2019.

But none of the Panthers' first three opponents have a win yet this season. That trend continues Friday when Coconino opens the Grand Canyon Region schedule against a Mingus Union team that's 0-4 a year after opening the same slate at 3-1 last year.

Mingus Union, however, has faced what 4A Conference Panthers head coach Mike Lapsley termed as "quality teams." The Marauders' last three defeats have come to Seton Catholic, Mesquite and Show Low.

It's business as usual for Coconino this week.

“I don’t know that their record necessarily dictates how good they are," Lapsley said Wednesday. "So once again, we will come out and treat it like every other week and try to get the job done."

The Panthers are coming off a win in which they did their job and then some, posting the most points scored in a game in program history during a 77-12 rout of Cortez on Friday at home.

That was just one record broken of a long list that evening.

Junior running back Zach Bennett ran for a career-high five touchdowns against Cortez and added one via the passing game. He set a program record for most rushing TDs in a single game as well as most touchdowns in a single game and most points scored by an individual player at 36.

Panthers kicker Jesus Trejo made the best of the high-scoring performance, besting his program-best eight extra points set a year ago with 11 against Cortez.

Although Bennett put up the big numbers, the Panthers have plenty of options for production. Panthers first-year quarterback Jordan Lucero is 6-of-9 passing overall this season and has three touchdowns to zero interceptions. Running back Bailey McCauslin has three touchdowns and three other Coconino players have rushing scores.

And the 161 combined points the Panthers have put up this season through three games is more than the team scored in total during 18 seasons of the program's history.

It's what they do this week, however, that will give Lapsley a good idea of where the team is really at, saying that, man-for-man, this is his team's toughest test so far this season.

“We still have a ton of work to do, for sure," he said.

Last season, Coconino outlasted Mingus Union in Cromer Stadium, 42-40. The Panthers had to play from behind for the first time that year to get the home win and start 4-0. Bennett's gutsy play of taking a punt snap for a first down was crucial in the comeback.

Much like last season, the Panthers have yet to face pressure, and the goal is to avoid a letdown -- or even take a step backward.

Here are a few more things to look for when Coconino opens the region slate on the road in Cottonwood Friday against the Marauders at 7 p.m.:


With Friday's big victory, Bennett moved into the No. 6 spot in the state in most points scored at 64. He also became one of seven players in the state to record 10 or more touchdowns so far this season.


Mingus Union has only scored 14 total first-half points so far this season across four games. Coconino, on the other hand, is averaging 20.7 points in the opening quarter, its strongest 12 minutes scoring-wise so far this season.


Panthers defensive end Zackery Larocque will miss Friday's game with an injury. He is currently averaging the fourth-most tackles for the team per game at 5.5.

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Mike Hartman can be reached at 556-2255 or at mhartman@azdailysun.com. Follow him on Twitter @AZDS_Hartman.


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