The 4A Conference Flagstaff Eagles are keeping their heads up during a three-game losing skid that followed a 2-0 start to the season.

Flagstaff (2-3, 0-2 Grand Canyon Region) dropped its third straight game last week in a 21-20 home loss to region foe Mohave. The Eagles were stymied by penalties, with multiple touchdowns called back by the officials.

Despite the recent woes, first-year head coach Todd Hanley said the team isn't discouraged.

"I've been around teams that go through this and I've seen what that reaction looks like, and I just don't see it," Hanley said Wednesday. "I think they are real positive and they just want to get after it."

Aside from allowing 48 points to Prescott, defense hasn't been the problem over the past three games. Rather, the offense has struggled to capitalize on its chances and has made mistakes at critical spots.

Last week against Mohave, Flagstaff had a chance to win with under a minute to play inside Mohave territory, but quarterback Joe Weidinger lofted a pass too high, leading to a game-sealing interception.

Plays like that are growing pains for a team adjusting to a new offensive scheme and a head coach figuring out his own way with calling offense.

"We've had some bad breaks and just normal mistakes at bad times," Hanley said.

Weidinger was held without a touchdown pass against Mohave, instead tossing a pair of picks. But the first-year signal caller threw for 113 yards on 14 yards per completion -- showing an ability to move the ball.

Hanley said the other side of the ball has been the strength of the Eagles so far.

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Through five games the Eagles are holding teams to 24 points per game, with the Prescott game being the highest total by more than 20 points. Luis Jaramillo has four tackles for a loss and three sacks this season, doing his best to bolster the Eagles' front seven.

"Our defense has been our strength regardless of our record," Hanley said. " ... I just think you see coached kids, and I'm sure there is a missed tackle somewhere, but I'm not seeing guys get to the point of contact and then the letdown of they miss a tackle. I see guys finishing tackles."


The No. 34-ranked Eagles get the No. 26 Bradshaw Mountain Bears (3-3, 1-1 Grand Canyon), who are coming off a 28-14 home loss to Coconino.

The perennial Grand Canyon Region powerhouse is having a down season so far by its standards, but that doesn't mean the Bears are going to give the Eagles a break.

"I think they are a very good football team," Hanley said. "It's not like some kind of break for us. When you struggle some of the ways we have, it doesn't matter who the opponent is, you gotta fix you and get it rolling and let the score take care of itself."

The Bears offense is headed by dual-threat quarterback Josh Grant, who leads the team in both rushing, 357 yards, and passing, 470 yards. Grant has seven touchdowns on the ground and five through the air -- he scored both of the Bears' TDs against Coconino, which came on the ground.

Containing Grant is a similar task the Eagles have had in a few games this season, such as Prescott and Glendale. It comes down to making the game difficult for Grant and finishing plays.

"You want to make guys like that have to beat you," Hanley said. "You don't him to run around or you'll be in trouble."

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m., Friday in the Walkup Skydome.

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Lance Hartzler can be reached at 556-2251 or at lhartzler@azdailysun.com. Follow him on Twitter @lance_hartz.


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