Learning has to come first for Kingman's Bulldogs

Led by head coach Greg Tonjes (wearing yellow), the Kingman Bulldogs huddle up during the 7-on-7 passing league competition Tuesday at Lee Williams. (RYAN ABELLA/Miner)

Led by head coach Greg Tonjes (wearing yellow), the Kingman Bulldogs huddle up during the 7-on-7 passing league competition Tuesday at Lee Williams. (RYAN ABELLA/Miner)

KINGMAN - The offense has a new look with new formations, and the defense has new schemes that the Kingman High Bulldog coaching staff hopes will translate into success after going winless last season.

"We're making sure our players are great learners of our schemes," said KHS football coach Greg Tonjes. "We've got 30 to 40 guys who are understanding what we are trying to accomplish."

Kingman wrapped up its 7-on-7 passing league portion of the summer Tuesday at Lee Williams against the Volunteers, Kingman Academy, Laughlin and River Valley. The Bulldogs' passing attack, which Tonjes loves to deploy, was one of the things he liked most about the session.

"Our completion percentage was a lot higher - over 60 percent," the coach said. "We threw the long ball very well. We wanted them to play faster, and they did."

Junior quarterback Nate Sinclair did most of the driving for Kingman, though junior Alex Gilliman also took some snaps. Sinclair passed for more than 2,000 yards and 18 touchdowns last year on JV, and Tonjes is pleased with Sinclair's desire to be Kingman's No. 1 quarterback.

"Nate's been hitting the weights and has been in the gym since February," Tonjes said. "He hasn't missed a practice, and he's the first to get here and the last to leave."

Sinclair saw some pros and cons with his team's performance on Tuesday.

"We worked harder than we usually do," the quarterback said. "We just need to not fall for the mind games and stuff like that."

River Valley, Division IV's defending state champion, has gotten a little chippy with the Bulldogs over the summer.

"River Valley plays mind games and wants to get into our heads," Sinclair said. "We need to just not pay attention to them and play our football."

Tonjes by no means is anointing the left-handed Sinclair the starter. Gilliman brings a different style of quarterbacking to the offense, and the coach said he wouldn't be making that decision until two weeks prior to the season opener Aug. 28 at Chino Valley. But Sinclair definitely has his attention.

"He's made great strides, and he's ahead of where we needed him to be," Tonjes said. "It's still early, and they know it's a competition."

Kingman's defense is still under construction, and using a passing league scrimmage to judge the unit isn't fair.

"It's tough when you're getting 60 to 70 passes thrown at you," the coach said. "We were aggressive, which was nice. This was our best showing this summer."