The Mountain View football players have been walking around area neighborhoods lately, selling coupon cards as a way to raise money for the program.
And each time quarterback Jeremy Boatright stops at a house, he gets the same question.
“Everyone would be like, ‘Are you going to do good this year. Are you going to do good this year’?” he said. “I always have to answer those questions.”
For better or worse, the community surrounding Mountain View lives and breathes football.
Beau Stapley, now a senior, remembers going to the Mountain View games as a kid with thousands of other spectators.
“It was the thing to do,” he said. “Whether you were sitting in the stands or just messing around behind the stands, it didn’t matter. It was the place to go.”
The passion in Toro country remains high as ever. As do the expectations.
But is it time they were lowered?
Five years ago, Mountain View had 74 players on its varsity roster. Today, it has 58.
Coach Tom Joseph still preaches the Mountain View way: a mix of discipline, hard work and attention to detail that has always given the Toros an edge.
But with the increasing frequency of transfers to other top-flight schools across the valley — and lower participation resulting in a decrease in Mountain View’s team speed and overall depth — that may not be enough anymore.
Mountain View went 8-4 last season and lost in the second round of the state tournament to Chandler. In their second game of the season, the Toros were toasted by Chaparral, a 42-10 laugher that was over by halftime.
That was followed up by a loss to Tucson Sunnyside the next week.
“We were so hungry for a win, but we just weren’t getting one,” Stapley said.
Joseph isn’t ready to sound alarms just yet.
Running backs Preston Richardson and Jacom Brimhall were both dealing with injuries early last year, and Mountain View always defers to seniors when choosing starters until the younger players definitively prove they are better.
“We’re trying to teach them about commitment,” Joseph said. “People bail on everything, their jobs, their marriage. If they’re committed to us, we’ll be committed to them. Now, once they show us they can’t get the job done, then, yeah, we’ll put the next guy in. But in all fairness, you’ve got to give them an opportunity to see what they can do.”
And Mountain View did turn it around last year. Despite the two early losses, the Toros rebounded to win the 5A-I Central Region.
“We’re not going to throw in the towel,” Joseph said. “That doesn’t happen here.”
Still, the mystique surrounding the program has dissipated.
The easiest way to tell is by the wrath of opponents. Teams like the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Lakers are often hated because they win so much.
“Everybody hated us (in the early 2000s),” Joseph said. “Maybe people over at Red Mountain still do, but the hate has kind of transferred to other schools now.”
Mountain View returns nine starters on defense, where Joseph doesn’t hesitate to put his best players. A rematch with Chaparral looms in mid-September, when the Toro faithful will have a better idea of this team’s ceiling.
Chances are, it will be lower than at the peak of the program’s success.
Deep down, Joseph probably knows that.
But while winning state titles doesn’t come as often as it used to at Mountain View, he believes it is still possible.
“If we do all the (little) things right, are we still going to be successful? Absolutely,” Joseph said. “That’s what we base ourselves on. That’s the tradition of Mountain View ... “We don’t have the number of kids that we used to. It’s not even close. But that doesn’t matter. We still expect to be good like we always are.”
Pride of Toro Nation
The football program at Mountain View has enjoyed many successful seasons.
State championships: 1978, 1983, 1986, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2002
Year Record Playoff result
2005 11-2 Lost in state semifinals
2006 12-2 Lost in state championship
2007 9-3 Lost in state quarterfinals
2008 12-1 Lost in state semifinals
2009 8-4 Lost in state quarterfinals