Athlete of the Week: AJ Mariz

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT) Grand Junction celebrated homecoming with a comeback 18-13 win in their first conference game this season. The win proves that this team has something special.

"Everyone has been saying it since my freshman year that this year was going to be the year we've had a lot of potential,” said Mariz. “I can see it. It's been completely different. The atmosphere between this year and last year, it's huge. We're all hyped, we're all ready to practice, and we’re all brothers."

Mariz has taken over the quarterback position for the Tigers after playing running back last season.

“It's been a lot. It was thrown at me. It's pretty nerve wracking but I love being able to lead my team, lead my brothers, every Friday even at practice,” said Mariz. “I'm going to take the fall but I’m going to be there for my boys no matter what."

But Mariz proved he was able to handle the pressure leading his team to a comeback win scoring two rushing touchdowns including the game winner with just 19 seconds remaining.

“I just need to do what I need to do. Stay focused, lead, and I just need to know what I have to do to help these guys out,” Mariz said. “I have to talk to coaches. They talk to me. They're telling me that I have to be like another coach out there as quarterback and as a captain."

The Tigers were tested with their non-conference schedule but with the start of Jeffco play, it's like they are working with a clean slate.

"We've said that even ourselves. It's like a new season,” Mariz said. “It's league play so the tempo and how we have to be, it's going to be much harder. It's going to be more intense and we are going to have to play up to that level. We have to play how we play."

A 1-0 start is good, but Mariz and the Tigers think they have what it takes to be the best in the league.

"Oh yeah, we do. With the conference we've been in the past two years, it was the hardest conference in 4A,” said Mariz. “We've been playing against tough teams. Now we know what it's like to get beat up on. Now I think it's our turn to do some beating up."