The Colorado Mesa football Mavericks continue preparations for Saturday's season opener against the Dixie State Red Storm.

With Tuesday's afternoon temperature hovering around 90 degrees in Grand Junction, the Mavericks put their practice in for Saturday night's game at Suplizio Field, where game time temperatures will be much more comfortable for athletes and fans alike.

Head Coach Russ Martin begins his third season leading the Mavericks, and looks to improve upon last year's 5-6 record. It was a disappointing end to a promising season when the Mavericks dropped their last four games after going 5-2 to start the year. The losses included a surprising blowout  by Western State and a two point loss to Adams State in the last game of the season.

(Zane Mathews)

The Mavericks return plenty of weapons on offense, including redshirt sophomore quarterback Aric Kaiser, a transfer from the University of Nebraska-Kearney. Senior running back Ricky Trinidad and junior running back D.J. Hubbard both have big play capability, as does sophomore Jerreon Dennis, who played his high school ball in Grand Junction.

At wide reciever, the Mavericks return their leading receiver from  a season ago, Ian Juede, who led the team with 39 steps. Also returning are sophomore Daniel Purse, and seniors steven Lindquist, and Grand Junctin's  Blaine Jackson, a product of Central High School.

(Zane Mathews)

On the defensive side of the ball, the Mavericks are without last year's All-American Jake Edmiston, who led the nation in tackles. The Mavericks do return plenty of experience including  linemen Zach Beach, Ryan Sivetts, and Grand Junction High School graduate Mitch Irwin.

Other key defenders returning include  all-conference selection Jordan Price, Eric Nimtz, linebacker Mark Palacios, Nick  Yeros, and a couple of local defensive backs, Tyler Winder of Grand Junction, and Cody Daniels of Fruita.

The Mavericks should be a very competitive force in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference this season. With five consecutive losing seasons, the Mavericks have a great shot to get six wins this season --maybe even seven if they stay healthy, get solid play at the quarterback position, and take good care of the football.

While a winning season would certainly nice, this is a group of young men and coaching staff that won't be satisfied with anything less than a conference championship.

Saturday's game is at 7:00pm at Stocker Stadium, and can be heard on the radio on ESPN Radio 1230, and on line at 1230espn.com.