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Arizona schools competing to advance in mascot contest

PHOENIX — The Yuma High Criminals are fighting to be the best mascot in the country.

The Criminals are competing against seven other Arizona schools to win the first round of USA Today’s “High School Sports: America’s Best” contest series.

Other Arizona schools competing to move into the regional round include: The Bagdad Sultans, Apache Junction Prospectors, Page Sand Devils, Gila Bend Gila Monsters, Heritage Academy (Mesa) Heroes, Valley Vista (Surprise) Monsoon and the Verrado (Buckeye) Vipers.

According to the Yuma High athletic department, the school earned its “criminal” mascot about a century ago when Yuma High students had to attend classes in a vacated prison after the original school building burned down.

You can cast your favorite mascot vote at There is no limit to how many times a person can vote. The first round of voting ends Tuesday at noon.

After the Arizona winner is determined, there will be a round of voting consisting of team mascots from eight regions, followed by a national voting round.