Apaches prevail 48-30 over Wildkats in season/region opener

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Duncan senior lineman Austin Bigler (71) stops an opponent ball carrier as juniors Logan Basteen (65) and Benjamin Harris (1) along with sophomore Cutter Scarsella (5) move in to lend a hand. Duncan trailed Fort Thomas by two, 18-20, in the first half. However, the Apaches left Packer Field with a 48-30 win following the season, home, and region opener on Aug. 20. Duncan (0-1) travels Superior (0-1) and Fort Thomas (1-0) to Chandler Lincoln Prep on Friday, Aug. 27.

Fort Thomas leaves Packer Field with 28-12 second-half effort

By Raymundo Frasquillo

DUNCAN – Fort Thomas walked off of Packer Field with a 48-30 1A South Region road win on Aug. 20. The Apaches pulled away from a narrow 20-18 halftime advantage with a 28-12 second-half effort. Duncan had a slim one-point 30-29 (574-542) margin over the Apaches through 19 previous meetings in the 8-man format.

The loss does not indicate the Wildkats should throw in the towel as it was only the opener. And, the home team was not at full strength, having come out of quarantine plus having several members not in uniform at game time.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Diego Montoya readies a stiff arm for Fort Thomas junior Tyler Black. The Duncan quarterback completed 18-43 passes for 224 yards with no interceptions and averaged 1.1 yards per carry.

There were some noteworthy performances by the players on the field in all facets of the game and some not-so-bright spots for both teams. It is early and all are very much correctable.

The teams both had nine first-half possessions, with both scoring thrice. Fort Thomas punted twice, fumbled twice, and turned the ball over on downs twice during its other six possessions. Duncan punted twice, turned the ball over on downs thrice, and took a knee to wind down the clock after lining up a man short.

Fort Thomas received the opening kickoff and scored on the initial play from scrimmage, 13 seconds into the game. Sophomore Carmelo Robertson scampered 69 yards to pay dirt. Junior Tyler Black added the conversion run.

A little over two minutes later, Duncan junior Emiliano Ortega turned sophomore Diego Montoya’s aerial into a 40-yard score. The conversion run was unsuccessful and the Wildkats trailed 6-8 early in the opening quarter.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Emiliano Ortega tries for additional yardage as Fort Thomas sophomore Alex Johnson grabs his jersey. The Duncan junior averaged 6.8 yards per carry.

The Apaches overcame a pair of infractions on a 1st-and-30 snap to score with a pass reception. Senior Aaron Beavers turned a Black pass into an 80-yard touchdown. The conversion pass was short but the visitors led 14-6 with just under four minutes elapsed.

Although the Wildkats started at mid-field on their second possession, they regressed more than advanced and punted on 4th-and-long following six offensive snaps.

Fort Thomas faced an 85-yard drive, picked up 14 yards on five plays but punted on 4th-and-9.

Duncan began 55 yards out, picked up a first down on a Montoya pass, and junior Benjamin Harris covered the remaining 40 yards for the Wildkats’ second touchdown. The conversion pass was intercepted and the home team trailed by two, 12-16, with 2:28 left in the quarter.

Fort Thomas started 65 yards out, advanced during five plays but was slowed with two penalties, and failed to get a first down on 4th-and-24, with 46 seconds left in the first quarter.

Duncan punted on 4th-and-9 to start the second quarter as the next three possessions for both teams gained only one first down before another score was made.

Fort Thomas fumbled on first down, gained a first down only to have a bad snap on 4th-and-6 end the possession, fumbled on first down. Meanwhile, Duncan threw an incomplete fourth-down pass, had a no gain on fourth down, and was sacked on 4th-and-9.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Benjamin Harris dips his head as a Fort Thomas defender moves in to make an open field tackle. The Duncan junior averaged 8.5 yards per carry against the Apaches.

 A pair of plays by Fort Thomas senior Jaren McCabe, a 55-yard gain on a Black pass, and a 5-yard run, put the Apaches on the 10-yard line. Black called his number resulting in a 20-12 advantage with 4:45 left in the half. The conversion pass was short.

Five seconds later, Duncan used three runs, a 17-yard gain by junior Emiliano Ortega, a 9-yard gain by Harris, and a 2-yard gain by Montoya, set up senior Austin Bigler’s 18-yard touchdown run. The conversion run was stopped with under three minutes left in the half.

The Apaches needed 60 yards to score, gained 49 on eight plays but were short on 4th-and-1, turning the ball over on downs.

Duncan found itself 89 yards away with a player short and took a knee to wind down the clock. Fort Thomas led 20-18 at halftime.

The Wildkats used 3:15 to take their only lead of the game on a Harris score early in the third quarter. The conversion pass fell incomplete.

Fort Thomas retook the lead on its next possession, scoring 22 unanswered points before Harris added Duncan’s final touchdown with slightly over seven minutes remaining. Black covered 48 yards for the game’s final six points.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Duncan senior spirit line members, from left, Alexi Walker, Sadie Hawkins, Temperance Calloway, and Ella Jernigan cheer the football team on.

The Wildkats netted 327 offensive yards, 103 yards on 23 carries, and 224 on 18 of 43 passes with no interceptions.

Harris averaged 8.5 (6-51) yards per carry, Ortega 6.8 (4-27) yards, and Montoya 1.1 (13-25) yards. Ortega averaged 19.0 (7-133) yards per catch, Bigler 18.0 (1-18) yards, and Harris 7.3 (10-73) yards. Montoya completed 18-43 passes for 224 yards with no interceptions.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Game official Luis Bayardo accepts a water container to hydrate during a pause in the action.

Defensively, Harris totaled 17 tackles (7 solo, 10 assisted), Bigler 16 (7 solo, 9 assisted), Ortega 12 (5 solo, 7 assisted), junior Logan Basteen nine (4 solo, 5 assisted), sophomore Adriano Burrola seven (3 solo, 4 assisted), junior Carson Potter six (1 solo, 5 assisted), freshman Richard Wortman four (1 solo, 3 assisted), sophomore Cutter Scarsella three (1 solo, 2 assisted), sophomore Rowdy Patton two (2 assisted), and junior Coyote Grove one (1 assisted).

Basteen, Harris, and Patton each recovered a fumble and Bigler notched a quarterback sack.

This week, Duncan (0-1) travels to East Region member Superior (0-1) for a non-region pairing. Superior succumbed 26-42 at Glendale Desert Heights of the West Region.

The Wildkats are 5-6 versus the Panthers in the 8-man format, 2-3 in Superior, and average a 24-40 (268-442) score per game. The most recent pairing resulted in a 6-60 loss during 2017.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Team captains meet at mid-field prior to the start of the game on Packer Field Aug. 20. Duncan captains were Benjamin Harris (1), Austin Bigler (71), and Emiliano Ortega (20). Captains for the Apaches were Elijah Nozie (67) and Treyvon Cheney (80).

Last week, the only other region member that played was Valley Union, which downed East Region member Kearny Ray 28-8 in Elfrida.

This week, Cibecue is at Saint David for a region pairing, Fort Thomas (1-0) is at Chandler Lincoln Prep of the East Region, Valley Union (1-0) hosts Bullhead City Mohave Accelerated of the West Region, and San Manuel welcomes Ray (0-1).