Coach of the Year!

Raymundo Frasquillo Photos/Gila Herald: From left, Morenci’s Rishard Davis, Mikey Casillas, and Tristen Sanchez have been named the 3A South Region Coach of the Year, Offensive Player of the Year, and Defensive Player of the Year, respectively.

Morenci sweeps Coach, Offensive, and Defensive 3A South Region awards

By Jon Johnson

MORENCI – Move up from 2A to 3A, with a new coach? No problem bruddah, as Morenci took the 3A South Region and swept most major awards. 

Coach of the Year 3A South Region – Rishard Davis, Morenci

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: First-year head coach Rishard Davis was named 3A South Region Coach of the Year.

Humble to the core, after every victory Davis would praise the team and say he had little to do with it since he wasn’t the one playing. 

After winning a 2A State Championship with Santa Cruz in 2020, Davis returned to his roots but was unable to land a head coaching job. That worked out for Morenci, and Davis said the mining town has been a good fit for him. 

“It’s good to be in Morenci,” he previously said. 

Davis led Morenci to a 3A South Region Title in his first year at the helm as the Wildcats finished with a 8-4 overall record (3-1 region), falling 35-42 to No. 3 Paradise Honors in the quarterfinals of the 3A State Playoffs. 

3A South Region Offensive Player of the Year – Michael Casillas, Morenci

Mikey Casillas was a beast in 3A just as he was in 2A and after compiling 250 yards in his final game ended up 6th in the state this year, with a total of 1,732 yards gained on the ground. He also finished with 17 TDs this year. 

Casillas topped 5,828 yards for his high school varsity career, averaging 129.5 yards per game and an outstanding 7.5 yards per rush for his career. 

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Michael Casillas (7) did not let a torn jersey slow him down in Benson. The Morenci senior running back finished No. 7 in the history of the state of Arizona for most rushing yards in a career with 5,828.

His 5,828 yards put Casillas at number 7 all-time for most rushing yards in a career for the state of Arizona 2A-6A. The number two player on that list, Bijan Robinson out of Salpointe Catholic, is currently starring for the Atlanta Falcons in his rookie season in the NFL. 

3A South Region Defensive Player of the Year – Tristen Sanchez, Morenci

Tristen was his 2A Region Defensive Player of the Year last year and has now repeated the feat in 3A this year, taking the title for top defender in the 3A South. 

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Tristen Sanchez (5) introduced himself to senior reserve quarterback Willy Nelson (8) early in the fourth quarter. The Morenci senior has been named 3A South Region Defensive Player of the Year.

Sanchez lived in his opponents’ backfield and struck havoc on offensive lines all season, with 70 solo tackles and 14 sacks. 

3A South Region Offensive Player of the Year – Cameron Hackworth, Sabino

Hackworth did it all for the Sabercats as he helmed the team as the QB. He continues to score as Sabino is in the semifinals Mohave. 

3A South All-Region 1st Team

Morenci: Donovan Vozza, defensive lineman, Joey Seballos, defensive utility/flex, and Austyn Nelson-Porter, offensive lineman. 

Photo By Stan Bonifacio Sports Photography: Izaiah Alvarado returns a kickoff back across midfield. Alvarado was one of three Bulldogs selected to the 3A South Region All-Region 1st Team.

Safford: Izaiah Alvarado, defensive back, Anthony Garrobo, linebacker, and Chris Shatto, receiver/tight end.

Thatcher: Carter Peck, defensive lineman, Brett Jones, linebacker, Brigham Rasmussen, offensive lineman, Zac Salazar, offensive lineman, Kody Bingham, offensive utility/flex, Kody Bingham, punt returner, and Christian Carter, running back. 

3A South All-Region 2nd Team

Morenci: Xavier Fernandez, defensive back, Andrew Chavez, defensive lineman, Derick Lytle, linebacker, John Provencio, long snapper, Isaiah Cook, offensive lineman, and Anthony Ballesteros, placekicker.  

Stan Bonifacio Sports Photography/Special to the Gila Herald: Christian Carter (32) was named to the 3A South All-Region 1st team as a running back and Jojo Ruelas (2) was named to the 3A South All-Region 2nd Team as a quarterback.

Safford: Xavier Owens, defensive lineman, Chris Shatto, kickoff returner, Noah Dominguez, linebacker, Gary Smith, offensive lineman, Brandon Aguilar, offensive lineman, Izaiah Alvarado, punt returner, Cole Goodman, punter, Jojo Ruelas, quarterback, Cole Goodman, receiver/tight end, and Monster Rios, running back.

Thatcher: Wyatt Nicholas, defensive back, Koen Henry, defensive back, Daniel Jones, defensive lineman, Dylan Riney, linebacker, and Wyatt Nicholas, receiver/tight end.