Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Jaxon John and Grant Ashby celebrate in the end zone after John caught the game-winning touchdown in the waning seconds of a 21-20 victory over Morenci to propel Pima to the overall number 1 seed in the 2A State Playoffs.
Pima, Thatcher earn number 1 seeds
By Jon Johnson
PHOENIX – Coming off their epic 21-20 victory over previously undefeated Morenci (full game story and highlight video to come), the Pima Roughriders have secured the overall number 1 seed for the 2A State Playoffs. Thatcher finished its unbeaten regular season with a 55-12 victory over Palo Verde Magnet and was awarded the overall number 1 seed for the 3A State Playoffs.
After being ranked 1 and 2 throughout the season, Pima and Morenci flip-flopped after the game with Morenci securing the overall number 2 seed. That means if the two teams are to face each other again, it will be for the 2A State Championship.
No. 1 Pima (5-0 region, 9-1 overall) will open its playoff season hosting No. 16 Chinle (3-0 region, 3-6 overall) at Edd Hubbard Field in Pima on Friday, Nov. 4, starting at 7 p.m. Chinle is ranked 29 but is an automatic qualifier for winning its region.
If Pima advances, it will host the next playoff game on Friday, Nov. 11, versus either No. 8 Camp Verde or No. 9 San Tan Charter.
No. 2 Morenci (4-1 region, 9-1 overall) will open the playoffs hosting No. 15 Tanque Verde (4-1 region, 5-5 overall) at “The Hill” in Morenci on Friday, Nov. 4, starting at 7 p.m. Morenci previously beat Tanque Verde 44-0 when the two teams met in the regular season Aug. 26.
If Morenci advances, it will host the next round as well on Friday, Nov. 11, versus either No. 7 Tonopah Valley or No. 10 Heritage.
It came as no surprise when the brackets were announced that Thatcher was the overall number 1 seed in the 3A Conference.
The Eagles have been atop the rankings for the entire year, and, like with Pima and Morenci, the consensus overall number 2 team, Eastmark, lost to Thatcher in the regular season by 1 point on a last-second field goal, 31-30 on Aug. 26. This means if a repeat of one of the best 3A games of the regular season were to happen it will be for the championship.
No. 1 Thatcher (5-0 region, 10-0 overall) will begin its quest to run the table on a perfect season with a home game against No. 15 Benson (1-4 region, 3-4 conference) at John Mickelson Field at EAC on Friday, Nov. 4, starting at 7 p.m. Thatcher previously defeated Benson 51-0 on Oct. 7. (Side note to AIA: How is Benson in and Safford is not? Safford went 2-3 in the same region as Benson with No. 1 Thatcher, No. 3 Pusch Ridge, and No. 7 Sabino, and Safford defeated Benson in the regular season 42-14 on Oct. 21. Yet somehow Safford finished ranked 17 just behind Benson.
If Thatcher advances, it will host the next round as well on Friday, Nov. 11, versus either No. 8 Valley Christian or No. 9 Mohave.