Football season draws nearer

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Thatcher junior quarterback Mark Wren gets a play from assistant coach Don Conrad as second-year head coach Ramon Morales looks on. A 7-on-7 passing session will be held this evening at EAC with Thatcher, Morenci, Pima, and Willcox scheduled to attend. Thatcher hosted only Morenci on June 27.

By Raymundo Frasquillo

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Thatcher senior Jaxon Jarvis led off the Combine Drill, won by the Eagles with a time of 1:23.53 to Morenci’s 1:29.13.

Area high school football players will be participating in 7-on-7 Passing and Big Man Challenge sessions, hosted by Thatcher, at Eastern Arizona College on July 11. The Eagles expect to welcome Morenci, Pima, and Willcox this evening. Sessions were held on each Thursday during June, but not all teams were at full strength.

A high of 108 degrees is projected by the weather service today, possibly lower by the time the sessions get underway.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci senior Omar Ortega starts off for the Wildcats during the Tire Flip Relay, won by Thatcher with a combined time of 2:40.31 to Morenci’s 3:06.38.

Student-athletes continue weightlifting sessions in preparation for the upcoming 2019 season, following several losses to graduation in some of the programs.

Last season, the four programs each qualified for the post-season, No. 14 Pima (2.3252 rating) was 3-7 overall and exited in the first round with a 45-0 loss to No. 3 Eagar Round Valley; No. 10 Willcox (4.1015) ended 7-4 and exited in the first round with a 29-8 loss to No. 7 Saint Johns; No. 4 Morenci (10.8939) finished 9-3 and exited in the quarterfinals with a 14-27 loss to No. 5 Phoenix Christian; and No. 1 Thatcher (20.0352) went 14-0 and outscored four opponents by an average score of 44-6 (177-25) to earn a third consecutive gold ball trophy.

The Eagles’ run had wins of 56-0 over No. 16 Phoenix North Point Prep in round one, 50-6 over No. 9 Benson in the quarterfinals, 35-7 over No. 5 Phoenix Christian in the semifinals, and 36-12 over No. 3 Round Valley for the 2018 championship.

Junior varsity teams posted overall records of 7-2 by Thatcher, with a 36-6 win over Morenci; 2-5-1 by Morenci, with wins of 33-2 over Willcox and 27-0 over Pima; 2-4 by Pima, with a 20-8 win over Willcox; and  3-2 by Willcox.

Morenci welcomes Thatcher to Lawson Stadium for the season opener Aug. 23, Willcox on Sept. 13, and Pima on Oct. 18; and Pima hosts Willcox on Sept. 6 and Thatcher on Oct. 4.

The Eagles have posted a combined 46-6 overall record in the past four seasons. Thatcher went 7-3 (2015), 12-2 (2016), 13-1 (2017), and 14-0 (2018) with a 12-0 post-season record, while the Wildcats went 28-17, or 6-4, 5-6, 8-4, and 9-3 in the same four-year span, with a 2-4 post-season record.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci senior Angel Arellin follows the ball into his hands during a 7-on-7 passing session in Thatcher on June 27.

Morenci will be hosting a four-day fundamentals camp with morning and evening sessions in Lawson Stadium on July 15-18, concluding with a big man competition and a 7-on-7 session with New Mexico Bayard Cobre, Lordsburg, and Silver High on the final day.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci big men prevailed over Thatcher during two separate tug-of-war contests June 27.