Morenci at Thatcher scrimmage to gauge season progress Friday

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci linemen engage dummies as they exit a chute during the second week of practice sessions. Thatcher hosts Morenci for a scrimmage on John Mickelson Field on Friday, Aug. 12 at 6 p.m. The 2022 season opener is a week away. Morenci faces Scottsdale Christian in Lawson Stadium and Thatcher meets Round Valley in Eagar on Aug. 19.

Wildcats stay home, Eagles travel for the 2022 opener a week later

By Raymundo Frasquillo

GRAHAM COUNTY – Thatcher hosts Morenci for a scrimmage on John Mickelson Field on Friday, Aug. 12 at 6 p.m. The teams have met four times during the off-season in June. It was thrice at Eastern Arizona College, Safford, and Pima during 7-on-7 passing sessions and Big Man Challenges. The fourth encounter was in The Land of Enchantment at Silver High during similar sessions, but the Eagles did not have big men.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Final drill of the first day of full pads and contact is driving someone off of a yellow brick. Chavez brothers, Patrick and Andrew, accepted the challenge with the outcome determining which teammates did push-ups.

Prior to those meetings, the teams were region rivals with the Graham County boys having a 30-9 overall record (1982-2019) and a 26-13 (1,018-501) average score per game or a 13-point margin over their Greenlee County visitors. The teams stopped meeting during the regular season when the Eagles switched to the 3A Class for the 2020 season.

This time, helmets and pads will be worn, 11 players will be fielded by each team, and running plays will be part of the offense. It is an opportunity for both teams to gauge progress after three weeks, and for players to hit someone other than their own teammates. A score will not be kept.

Thatcher Eagles

Thatcher went 47-7 overall (2016-19) while going 14-1 and averaging a 40-14 (593-204) score per game in the post-season during its’ final four years as a 2A school (2016-19). The Eagles ended 12-2 (2016), 13-1 (2017), 14-0 (2018), and 8-5 (2019) while finishing as a state champion thrice (2016-18). The lone loss was 0-28 to No. 3 Phoenix Christian as No. 7 during the 2019 semifinals.

The Eagles are 13-8 (.619) overall, 6-2 (.750) region, and 2-2 (.500) in the post-season during two campaigns under Daniel Jones. Thatcher has averaged a 30-23 (637-487) score per game or a 7-point margin during the same span.

Last season, the Eagles finished 8-4 (.666) overall and 3-1 (.750) for 2nd in the region, averaging a 33-21 (396-254) score per game or a 12-point margin. The No. 2 Snowflake Lobos ended the No. 10 Eagles’ season with a 13-44 state meet quarterfinal loss.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Running exact pass routes and concentration allowed offensive plays to advance the ball.

Thatcher opens in Eagar against Round Valley (Aug. 19) before welcoming Mesa Eastmark (Aug. 26) and Pima (Sept. 2) to John Mickelson Field. The Eagles visit Safford (Sept. 16), host Tucson Pusch Ridge Christian (Sept. 23), visit Tucson Sahuaro (Sept. 30), host Benson (Oct. 7), visit Coolidge (Oct. 14), host Tucson Sabino (Oct. 21), and visit Tucson Palo Verde Magnet (Oct. 28) for the regular season finale.

Morenci Wildcats

Morenci is 203-160 during 40 seasons (1982-2021) since switching to a 2A school, averaging a 22-16 (8,067-5,943) score per game or a 6-point margin while facing 57 different opponents.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: The Eagles and Wildcats both enjoyed success in their previous meeting last month, executing offensive and defensive plays against each other.

The Wildcats are 22-12 (.647) overall, 9-5 (.643) region, and 4-3 (.571) in the post-season during three seasons under Joseph Garcia. Morenci has averaged a 27-15 (930-499) score per game or an 8-point margin during his tenure.

Last season, the Wildcats finished 11-3 (.786) overall and 4-1 (.800) for 2nd in the region, averaging a 33-15 (467-214) score per game or an 18-point margin. The No. 4 Wildcats ended as state runners-up to the No.2 Phoenix Arizona Lutheran Coyotes with a 14-28 loss.

Morenci welcomes Scottsdale Christian (Aug. 19) and Tucson Tanque Verde (Aug. 26) to Lawson Stadium before visiting Safford (Sept. 2). The Wildcats host Willcox (Sept. 16), visit Tombstone (Sept. 23), host Globe (Sept. 30), visit San Tan Charter (Oct. 7), Miami (Oct. 14), and San Carlos (Oct. 21) prior to the regular season home finale with Pima (Oct. 28).