Morenci gets a win in first game in 3A

Photo Courtesy Scott Madrid: Austyn Nelson (53) scoops up a fumble at the 4 and crosses the goal line for the game’s only score. Morenci defeated ALA-Ironwood 6-0 on Friday.

Wildcats defeat Warriors 6-0 

By Jon Johnson

SAN TAN VALLEY – Morenci is known as a tough mining town; that sentiment is reflected in its football team. 

The underdog, fight-to-the-end mentality is instilled in the players, and that tenacity and defensive-minded determination helped them win Friday night, 6-0 over American Leadership Academy – Ironwood in the team’s initial foray into the 3A Conference. 

Photo Courtesy Scott Madrid: Tristian Sanchez records one of his two sacks on the night.

It was a defensive battle all night, with the only score coming off a fumble recovery. With ALA-Ironwood pinned back against their own goal line in the fourth, Morenci’s Austyn Nelson scooped up a fumble at the 4-yard line and scored for the game’s only points. 

Tristian Sanchez led the defense and finished with six solo tackles, three for a loss, and two QB sacks. Derick Lytle had a big game in the secondary and finished with eight solo tackles and an interception. Chris Lopez also had an interception for Morenci’s third takeaway. 

While the offense only mustered 179 total yards of offense (156 yards rushing, 23 yards passing), the stingy defense was enough to carry the team through its opener. 

Photo Courtesy Scott Madrid: Donovan Vozza (9) pressures ALA-Ironwood quarterback Jett Brewster (4).

After being 2A Conference Runner-ups for two consecutive years, the Morenci Wildcats were moved up to join Thatcher and Safford in the 3A Conference this year. And after one game the Wildcats stand atop the 3A South along with Safford and Sabino, who also won their season openers on Friday. Thatcher fell on the road to Paradise Honors in Surprise, and the Tucson Pusch Ridge Lions have yet to start their season.

It won’t get any easier for Morenci as they next go on the road up to Eagar to battle a tough Round Valley Elks team in the dome. The game will be Friday, Aug. 25, starting at 7 p.m. The game will be the season-opener for the Elks in the 3A East Region.