Top-ranked Heber Mogollon defeats No. 2 Williams for 1A State Championship

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: The Wildkats gathered at mid-field for post-game comments from coaches and acknowledged the victory over Valley Union in the season finale. Duncan missed the state playoffs for the first time under third-year head coach Eric Bejarano. North Region champion Mogollon defeated runner-up Williams, 38-30 for the state 8-man title at Scottsdale Coronado on Nov. 28.

By Raymundo Frasquillo

PHOENIX – Top ranked Heber Mogollon defeated No. 2 Williams, 38-30, in the 1A State Championship game Saturday, Nov. 28. The game took place at Scottsdale Coronado High.

It was the fourth time the top two ranked teams have met for the 8-man title since 2011, the sixth time Mogollon and Williams have been finalists in the same span, and Mogollon is 15-8 and Williams 12-4 during the most recent 10 playoffs.

Williams downed No. 2 Bagdad 35-20 as No. 1 in 2019 and No. 3 Superior 57-14 as No. 4 in 2017, and fell 60-0 to No. 1 Bagdad as No. 3 in 2016. Top-ranked Pima prevailed 35-22 over No. 2 Valley Union in 2015.

Second-ranked Mogollon slipped past No. 1 Bagdad 14-8 in 2014 and No. 5 Mogollon ended as runner-up to No. 3 Bagdad with a 44-20 loss in 2013.

The other three champions were No. 2 Superior 70-20 over No. 5 Winkelman Hayden in 2018, No. 4 Glendale Joy Christian 60-24 over No. 3 Pima in 2012, and No. 4 Joseph City 38-6 over No. 2 Joy Christian in 2011.

Higher seeds are 85-24 in the 8-man state playoffs, 35-5 in the quarterfinals, 13-7 in the semifinals, and 6-4 in the championship since 2011.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Sophomore Benjamin Harris follows senior Tommy Hille en route to a first down. Harris averaged 5.2 yards per carry and Hille 8.4 yards against Valley Union on Nov. 6. Each scored two rushing TDs.

North Region champion Mogollon (9-0 overall, 12.8887 rating, 5-0 region) eliminated South Region runner-up San Manuel (3-2, 2.0709, 3-1) 50-6 in the quarterfinals on Nov. 13 and West Region champion Bagdad (6-2, 7.6490, 4-0) 78-12 in the semifinals Nov. 20.

The Mustangs averaged a score of 50-3 (302-16) per game or a 47-point margin during the regular season. Mogollon topped Glendale Desert Heights Prep 46-8 (Oct. 2), Mayer 60-0 (Oct. 9), Colorado City El Capitan 48-0 (Oct. 16), Fredonia 52-0 (Oct. 24), Williams 48-8 (Oct. 30), and Joseph City 48-0 (Nov. 6).

North Region runner-up Williams (6-2, 9.1153, 3-1) ousted South Region champion Saint David (5-1, 6.2552, 3-0) 38-20 in the quarterfinals and East region champion Superior (6-1, 8.6422, 3-0) 44-26 in the semifinals.

The Vikings averaged a 53-23 (265-114) score per game or a 30-point margin during the regular season. The wins were 58-46 over Bagdad (Oct. 2), 61-6 over Joseph City (Oct. 9), 70-0 over Fredonia (Oct. 16), and 68-14 over El Capitan (Nov. 6). The regular-season loss was also to Mogollon.

Wildkats – 60, Blue Devils – 26

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Duncan spirit line members Emily Hilton, bottom, and Lexi Walker, top, cheer the Wildkats on as Duncan sophomore Benjamin Harris sprints to the end zone for the Wildkats’ final touchdown.

Duncan missed the post-season for the first time under head coach Eric Bejarano (13-11 overall, 10-4 region, 0-2 state playoffs), but the Wildkats walked off Packer Field under a barrage of fireworks following their final game. Seniors Jason McGrath and Lauren Basteen were crowned 2020 Homecoming King and Queen at halftime.

Duncan went from region champion in 2019 to 4th of five teams this season and finished below .500 (1-5), the first under the third-year head coach, but the majority of the Wildkats are expected to return for the 2021 campaign.

The Wildkats are 14-4 for homecoming games during 18 seasons in the 8-man era (2003-20), 76-76 overall, 35-25 in region, 14-13 in section, and 1-11 in state playoffs.

This season, Duncan (1-5 overall, minus 7.6896 rating, 1-3 region) was fourth in the 1A South behind Saint David (5-0, 8.2552, 3-0), San Manuel (3-1, 2.9709, 3-1), and Fort Thomas (1-3, minus 5.9320, 1-1). The Wildkats finished ahead of Valley Union (1-4, minus 8.0998, 0-3).

Duncan averaged a score of 24-38 (147-227) per game or a 14-point deficit. The Wildkats fell to non-region opponents Tempe Prep 14-28 (Oct. 2) and Chandler Lincoln Prep 22-24 (Oct. 30) as well as to South Region members San Manuel 14-46 (Oct. 9), Saint David 12-59 (Oct. 16), and Fort Thomas 22-44 (Oct. 23). The lone win was 60-26 over Valley Union (Nov. 6).

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Seniors Jason McGrath and Lauren Basteen were crowned homecoming king and queen during halftime ceremonies.

In the season finale, the Wildkats put it all together to lead 24-8 after the first quarter, 46-14 at halftime, and 52-20 heading into the fourth quarter. Duncan had three seniors, two juniors, four sophomores, and seven freshmen compared to four seniors, four juniors, nine sophomores, and six freshmen suited up four the Blue Devils.

The Wildkats netted 564 offensive yards, 387 on 70 carries, and 177 on seven receptions compared to 399, 347 on 26 carries, and 52 on five receptions by the Blue Devils.

Senior Tommy Hille averaged 8.4 (17-142) yards per carry, sophomore Benjamin Harris 5.2 (32-165) yards, senior Spencer Smith 5.0 (1-5) yards, freshman Diego Montoya 4.8 (5-24) yards, McGrath 3.6 (10-36) yards, and sophomore Emiliano Ortega 3.0 (5-15) yards. Harris and Hille both crossed the goal line twice, and McGrath, Montoya, and Smith once each for touchdowns. Harris and McGrath both added two conversion runs apiece and Hille one.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Dress-up drawing winner Russell Haught, right, shares food, drink, and sideline view with friends, from left, Hollis Haught, Kyler Crotts, and Cash Crotts. The four students viewed the homecoming football game from the comfort of a couch.

McGrath completed 6-11 passes for 177 yards. Ortega averaged 45.0 (2-90) yards per catch, Harris 39.0 (1-39) yards, and Smith 16.0 (3-48) yards. Smith scored on a pass reception.

Defensively, five Wildkats totaled five or more stops. Smith had 13 tackles (5 solo, 8 assisted), junior Austin Bigler 10 (3 solo, 7 assisted), Ortega nine (3 solo, 6 assisted), and both Montoya and sophomore Gary Najar six (2 solo, 4 assisted) apiece. Bigler, Hille, and Smith each recorded a quarterback sack. Hille recovered a fumble and returned it for a TD.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: The sky over Packer Field was lit up with fireworks following the homecoming football game win.

For the Blue Devils, senior Jake Sonke averaged 16.8 (21-353) yards per carry, junior Jesus Valenzuela 4.0 (1-4) yards, freshman Kohan Evans minus 2.3 yards on three carries, and senior Lewis Lawson minus three yards on one carry. Four touchdown runs and a conversion run were provided by Sonke.

Evan completed 4-14 passes for 52 yards, Sonke 1-1 for minus a yard, and Valenzuela was 0-1. Senior Luis Guzman averaged 18.0 (1-18) yards per catch, Lawson 16.0 (2-32) yards, sophomore Lairus Two Moons 3.0 (1-3) yards, and Valenzuela lost a yard on a reception.

Defensively, 10 Blue Devils totaled five or more tackles. Sonke had 22 tackles (12 solo, 10 assisted), sophomore Luke Essary 20 (7 solo, 13 assisted), sophomore Kolby Gilbreth and Lawson 13 (5 solo, 8 assisted) apiece, Valenzuela 11 (3 solo, 8 assisted), Guzman 10 (4 solo, 6 assisted), freshman Shad Matthews nine (4 solo, 5 assisted), junior Misael Noperi seven (3 solo, 4 assisted), Evans six (3 solo, 3 assisted), and freshman Luis Enriquez five (3 solo, 2 assisted). Valenzuela recovered a fumble.

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