Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci seniors Lance “LT” Morey (2) and PaulDaniel Moreno (33) lead the Wildcats onto the field for the start of the game. The Wildcats host Benson for the 55th homecoming game Friday, Oct. 30.
By Raymundo Frasquillo
MORENCI – The Wildcats draw the Benson Bobcats for their 55th homecoming football game Friday, Oct. 30. The Wildcats are 36-18 (1966-2019) during 54 prior games, 24-14 since switching to the 2A class in 1982. Morenci has won its most recent four games, 54-12 over San Carlos (2016), 45-0 over Miami (2017), 39-6 over New Mexico Bayard Cobre (2018), and 32-26 over Tombstone (2019).
Benson has been the homecoming opponent twice before. Morenci prevailed 40-2 in 1987 and Benson left Lawson Stadium with a 49-0 win in 2007.
The Wildcats are 17-16 overall versus Benson, averaging a 16-17 (603-610) score per game or a 1-point deficit. Morenci won 21-6 in Benson during 2018 and the Bobcats posted a 49-7 win in Lawson Stadium during 2019.
Morenci (4-0 overall, 2-0 East Region) has outscored four opponents by an average of 49-9 (194-35) or by a 40-point margin. The wins have been 76-0 over Verde Region Phoenix North Pointe Prep (Oct. 2), 21-14 over Salt Region Gilbert San Tan Charter (Oct. 9), 39-14 over East Region member Bisbee (Oct. 16), and 58-7 over East Region Tombstone (Oct. 23). The combined overall record of the four opponents is 2-13 with an average score per game of 11-42 (172-631) or a 31-point deficit.
North Point Prep (0-3, 0-1 Verde Region) has averaged a score of 5-61 (14-182) or a 56-point deficit, San Tan Charter (2-2, 2-0 Salt Region) has averaged a score of 21-26 (84-103) or a 5-point deficit, Bisbee (0-4, 0-2) has averaged a score of 13-35 (50-139) or a 22-point deficit, and Tombstone (0-4, 0-2) has averaged a score of 5-61 (14-182) or a 56-point deficit.
Benson brings a 3-0 record with an average score per game of 34-5 (103-16) or a 29-point margin. The Bobcats topped Verde Region Phoenix Veritas Prep 21-0 (Oct. 2), Salt Region Miami 40-16 (Oct. 9), and Bisbee 42-0 (Oct. 23). The region game with Pima (Oct. 16) was a victim of the global health crisis.
Veritas Prep (2-2, 0-1) has averaged a score of 32-12 (133-48) or a 20-point margin, Miami (2-1, 0-1) has averaged a score of 28-19 (83-56) or a 9-point margin, and Bisbee (0-4, 0-2) has averaged a score of 13-35 (50-139) or a 22-point deficit.
“They (Benson Bobcats) will be the toughest challenge we have faced,” cautioned second-year Morenci Head Coach Joseph Garcia. “Our 4-0 record doesn’t mean a thing. We need to focus, work hard, and do the things we need to do.”
The Wildcats have opened the season with four wins five previous times during 20 seasons (2000-19) of the 21st Century. Morenci lost the fifth game thrice, under Kelly Moore in 2000, finishing 6-3, and under Frank Ogas in 2009 (6-4) and 2010 (4-5). The 2001 (11-1) version under Moore won 11 in a row and the 2012 (13-1) team went 13-0 under Ogas before falling.
Only three teams opened with four consecutive wins during 34 seasons (1966-1999) of the 19th Century’s homecoming games. The Wildcats went 10-0 under Clifford Martin III in 1975 (10-1) plus 8-0 under Reynaldo Peru in 1992 (11-2) and 5-0 under Peru in 1993 (8-3).
The other East Region pairings are Willcox (2-0, 2-0) at Bisbee (0-3, 0-2) and Pima (0-2, 0-1) at Tombstone (0-4, 0-2).
Last week, Morenci downed Tombstone 58-7, Willcox slipped past Pima 13-12, and Benson blanked Bisbee 42-0.
Wildcats – 58, Yellow Jackets – 7
The Yellow Jackets brought a roster of seven seniors, three juniors, three sophomores, and 13 freshmen to Lawson Stadium. They punted after three plays six times in the first half before running out of time after a play on their seventh possession, trailing 44-0 and playing with a running clock. Tombstone gained 15 first-half yards.
Tombstone was intercepted following a 5-yard penalty plus a 5-yard gain and punted after five plays in the third quarter. The fourth quarter had a sustained 12-play, 63-yard scoring drive plus conversion kick. Senior Brandon Redenbo connected with classmate Nick Campbell for a 4-yard pass. Senior Zeke Esparza added the conversion kick. The Yellow Jackets netted 81 second-half yards.
On the other side of the field, the host Wildcats scored during six of seven first-half possessions using no more than three plays at a time and led 44-0 with 1:36 left in the half. The yardage gained was 338.
Morenci covered 65 yards in three plays using 1:07, 30 yards in two plays using 1:50, 35 yards in three plays using 1:33 during the first quarter; was intercepted after netting 18 yards in two plays, and marched 55 yards in three plays using 1:32, 70 yards in two plays using 33 seconds, and 65 yards in two plays using 1:52; and a safety was recorded on defense during the second quarter.
Senior Lance “LT” Morey ran 59 yards on 3rd-and-four and classmate PaulDaniel Moreno added a conversion run (8-0), sophomore Daylen Johnson connected with freshman Tristan Sanchez on 1st-and-goal from the five and senior Brenden Enriquez added his first of six conversion kicks (15-0), and Johnson connected with sophomore Derek Saenz on 2nd-and-12 from the 22 and Enriquez added the conversion kick (22-0).
The Wildcats were intercepted on 3rd-and-5 after gaining 18 yards to start the second quarter, freshman Michael Casillas ran in on 1st-and-10 from the 20 and Enriquez added the conversion kick (29-0), junior Gavin Baca blocked a punt and was credited with a safety (31-0), Johnson connected with junior Tony Roybal 1st-and-10 from the 35 and Enriquez added the conversion kick (38-0), and Enriquez made his way into the end zone on 1st-and-10- from the 36 (44-0). The conversion kick was blocked.
In the second half, a defensive touchdown was added, a 90-yard drive resulted in a TD after three plays, and time ran out after two plays.
Roybal pulled down a Tombstone aerial and returned it 41 yards and Enriquez added the conversion kick (51-0), and sophomore Dillen Aker sprinted 75 yards on 1st-and-10 and Enriquez added the conversion kick (58-0).