Wildcats Gilbert-bound for initial meeting with Roadrunners

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Senior Lance “LT” Morey (2) follows his blockers, freshman Austyn Nelson (53) and senior Maddux Martinez (88), to score the game’s initial touchdown. Morey scored twice more and averaged 30 (4-120) yards per carry. Morenci posted a 76-0 season-opening win over North Point Prep in Lawson Stadium on Oct. 2.

Morenci held Phoenix North Pointe Prep to -58 yards of total rushing in season opener

By Raymundo Frasquillo

MORENCI – The Joseph Garcia-coached Wildcats are Gilbert-bound for their initial meeting with the San Tan Charter Roadrunners on Friday, Oct. 9. The 2A Salt Region Roadrunners finished 2019 with a program-best 8-2 in a different classification.

The Wildcats’ next five games are in region play, at Bisbee (Oct. 16), versus Tombstone (Oct. 23), versus Benson (Oct. 30), at Willcox (Nov. 6), and versus Pima (Nov. 13).

Last week, Morenci shutout Verde Region Phoenix North Pointe Prep 76-0 in Lawson Stadium, while Santa Cruz blanked San Tan Charter 61-0 in Eloy.

The other East Region member pairings are Benson (1-0) hosting Salt Region Miami (1-0), Bisbee (0-1) at Salt Region Globe (0-0), and Tombstone (0-1) at Gila Region Maricopa Sequoia Pathway (1-0). Two scheduled games, Phoenix Valley Lutheran (0-1) at Willcox (0-0) and Pima (0-1) at Saint Johns (0-1) were both canceled because of the ongoing global health crisis.

In other season openers Oct. 2, Benson blanked Verde Region Phoenix Veritas Prep 21-0, Sequoia Pathway downed Bisbee 38-22, Verde Region Scottsdale Prep defeated Tombstone 47-17, and Thatcher blanked Pima 26-0. The Willcox versus Safford contest fell victim to the global health crisis.

Wildcats – 76, Falcons – 0

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci debuted a new starting offensive line and quarterback for the 2020 season. The line includes junior right tackle Jericho Sanchez, freshman right guard Austyn Nelson, senior center Adam Chacon, junior left guard Dominick Chavez, and junior left tackle Richard Trott III. The quarterback is sophomore Daylen Johnson.

Morenci has been involved in 23 previous shutouts during the most recent 10 seasons (2010-19), winning 16 and losing seven.

The 2020 season-opening final score matched the result of the Oct. 26, 2012 pairing with the Braves. The Wildcats left San Carlos with an identical 76-0 score, ending the season with a program-best 13-1 mark under five-year (37-18) head coach Frank Ogas. Morenci yielded the most points in the same span, leaving Saint Johns with a 49-0 loss in 2019.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Sophomore Alazae Munoz, one of a 24-member Morenci spirit line, helps get the home side behind the team during a cheer.

All 33 Wildcats suited up for the 2020 season opener, eight seniors, eight juniors, eight freshmen, and nine sophomores, received playing time. Reserves were “peppered in” during the second quarter and inserted for good during the third period.

If properly executed, all plays should end in a score. Senior Lance “LT” Morey went 46 yards untouched to paydirt during Morenci’s initial offensive play from scrimmage. Junior Brenden Enriquez made his first of eight successful conversion kicks to give the hosts a 7-0 advantage with 10:23 left in the opening quarter.

Morey scored a second time on first down, crossing the goal line from 61 yards out. The third Enriquez kick made it 29-0 with 4:30 left in the first quarter.

An Enriquez 33-yard run plus sophomore Derek Saenz conversion run (15-0), sophomore Daylen Johnson’s 3-yard pass to senior Maddux Martinez plus Enriquez kick (23-0), and freshman Melicio Briggs’ 16-yard fumble recovery ‘plus Enriquez kick (36-0) completed the first-quarter scoring.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci Pride Band director Roger Munoz readies his cue to the percussion section at the start of the national anthem.

Johnson’s 7-yard pass to Martinez plus Enriquez kick (43-0), freshman Tristan Sanchez’ end zone fumble recovery plus Enriquez kick (50-0), and freshman Michael Casillas’ 7-yard run (56-0) accounted for the halftime score.

Sophomore Gavin Baca also scored on the first play from scrimmage, starting the second half with a 55-yard run. The seventh Enriquez kick favored the Wildcats 63-0. A 10-yard run by Morey with 2:38 left in the third quarter made the score 69-0.

Junior Dimitri Briggs’ fourth-quarter end-zone fumble recovery plus Enriquez kick completed the scoring with 3:08 remaining.

North Point Prep received the opening kick, started on the 25-yard line, and completed a 12-yard pass for a first down. However, a bad center snap, a 2-yard loss, and an incomplete pass left the Falcons with a 4th-and-27 on the 15. The possession resulted in a punt.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci’s flag line performs during the home game with North Point Prep. Members include junior Skylar Kartchner, sophomore Gracie Murillo, senior Shandiin Spean-Austin, junior Enelia Maldonado, and senior Katryhana Smerglia. The group is under the direction of Juanita Verlander with assistance from Andrea Wilson.

The Falcons’ five other first-quarter possessions resulted in a fumble after two plays, a first down interception, a punt, a second down fumble, and a punt. Their second-quarter possessions, beginning with a running clock, ended on a turnover on downs and a second down interception.

In the second half, the visitors were intercepted on third down, punted, fumbled on second down, and ran out of time.

Morenci gained 463 yards, 414 yards on 18 rushes, and 49 on four receptions while North Point Prep had minus 23 yards, 35 on six receptions, and minus 58 on 16 rushes. Additionally, the Wildcats had 19 return yards compared to 65 for the Falcons.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci junior percussionist Elianna Cazares helps entertain during the home game. The Pride Band, playing from the all-weather track, numbered 34 for the season opener.

Baca averaged 55.0 (1-55) yards per carry, senior Dakota Bamburg 40.0 (1-40) yards, Morey 30 (4-120) yards, Dimitri Briggs 28.5 (2-57) yards, Enriquez 25.5 (2-51) yards, Kaden Summer 20 (2-40) yards, freshman Michael Casillas 11.7 (3-35) yards, sophomore Dillen Aker 5.5 (2-11) yards, and Johnson 5.0 (1-5) yards.

Johnson completed 4-5 passes for 49 yards, while Martinez averaged 12.3 (4-49) yards per catch and Tony Roybal 1-7.

Defensively, 18 Wildcats recorded a solo tackle and six had two or more. Sanchez totaled seven stops (5 solo, 2 assisted), junior Richard Trott III six (3 solo, 3 assisted), and senior Paul Daniel Moreno five (2 solo, 3 assisted). Senior Dakota Bamburg had two interceptions and Enriquez one. Melicio Briggs, Roybal, and Sanchez each recovered a fumble.

For the Falcons, junior Brayan Mendoza had zero yards on three carries, junior Quentin Simmons and sophomore James Winburn minus six yards on one carry apiece, and senior Cylar Alley minus 46 yards on 11 carries. Alley completed 6-18 passes for 35 yards with three interceptions. Senior Gabriel Chavez had three receptions for 18 yards, Simmons 2-16, and sophomore Ian Nesbitt 1-1.

A long drive awaited the Falcons following their initial pairing with the Wildcats.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Final score following Morenci versus Phoenix North Point Prep season opener.
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