Wildcats head for historic Warren Ball Park

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci assistant coach Benji Morales indicates the play he wants executed during a recent practice session. The scout team runs the plays of an opponent in preparation for the next game. Studying the play are, from left, freshmen Austyn Nelson, Joseph Seballos, and Emilio Roybal, senior PaulDaniel Moreno, freshman Andrew Chavez, senior Adam Chacon, and junior Jericho Sanchez.

By Raymundo Frasquillo

BISBEE – The Wildcats will be taking on the Bisbee Pumas in historic Warren Ball Park on Friday, Oct. 16. The teams have met 43 times in the previous 75 seasons (1945-2019) with Bisbee holding a 22-20-1 overall edge and is 12-9-1 at home. The Pumas have averaged a 19-18 (804-780) score per game or a 1-point margin in the same span.

There have been only five meetings in the previous decade (2010-19) with Morenci having a 4-1 advantage and an average score per game of 29-17 (144-87) or a 12-point margin. The Wildcats have won the most recent two pairings, 32-26 in Lawson Stadium during 2019 and 64-20 in Warren Ball Park during 2018.

Thus far in 2020, Morenci has averaged a score of 49-7 (97-14) per game or a 42-point margin. The 2-0 Wildcats have wins of 76-0 over Verde Region Phoenix North Pointe Prep (Oct. 2) and 21-14 over Salt Region Gilbert San Tan Charter (Oct. 9).

Bisbee has averaged a score of 18-29 (36-58) per game or an 11-point deficit. The 0-2 Pumas have losses of 38-22 to Gila Region Maricopa Sequoia Pathway (Oct. 2) and 20-14 to Salt Region Globe (Oct. 9)

The other East Region member Willcox (0-0) is at Tombstone (0-2). The Benson (2-0) at Pima (0-1) pairing was canceled because of the ongoing global health crisis.

Last week’s results were Benson 40-16 over Salt Region Miami (1-1) and Sequoia Pathway (2-0) 55-0 over Tombstone. 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.

Other season opening results were Benson 21-0 over Verde Region Phoenix Veritas Prep, Verde Region Scottsdale Prep 47-17 over Tombstone, and 3A South Thatcher 26-0 over Pima on Oct. 2. The Willcox versus Safford contest fell victim to the global health crisis.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Fifth-year Morenci head football coach Joseph Garcia points out an opponent play during a video session.

Wildcats – 21Roadrunners – 14

Ahead 19-14 with 7:30 left in the fourth quarter, the Wildcats needed 65 yards to score after the hosts narrowed the deficit. Morenci gained 11 yards in three plays for a first down, but lost eight in the next three plays and punted. Senior Maddux Martinez booted the ball to the five, and the Roadrunners needed to cover 95 yards.

Morenci’s defense stiffened and forced an intentional grounding pass to have a safety awarded. Senior PaulDaniel Moreno was about to tackle the quarterback in the end zone as he released the pass to an area without receivers. The margin was raised to seven points, 21-14, with 3:43 remaining.

The Wildcats received the kickoff, gained 18 yards for a first down, but only two more in the next four plays to turn the ball over on downs.

San Tan Charter gained five yards in two plays and threw two incomplete passes to turn the ball over on downs. However, the Wildcats fumbled on first down.

Again, Morenci’s defense stepped up to keep the Roadrunners out of the end zone during the closing minute of play. The hosts gained 40-of-56 yards by completing 4-11 passes before the final buzzer sounded. Game over.

Morenci defensive linemen, junior Dominick Chavez, freshman Austyn Nelson, and junior Jericho Sanchez; sophomore defensive ends Gavin Baca and Patrick Chavez; senior linebackers Brenden Enriquez and PaulDainel Moreno; and defensive backs, junior Tony Roybal, senior Dakota Bamburg, and sophomores Daylen Johnson and Derek Saenz used their knowledge and training to keep their opponent from scoring late in the game.

Offensively, Morenci scored on one of seven first-half possessions, from 55 yards in two plays (6-0) with 6:29 left in the first quarter. Johnson connected with Martinez for a 53-yard scoring pass. The conversion run was stopped. Four punts and two turnovers on downs resulted in the other six possessions.

In three other second half possessions, Morenci turned the ball over on downs and scored twice. Johnson went in from two yards out to cap a 39-yard drive in three plays. Enriquez added the conversion kick for a 13-8 advantage with 3:04 left in the third quarter. A Johnson to Martinez 38-yard pass capped a 53-yard drive in six plays 58 seconds into the fourth quarter. The conversion run was stopped with a 19-8 advantage.

San Tan Charter took an 8-6 lead with 9:28 left in the second quarter. Freshman Zayden Neill connected with junior Dominick Jovel for a 7-yard touchdown and senior Jacob Loggins added the conversion run. Thirty-nine yards were covered in three plays during the Roadrunners’ fifth possession. Their first four ended twice in punts, an interception and a fumble. They punted twice and ran out of time during their last three. 

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Junior Tony Roybal (5) blocks as sophomore Derek Saenz (3) holds the ball for an extra point kick. Senior Brenden Enriquez made 8-11 conversion kicks in the season opener Oct. 2 and 1-1 against San Tan Charter on Oc. 9.

In the second half, the Roadrunners also turned the ball over on downs, punted, and capped a 64-yard drive with a 10-yard Neill aerial to senior Jared NeVille during their first three possessions. The conversion pass was intercepted. 

Morenci scored three touchdowns plus a conversion kick in 13 possessions versus two touchdowns plus a conversion run and yielding a safety during 14 possessions for San Tan Charter.

The Wildcats gained 246 yards, 164 on 33 carries and 82 on five receptions compared to 214 yards, 64 on 14 carries and 150 on 16 catches by the Roadrunners.

Johnson averaged 9.6 (9-86) yards per carry, Patrick Chavez 5.0 (9-45) yards, senior Lance “LT” Morey 3.0 (9-27) yards, and 1.0 yards for Enriquez (2-2), Saenz (2-2), freshman Micheal Casillas (1-1), and junior Gavin Baca (1-1).

Martinez averaged 32.5 (2-65) yards, Tony Roybal 5.5 (2-11) yards, and Morey 5.0 (1-5) yards on Johnson’s 5-7 passes for 82 yards with one interception.

Defensively, 16 Wildcats recorded tackles with Bamburg (3 solo, 5 assisted), Enriquez (1 solo, 7 assisted), and Moreno (3 solo, 5 assisted) each totaling eight, Saenz seven (4 solo, 3 assisted), and Baca four (1 solo, 4 assisted). Saenz had two interceptions and Roybal one plus a fumble recovery; Casillas, senior Adam Chacon, Patrick Chavez, and Sanchez each recorded a quarterback sack; and Moreno blocked a punt.

For the Roadrunners, Loggins averaged 5.7 (9-51) yards per carry, junior Isiah Galaviz 3.3 (3-10) yards, and junior Aden Watson 1.5 (2-3) yards. 

Neill completed 16-37 passes for 150 yards with three interceptions. Loggins averaged 29.5 (2-59) yards per catch, senior Trae Baker 10 (1-10) yards, NeVille 6.7 (10-67) yards, Javel 6.0 (2-12) yards, and freshman Dominick Dippre 2.0 (1-2) yards.

Defensively, Loggins recovered a fumble and both he and Galaviz posted a sack.

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