Wildcats head for the home of the Braves on Friday

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Michael Casillas (7) takes advantage of teammates’ blocks to score five touchdowns against Miami on Oct. 14. The Morenci junior averaged 9.7 (20-194) yards per carry. Morenci prevailed 49-6 over the Vandals and heads to the home of the Braves in San Carlos for a fourth region contest Friday, Oct. 21.

By Raymundo Frasquillo

SAN CARLOS – The Joseph Garcia-coached Morenci Wildcats head to the home of the Braves on Friday, Oct. 21. San Carlos is No. 40 (1-6 overall, minus 16.9124 rating, 0-3 Salt Region for 6th of six) while Morenci (8-0, 18.8448, 3-0 region) remains top-ranked of 46 2A teams.

The Wildcats are 13-0 versus the Braves since 1995, averaging a 55-5 (650-67) score per game or a 45-point margin. Morenci is 7-0 against the Braves in San Carlos with a 53-5 (371-32) average score per game, or a 48-point margin. The previous meeting in 2017 (Sept. 29) resulted in a 65-6 Morenci win in San Carlos.

Other Friday games for Morenci’s 2022 opponents are Scottsdale Christian (6-2) hosts Scottsdale Coronado (0-8), Tanque Verde (4-4) visits Tombstone (3-5), Safford (3-5) visits Benson (5-3), Willcox (6-2) hosts Tucson Catalina (1-7), San Tan Charter (5-3) hosts Globe (3-5), and Miami (5-3) visits Pima (7-1).

San Carlos Braves

Last season, the Braves finished 1-6 overall, 6th (0-5) in the region, averaging a 9-45 (60-312) score per game or a 36-point deficit under Paul Fine. San Carlos posted 0-3 home and 1-3 road marks. The No. 40 Braves did not qualify for the 2021 post-season.

In the previous 10 seasons (2011-20), the Braves went 11-77 (.125) overall, averaging an 11-44 (927-3,882) score per game or a 33-point deficit. San Carlos was 4-39 (.093) at home and 7-38 (.156) on the road. There were no post-season games.

San Carlos went 37-114 (.387) during 11 seasons (2008-18) under Shawn Pietila and 0-9 during a season (2019) under Curtis Nevarez.

This season, San Carlos (5-2, 1-1) has a win of 36-20 over Sanders Valley (Sept. 16). The losses are 8-50 to Phoenix NFL Yet (Aug. 26), 0-44 to Surprise Highland Prep (Sept. 2), 16-38 to Whiteriver Alchesay (Sept. 22), 0-54 to Pima (Sept. 30), 0-62 to Miami (Oct. 7), and 0-44 to Globe (Oct. 14). The Braves are 1-2 (.333) at home, 0-4 on the road, and have averaged a 9-45 (60-312) score per game or a 36-point deficit.

San Carlos has totaled 992 offensive yards, averaging 4.4 (181-974) rushing and 3.0 (6-18) passing after seven games. Return yards are 195.

Defensively, four quarterback sacks, seven fumble recoveries, and three interceptions have been posted.

The Braves finish the regular season at San Tan Charter (Oct. 28).

Morenci Wildcats

Last season, Morenci finished 11-3 (.786) overall and 4-1 (.800) for 2nd in the region, averaging a 33-15 (462-214) score per game or an 18-point margin. The No. 4 Wildcats ended as state runners-up to the No.2 Phoenix Arizona Lutheran Coyotes with a 14-28 loss. Morenci reached the final with a first-round forfeit by No. 13 Whiteriver Alchesay, a 35-23 quarterfinal win over No. 5 Gilbert Christian, and a 39-14 semifinal win over No. 1 Parker.

During the previous 10 seasons (2011-20), the Wildcats went 71-40 (.640) overall, averaging a 29-19 (3,202-2,163) score per game or a 10-point margin. Morenci was 34-15 (.694) at home and 37-25 (.597) on the road. The post-season games numbered 16, qualifying during 9-10 seasons, and capped by a runner-up finish in 2012.

Morenci went 37-18 (.673) during five seasons (2009-13) under Frank Ogas Sr., 16-15 (.516) during three seasons (2014-16) under Gary Sandoval, and 17-7 (.708) during two seasons (2017-18) under David Gallegos.

The Wildcats are 22-12 (.647) overall, 9-5 (.643) region, and 4-3 (.571) in the post-season during three seasons (2019-21) under Joseph Garcia. Morenci has averaged a 27-15 (930-499) score per game or an 8-point margin during his tenure.

Morenci (8-0) has wins of 30-6 over 6-2 Scottsdale Christian (Aug. 19), 44-0 over 4-4 Tanque Verde (Aug. 26), 44-0 over 3-5 Safford (Sept. 2), 21-14 over 6-2 Willcox (Sept. 16), 56-0 over 3-5 Tombstone (Sept. 23), 56-0 over 3-5 Globe (Sept. 30), 64-13 over 5-3 San Tan Charter (Oct. 7), and 49-6 over 5-3 Miami (Oct. 14), averaging a 46-5 (364-38) score per game or a 41-point margin. The opponents’ combined records are 35-29 (.547).

A total of 3,042 offensive yards, with an average of 9.4 (278-2,605) rushing and 17.5 (25-437) passing, have been amassed by the Wildcats during eight games. Return yards are 482.

Defensively, 50 quarterback sacks, 13 fumble recoveries, and 10 interceptions have been notched.

The Wildcats’ regular season home finale is a rendezvous with No. 2 Pima (Oct. 28), in region play.

Last Week

Last week for Morenci’s 2022 opponents, Scottsdale Christian (6-2) defeated Phoenix Valley Lutheran (3-4) 49-8, Tanque Verde (4-4) shutout Bisbee (3-5) 57-0, Safford (3-5) downed Payson (5-3) 26-21, Willcox (6-2) defeated Tombstone (3-5) 49-8, Globe (3-5) blanked San Carlos (1-6) 44-0, and San Tan Charter (5-3) fell 27-67 to Pima (7-1).

2A Salt Region

The Morenci Wildcats are 8-0 overall and 3-0 in the region, the Pima Roughriders (7-1, 3-0), the San Tan Charter Roadrunners (5-3, 1-2), the Miami Vandals (5-3, 1-2), the Globe Tigers (3-5, 1-2), and the San Carlos Braves (1-6, 0-3).

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: The Wildcats lined up against Miami and executed their plays to the sum of 450 offensive yards.

Thus far in region play, San Tan Charter defeated Miami 46-21 on Aug. 19; Morenci blanked Globe 56-0, and Pima shutout San Carlos 54-0 on Sept. 30; and Morenci defeated San Tan Charter 64-13, Miami shutout San Carlos 62-0, and Pima blanked Globe 49-0 on Oct. 7; Globe blanked San Carlos 44-0, Morenci downed Miami 49-6, and Pima defeated San Tan Charter 57-27 on Oct. 14.

The remaining region games include Miami at Globe, Pima at Morenci, and San Carlos at San Tan Charter on Oct. 28.

This week’s 2A statewide rankings have Morenci No. 1 (18.8448) of 46 teams, Pima No. 2 (15.9182), San Tan Charter No. 9 (5.0761), Miami No. 13 (1.6174), Globe No. 29 (minus 8.5787), and San Carlos No. 40 (minus 16.9124).

The initial rankings released on Sept. 27 listed Morenci as No. 1 (17.8142 rating) of 47 teams, Pima as No. 2 (15.7033), San Tan Charter as No. 8 (7.4435), Miami No. 14 (2.6749), Globe No. 33 (minus 11.2189), and San Carlos No. 38 (minus 13.9924).

2A San Pedro Region

The Willcox Cowboys are 6-2 overall and 3-0 in the region, the Tucson Tanque Verde Hawks (4-4, 3-0), the Bisbee Pumas (3-5, 1-2), the Tombstone Yellow Jackets (3-5, 1-2), the Tucson Catalina Trojans (1-7, 1-2), and the Tucson Santa Rita Eagles (0-8, 0-3).

Region games this week (Oct. 14) include Tanque Verde at Bisbee, Tombstone at Willcox, and Santa Rita forfeiting to Catalina.

In region play to date, Willcox defeated Bisbee 35-22, Tombstone defeated Catalina 48-0, and Santa Rita forfeited to Tanque Verde on Sept. 30; and Bisbee defeated Tombstone 30-16, Tanque Verde shutout Catalina 54-0, and Santa Rita forfeited to Willcox on Oct. 7; and Santa Rita forfeited to Catalina, Tanque Verde blanked Bisbee 57-0, and Willcox defeated Tombstone 49-8.

Raymundo Frasquillo File Photo/Gila Herald: Willcox junior quarterback Kash Macumber turns to handoff the ball to senior Cristian Pando (10) as senior linemen Mikey Martinez (70) and Evann Truschke (56) along with senior backs Seth Verdugo (23) and Ayden Fuentes (7) move to block for him. The Cowboys entered Lawson Stadium with over 1,000 rushing yards and an average of 11.0 yards per carry but were limited to 8.7 yards fewer. However, Willcox remains in first place in the 2A San Pedro Region.

The remaining region pairings are Bisbee at Catalina, Willcox at Tanque Verde, and Santa Rita forfeited to Tombstone on Oct. 28.

This week’s rankings have Willcox No. 5 (11.6224), Tanque Verde No. 19 (minus 1.7095), Bisbee No. 23 (minus 5.0715), Tombstone No. 25 (minus 5.6032), Catalina No. 44 (minus 24.1630), and Santa Rita no longer on the list.

The initial rankings listed Willcox No. 6 (11.6858 rating), Tombstone No. 19 (minus 1.4195), Bisbee No. 20 (minus 2.2248), Tanque Verde No. 23 (minus 3.7219), Santa Rita No. 43 (minus 16.6345), and Catalina No. 45 (minus 21.1286).

3A South Region

The Thatcher Eagles are 8-0 overall and 3-0 in the region, the Tucson Pusch Ridge Christian Lions (7-1, 2-1), the Tucson Sabino Sabercats (6-2, 2-1), the Benson Bobcats (5-3, 1-2), the Safford Bulldogs (3-5, 1-2), and the Tucson Palo Verde Magnet Titans (2-6, 0-3).

Region pairings this week (Oct. 21) are Sabino visiting Thatcher, Pusch Ridge visiting Palo Verde Magnet, and Benson visiting Safford.

Last week, Thatcher defeated Coolidge 56-20, Pusch Ridge defeated Chandler Valley Christian 52-20, Mesa Eastmark defeated Sabino 56-19, Benson defeated Phoenix Christian 42-28, Safford defeated Payson 26-21, and Palo Verde Magnet was shutout 0-49 by Tempe.

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: The Thatcher Eagles run onto the field at Sahuaro High School. The Eagles are undefeated and ranked number 1 in the 3A conference.

In region games already played, Pusch Ridge blanked Benson 59-0, Sabino downed Palo Verde Magnet 55-6, and Thatcher defeated Safford 40-2 on Sept. 16; Sabino 68-14 over Safford, Thatcher 28-15 over Pusch Ridge, and Benson 62-20 over Palo Verde Magnet on Sept. 23; Pusch Ridge 41-20 over Sabino on Sept. 30; and shutouts were posted by Thatcher over Benson (51-0) and Safford over Palo Verde Magnet (59-0) on Oct. 7.

The remaining region games include Thatcher at Palo Verde Magnet, Safford at Pusch Ridge, and Benson at Sabino on Oct. 28.

This week’s 3A rankings have Thatcher No. 1 (24.8167), Pusch Ridge No. 3 (21.1352), Sabino No. 6 (11.3195), Benson No. 11 (6.0119), Safford No. 23 (0.4342), and Palo Verde Magnet No. 36 (minus 12.9499).

The initial rankings listed Thatcher as No. 1 (23.9705 rating) of 38 teams, Pusch Ridge as No. 3 (16.9552), Sabino as No. 5 (14.8415), Benson as No. 10 (7.7707), Safford as No. 30 (minus 2.8231), and Palo Verde Magnet No. 34 (minus 6.8683).

Morenci – 49, Miami – 6

The Wildcats led 20-0 at halftime and 42-0 heading into the fourth quarter. A running clock was in effect before the visiting Vandals crossed the goal line, with 3:20 left to play.

Miami received the opening kick and punted during four of its five first-half possessions, thrice going 3-and-out. A fumble resulted after two plays losing five yards during the second possession. The Vandals punted on 4th-and-23 after losing 13 yards, on 4th-and-39 after gaining 21 yards in nine plays, on 4th-and-13 after losing three yards, and on 4th-and-10 after gaining no yards. The total yardage gained in 20 plays was zero.

Morenci also had five first-half possessions, entering the end zone on its first three by covering 41 yards in four plays, 25 yards in two plays, and 76 yards in eight plays; turned the ball over on downs after gaining 31 of 49 yards in nine plays; and missed a 24-yard field goal attempt after five plays gaining 40 of 54 yards. The total yardage gained in 28 plays was 211.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Daylen Johnson (1) advanced the ball and averaged 11.4 (5-57) yards per carry against Miami. Although not crossing the goal line against the Vandals, the Morenci senior directed an offense that scored seven touchdowns.

Junior Michael Casillas scored three touchdowns and junior Austyn Nelson added two conversion kicks. Casillas ran 29 yards on 1st-and-10 (7-0), 25 yards on 2nd-and-15 (14-0), and seven yards on 2nd-and-2 (20-0).

The Wildcats scored during four of six second-half possessions, fumbling after a play on 2nd-and-5; covering 57 yards in five plays, 20 yards in one play, 55 yards in one play, and 32 yards in four plays; and running out of time.

Casillas ran in from a yard on 1st-and-goal and Nelson added a conversion kick (27-0), senior Daylen Johnson connected with junior Tristen Sanchez for 20 yards on 1st-and-10 and Nelson added a conversion kick (34-0), sophomore Marcus Lucero ran 55 yards on 1st-and-10 and sophomore Christopher Lopez added a conversion run (42-0), and Casillas ran five yards on 1st-and-goal and Nelson added a conversion kick (49-0).

Miami twice punted, turned the ball over on downs, and fumbled before covering 78 yards in six plays during their second-half possessions. The Vandals punted after three plays losing 16 yards on 4th-and-26, turned the ball over on downs after losing 19 yards, punted after three plays gaining two yards on 4th-and-8, fumbled after a play and lost five yards, and scored.

Sophomore quarterback Abraham Castaneda connected with freshman Noah Combs for a 35-yard pass (49-6), but the conversion kick attempt was blocked.

Morenci totaled 450 offensive yards, 363 on 32 carries, and 81 on four pass receptions compared to 75 yards, minus 89 on 14 carries and 164 on 13 receptions by Miami.

Lucero averaged 55.0 (1-55) yards per carry, Johnson 11.4 (5-57) yards, Casillas 9.7 (20-194) yards, and Chavez 9.5 (6-57) yards. Johnson completed 4-6 passes for 87 yards with no interceptions. Sanchez averaged 21.8 (4-87) yards.

Defensively, 15 Wildcats totaled 58 tackles, 41 solo, and 17 assisted. Sanchez had 11 (8 solo, 3 assisted), junior Donovan Vozza six (6 solo), and junior Andrew Chavez (1 solo, 4 assisted), Lucero (3 solo, 2 assisted), and Nelson (3 solo, 2 assisted) five apiece.

Sanchez recorded 6 1/2 quarterback sacks, Vozza four, Nelson 1 1/2, and Andrew Chavez, Patrick Chavez, and sophomore Yedidia Luputa one each; Nelson and Vozza both recovered a fumble; Johnson and Sanchez both deflected two passes and Seballos one, and Johnson blocked an extra point attempt.

For Miami, senior Jaime Pena gained four yards on a carry, Castaneda lost five yards on a carry, junior Nick Curiel lost 22 yards on a carry, and senior Daniel Gutierrez Jr. lost 66 yards on 11 carries.

Castaneda completed 4-5 passes for 84 yards with no interceptions and Gutierrez 7-18 for 79 yards with no interceptions. Noah Combs averaged 27.3 (3-82) yards per catch, Castaneda 9.7 (3-29) yards, senior Lorenz Combs 9.5 (3-38) yards, and seniors Angel Pena (2-10) and Jaime Pena (1-5) 5.0 yards each.