Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Senior three-year letterman Brendon Enriquez carries the Wildcats’ banner as he helps lead them onto the field. Morenci (3-1) welcomes Saint Johns (2-2) on Friday, Sept. 24, on the heels of a large margin win over Madison Highland Prep the previous week.
By Raymundo Frasquillo
MORENCI – The Joseph Garcia-coached Morenci Wildcats host the Mike Morgan-coached Saint Johns Redskins on Friday, Sept. 24.
Saint Johns enters Lawson Stadium with a 2-2 record and a 35-30 (138-119) average score per game or 5-point margin. The wins have been 60-7 over Globe (Sept. 3) and 55-7 over Gilbert Arete Prep (Sept. 17). The losses were 43-3 to Show Low (Aug. 27) and 62-20 to Eagar Round Valley (Sept. 9).
Morenci is 3-1 with an average score per game of 44-15 (174-58) or a 29-point margin. The Wildcats have wins of 45-12 over Maricopa Sequoia Pathway (Aug. 27), 50-0 over Globe (Sept. 10), and 72-0 over Phoenix Madison Prep (Sept. 17). The loss was 46-7 to Round Valley (Sept. 3).
The Redskins have a 6-2 record over the Wildcats, along with a 27-13 (212-102) average score per game or a 14-point margin. Morenci blanked the guests 29-0 on their 2018 visit but was shutout 49-0 in the White Mountains during the ensuing season.
Through four weeks, Morenci’s 2021 opponents are a combined 15-13 overall with San Pedro Region members being 8-5. Maricopa Sequoia Pathway is 3-1, Eagar Round Valley 4-0, Globe 0-3, Phoenix Madison Highland 1-3, Saint Johns (Sept. 24) 2-2, Bisbee (Oct. 1) 2-2, Tombstone (Oct. 8) 1-2, Benson (Oct. 15) 2-1, Willcox (Oct. 22) 4-0, and Pima (Oct. 29) 2-2.
Last week, Sequoia Pathway defeated Bisbee 30-22, Round Valley defeated Chinle 62-8, Globe was idle, Morenci defeated Madison Highland 72-0, Saint Johns defeated Gilbert Arete Prep 55-7, Tucson Tanque Verdedefeated Tombstone 54-6, Benson defeated Phoenix NFL Yet 57-0, Willcox defeated Phoenix Valley Lutheran 36-6, and Pima defeated Tucson Santa Rita 52-0.
This week, Sequoia Pathway (3-1) is at Phoenix Arizona Lutheran (4-0), Round Valley (4-0) hosts Kayenta Monument Valley (3-1), Globe (0-3) hosts Madison Highland (1-3), Saint Johns (2-2) is at Morenci (3-1), Bisbee (2-2) hosts Tucson Santa Rita (0-3), Tombstone (1-2) is at Tucson Tanque Verde (2-2), Benson (2-1) is at Phoenix Veritas Prep (2-2), Willcox (4-0) is at Phoenix North Point Prep (0-4), and Pima (2-2) hosts Scottsdale Christian (3-1).
Wildcats – 72, Heat – 0
It didn’t hurt the visitors had a team filled with young players in the process of learning a new system during its initial season in the 11-man format.
Madison Highland won the coin toss and elected to defer. The Heat had seven first half possessions, ending thrice with punts (on 4th-and-20, 4th-and-25, 4th-and-23), turned the ball over on downs once after losing 15 yards, was intercepted on second down, recovered a fumble in the end zone only to yield a safety after three plays, and ran out of time after gaining eight yards in five plays.
Morenci forced a running clock before the end of the first quarter during its initial meeting with Madison Highland Prep. All of the Wildcats suiting up received playing time. The hosts scored during their first four possessions in nine plays, and returned both a punt and an interception into touchdowns for a 43-0 advantage.
Sophomore Michael Casillas capped a 65-yard drive, three-play drive with a 35-yard run and senior Tony Roybal added a conversion run. The Wildcats led 8-0 after three offensive plays with 2:09 elapsed in the game.
The second possession resulted in a 35-yard, two-play score using 49 seconds. Tristen Sanchez turned junior Daylen Johnson’s aerial into a 22-yard touchdown. Senior Brendon Enriquez added his first of three conversion kicks for a 15-0 advantage.
Casillas capped a three-play march with a 17-yard run on the third possession. Sophomore Joseph Seballos caught the conversion pass from junior Derek Saenz. The Wildcats led 23-0 using 53 seconds to cover 27 yards.
Saenz caught Johnson’s second of three pass attempts to score a 31-yard TD in six seconds. Enriquez added the conversion kick. Morenci’s advantage was 30-0 after four possessions.
Roybal returned a punt 40 yards (36-0), junior Gavin Baca returned an interception 31 yards (42-0), and sophomore Austyn Nelson added a conversion kick (43-0).
The Wildcats added nine second quarter points with two offensive plays plus a defensive play to lead 52-0 at halftime. Senior lineman Richard Trot III tackled the quarterback recovering a fumble in the end zone for a safety (45-0). A Johnson to Roybal pass play went for a 64-yard TD and Enriquez added the conversion kick. It covered 80 yards in two plays with 6:08 left in the half.
Morenci reserves used five plays on three possessions to add 20 second-half points. Senior Demitri Briggs capped a 3-play, 45-yard drive with a 4-yard run (58-0); junior Dillen Aker scored on a 55-yard run and Saenz added a conversion run (64-0); and junior Rick Funari sprinted 32 yards for the final 72-0 score.
The visitors received the second half kickoff, and punted on 4th-and-17. The ensuing three possessions would result in a punt on 4th-and-20, a turnover on downs with an incomplete pass on 4th-and-8, and an incomplete pass on 1st-and-10 to run out of time.
For the evening, Morenci netted 360 offensive yards on16 plays, 233 on 12 rushes and 127 with four pass receptions compared to minus 74 yards, minus 74 on 13 carries plus zero on 0-15 pass attempts plus an interception for the Heat.
Aker averaged 55.0 (1-55) yards per carry, Funari 32.0 (1-32) yards, Casillas 26.0 (3-78) yards, Briggs 15.0 (3-45) yards, Johnson 13.0 (1-13) yards, and junior Patrick Chavez 10.0 (2-20) yards; Roybal averaged 37.0 (2-74) yards per catch, Saenz 1-31, and Sanchez 1-22; and Johnson completed 4-5 passes for 127 yards with no interceptions.
Defensively, 17 different Wildcats notched at least one tackle. Senior Kaden Summer and Funari both totaled four tackles (2 solo, 2 assisted) apiece, and both Seballos (1 solo, 2 assisted) and Trott (2 solo, 1 assisted) three each. Baca had a quarterback sack, and both sophomore Andrew Chavez Trott half of one; Trott III recovered a fumble, Summer caused a fumble; and Baca intercepted a pass.
For the visitors, sophomores Joseph Luno had minus 40 yards on six carries and Joshua Hutchins minus 34 yards on six carries. Luno completed zero of 15 pass attempts with an interception.