Wildcats renew series with Tanque Verde Hawks on Friday

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci made its 2022 season debut with a 32-member squad running through an inflatable tunnel for the opener. The Wildcats prevailed 30-6 over the Scottsdale Christian Eagles on Aug. 19. There is no inclement weather forecast for the home game with Tucson Tanque Verde on Friday, Aug, 26.

Fort Thomas hosts Duncan, Pima hosts Safford, Thatcher hosts Eastmark

By Raymundo Frasquillo

MORENCI – The Joseph Garcia-coached Morenci Wildcats welcome Tucson Tanque Verde on Friday, Aug. 26 for a 7 p.m. kickoff. The forecast calls for sunshine all day long. The pairing is the season opener for the Hawks. They are making their third trip to Lawson Stadium, having succumbed 0-54 in 2012 and 6-48 in 2013.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci concludes the first-day practice session of the week by running sprints. Linemen Andrew Chavez, Jarel Diaz, Austin Nelson, Yedidia Luputa, and Ryan Biggs precede the backs and receivers.

The Wildcats are 4-0 overall versus the Hawks, averaging a score of 49-10 (196-41) per game from 2011-14. Those four Tucson teams went a combined 6-34 (.150) while Morenci was 32-14 (.696) during the same span.

Since then, Tanque Verde has posted a combined record of 21-42 (.333), 3-7 (2015, 2016, 2018), 2-8 (2017), 0-10 (2019), 3-0 (2020), and 7-3 (2021). The most recent two seasons were in the 2A class with all 10 wins coming against teams going a combined 17-57 (.230), none with a winning overall record.

In the same span, the Wildcats were 50-29 (.633), with individual finishes of 6-4 (2015), 5-6 (2016), 8-4 (2017), 9-3 (2018), 4-7 (2019), 7-2 (2020), and 11-3 (2021). Morenci’s most recent two seasons had 18 wins, eight against teams ending with winning records and finishing a combined 58-23 (.716) overall.

Last season, Tanque Verde ended 7-3 (.700) overall and 3-1 (.750) for 2nd in the region, averaging a 27-17 (272-166) score per game or a 10-point margin. The No. 15 Hawks were kept out of the playoffs by automatic qualifiers No. 21 Glendale Trivium Prep and No. 22 Teec Noc Pos Red Mesa. Trivium Prep fell 20-61 to No. 2 Arizona Lutheran and Red Mesa 14-69 to No. 1 Parker.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Game Day head cook Don Goodman prepares the grill for the evening entrees.

Morenci finished 11-3 (.786) overall and 4-1 (.800) for 2nd in the region, averaging a 33-15 (467-214) 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.

Garcia is not taking the Hawks lightly, telling the Wildcats the game will be a much tougher one than the 30-6 win over Scottsdale Christian was.

A 32-member Morenci squad made its debut last week, comprised of 12 seniors and 12 juniors, five sophomores, and three freshmen. There are 21 lettermen with eight seniors earning three letters, nine juniors with two letters, and a senior, junior, and two sophomores with one letter.

Three-year lettermen include seniors Dillen Aker, Gavin Baca, Patrick Chavez, Rick Funari, Gabriel Hernandez, Daylen Johnson, Jalen Kitcheyan, and Derek Saenz; two-year lettermen are juniors Ryan Biggs, Michael Casillas, Andrew Chavez, Tristen Sanchez, and Donovan Vozza; and one-year lettermen are senior Jarel Diaz, junior John Provencio, and sophomores Peyton Basteen and Yedidia Luputa.

The rest of the roster includes seniors Tyler Aguilera, Blaze Brown, and Tony Campbell; juniors Javier Hernandez and Bradley Weiss; sophomores Xavier Fernandez, Christopher Lopez, and Marcus Lucero; and freshmen Julien Aragon, Isaiah Cook, and Derick Lytle.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: The 12th man was in the house for Morenci’s season opener against Scottsdale Christian on Aug. 19. Sitting under an umbrella are senior Celina Manuz, junior Kay’Leigh Blair, and senior Isabela Seballos. There is seating for 1,180 individuals on the home stands.

Since switching to a 2A school, Morenci is 203-160 (.559) during 40 seasons from 1982-2021, averaging a 22-16 (8,067-5,943) score per game or a 6-point margin while facing 57 different opponents.

Other pairings for Morenci’s 2022 opponents have 0-1 Scottsdale Christian at 1-0 Laveen Heritage, 1-0 Safford (Sept. 2) at 0-0 Pima (Oct. 28), 0-0 Willcox (Sept. 16) hosting 1-0 Gilbert Christian, 0-1 Tombstone (Sept. 23) idle, 0-0 Globe (Sept. 30) at 0-0 Tucson Santa Rita, 1-0 Gilbert San Tan Charter (Oct. 7) at 0-1 Phoenix Veritas Prep, 0-1 Miami (Oct. 14) hosting 0-0 Chandler Prep, and 0-0 San Carlos (Oct. 21) hosting 0-0 Phoenix NFL Yet.

The 6-member 2A Salt Region includes Morenci, Pima, Globe, Miami, Gilbert San Tan Charter, and San Carlos.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci Pride Band senior Isaiah Aguilera juggles his drumsticks as freshman percussionist Margarita Aguilera looks on while both play.

Last week’s results had Safford 27-20 over Phoenix Christian, Tombstone falling 16-20 to Benson, and San Tan Charter 46-21 over Miami. Globe, Pima, San Carlos, and Willcox were idle.

Around the area, 0-1 Fort Thomas (0-1, 0-1) hosts Duncan (0-1, 0-0) in a 1A South Region pairing and Thatcher (1-0, 0-0) hosts Mesa Eastmark (1-0, 0-0).

The 3A South Region has Safford and Thatcher along with Benson and Tucson schools Palo Verde Magnet, Pusch Ridge Christian Academy, and Sabino, while the 1A South Region has Duncan, Fort Thomas, Elfrida Valley Union, Kearny Ray, San Manuel, and Saint David.

Last week, Baboquivari (1-0, 1-0) defeated Fort Thomas 50-6 in Sells, Lordsburg (1-0, 0-0) defeated Duncan 38-14 in New Mexico, and Thatcher defeated Round Valley (0-1, 0-0) 42-14 in Eager.