Wildcats take on Roadrunners in Gilbert on Friday

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci defensive huddle has teammates reviewing individual assignments before breaking up. The Wildcats blanked Globe 56-0 during the schools’56th homecoming game on Sept. 30.Morenci heads to Gilbert for a region game with San Tan Charter Oct. 7.

By Raymundo Frasquillo

GILBERT – Morenci ventures where it has not been before this season. The Wildcats take on San Tan Charter in Gilbert on Friday, Oct. 7. It will be only the second meeting of the programs, the first in 2020 (Oct. 9)resulted in a 21-14 Morenci road win.

The Salt Region pairing is with a once-beaten opponent, usingpredominantly a passing attack, with seven receivers averaging 10.4 yards per catch, or enough to move the chains with each catch. Twice before the opponents, Scottsdale Christian and Willcox were undefeated when facing the Wildcats.

Rankings released Oct. 4 list Morenci No. 1 (16.0854) and San Tan Charter No. 9 (7.3562). The Wildcats have a minus 0.5522 opponent rating while the Roadrunners’ combined opponents are at minus 4.1132. Morenci’s six opponents are 16-20 (.444) overall while San Tan Charter’s are 12-26 (.316).

Other games on Friday for Morenci’s 2022 opponents, Scottsdale Christian (4-2) visits Phoenix Veritas Prep (2-5), Tanque Verde (2-4) visits Tucson Santa Rita (0-6), Safford (1-5) hosts Tucson Palo Verde Magnet (2-4), Willcox (5-2) visits Bisbee (3-4), Tombstone (3-3) visits Tucson Catalina (1-6), Globe (2-4) hosts Pima (5-1), and Miami (4-2) visits San Carlos (1-4).

San Tan Charter Roadrunners

Last season, the Roadrunners finished 5-5 overall, 2nd (4-1) in the Salt Region, averaging a 37-24 (369-244) score per game or a 13-point margin. San Tan Charter went 2-3 at home and 3-2 (.167) on the road under head coach Kerry Taylor. The No. 18 Roadrunners did not qualify for the 2021 post-season.

During two seasons (2020-21) of Arizona Interscholastic Association play, the Roadrunners went 8-10 (.444) overall, averaging a 30-28 (533-504) score per game or a 2-point margin. San Tan Charter was 4-4 (.500) at home and 4-6 (.400) on the road, also under Taylor.

This season, San Tan Charter (5-1) has wins of 46-21 over 4-2 Miami(Aug. 19), 40-20 over 2-5 Phoenix Veritas Prep (Aug. 26), 53-6 over 0-6 Avondale Saint John Paul II Catholic (Sept. 9), 16-7 over 2-4 Tanque Verde (Sept. 16), and 30-0 over 0-6 Scottsdale Coronado (Sept. 23). The loss was 33-56 to 4-3 Queen Creek San Tan Foothills (Sept. 2). The Roadrunners have averaged a 36-18 (218-110) score per game or an 18-point margin. The opponents’ combined records are 12-26 (.316).

San Tan Charter has totaled 1,982 offensive yards, averaging 7.0 (130-908) rushing and 15.3 (70-1,074) passing after six games. Return yards are 296.

Defensively, five quarterback sacks and two interceptions have been posted.

The Roadrunners visit Pima (Oct. 14), host Globe (Oct. 21) and San Carlos (Oct. 28) to close out the regular season.

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 (6-0) has wins of 30-6 over 4-2 Scottsdale Christian (Aug. 19), 44-0 over 2-4 Tanque Verde (Aug. 26), 44-0 over 1-5 Safford (Sept. 2), 21-14 over 4-2 Willcox (Sept. 16), 56-0 over 3-3 Tombstone (Sept. 23),and 56-0 over 2-4 Globe (Sept. 30), averaging a 42-3 (251-20) score per game or a 39-point margin. The opponents’ combined records are 16-20(.444).

A total of 2,208 offensive yards, with an average of 8.8 (213-1,870) rushing and 17.8 (19-338) passing, have been amassed by the Wildcatsduring six games. Return yards are 334.

Defensively, 24.5 quarterback sacks and seven interceptions have been notched.

The Wildcats host Miami (Oct. 14) and visit San Carlos (Oct. 21) prior to the regular season home finale with Pima (Oct. 28), all in region play.

Week 5 Results:

Last week, Scottsdale Christian (4-2) defeated Phoenix Veritas Prep (2-5) 30-22, Tanque Verde (2-4) received a forfeit win from Tucson Santa Rita (0-6), Safford (1-4) was idle, Willcox (4-2) defeated Bisbee (2-4) 35-22, Tombstone (3-3) blanked Tucson Catalina (0-6) 48-0, San Tan Charter (5-1) was idle, Miami (4-2) was idle, and Pima (5-1) shutout San Carlos (1-4) 54-0.

2A Salt Region

Through six weeks of competition, the Morenci Wildcats are 6-0 overall and 1-0 in the region, the Pima Roughriders (5-1, 1-0), the San Tan Charter Roadrunners (5-1, 1-0), the Miami Vandals (4-2, 0-1), the Globe Tigers (2-4, 0-1), and the San Carlos Braves (1-4, 0-1).

This week in region play Oct. 7, Pima visits Globe, Miami visits San Carlos, and Morenci visits San Tan Charter.

Last week, Morenci blanked Globe 56-0 and Pima shutout San Carlos 54-0.

Also in region play, San Tan Charter defeated Miami 46-21 in the season opener Aug. 19.

Remaining region games include Miami at Morenci, San Carlos at Globe, and San Tan Charter at Pima on Oct. 14; Globe at San Tan Charter, Miami at Pima, and Morenci at San Carlos on Oct. 21; and Miami at Globe, Pima at Morenci, and San Carlos at San Tan Charter on Oct. 28.

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

Week two rankings have Morenci No. 1 (16.0854) of 46 teams, Pima No. 2 (13.9383), San Tan Charter No. 9 (7.3562), Miami No. 11 (3.8539), Globe No. 34 (minus 11.2483), and San Carlos No. 38 (minus 14.8782).

2A San Pedro Region

The Willcox Cowboys are 5-2 overall and 2-0 in the region, the Tombstone Yellow Jackets (3-3, 1-0), the Tucson Tanque Verde Hawks (2-4, 1-0), the Bisbee Pumas (3-4, 1-1), the Tucson Catalina Trojans (1-6, 0-1), and the Tucson Santa Rita Eagles no longer listed.

Region games this week (Oct. 7) include Bisbee at Tombstone, Catalina at Tanque Verde, and Santa Rita forfeited to Willcox.

In region play Sept. 30, Willcox defeated Bisbee 35-22, Tombstone defeated Catalina 48-0, and Santa Rita forfeited to Tanque Verde.

Remaining region pairings are Tanque Verde at Bisbee, Tombstone at Willcox, and Santa Rita forfeited to Catalina on Oct. 14; Catalina at Willcox, Tanque Verde at Tombstone, Santa Rita forfeited to Bisbee on Oct. 21; and Bisbee at Catalina, Willcox at Tanque Verde, and Santa Rita forfeited to Tombstone on Oct. 28.

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).

Week two rankings have Willcox No. 5 (11.0458), Tombstone No. 21 (minus 2.4139), Bisbee No. 26 (minus 4. 8730), Tanque Verde No. 25(minus 4.7653), Catalina No. 44 (minus 21.7978), and Santa Rita no longer on the list.

3A South Region

The Thatcher Eagles are 6-0 overall and 2-0 in the region, the TucsonPusch Ridge Christian Lions (6-1, 1-1), the Tucson Sabino Sabercats (5-1, 2-1), the Benson Bobcats (4-2, 1-1), the Safford Bulldogs (1-5, 0-2), and the Tucson Palo Verde Magnet Titans (2-4, 0-2).

This week, Thatcher hosts Benson and Safford hosts Palo Verde Magnet. Sabino hosts 2A Gila Region Maricopa Sequoia Pathway (3-3) and Pusch Ridge is idle.

Last weeks’ region game results were Pusch Ridge 41-20 over Sabino. Benson, Palo Verde Magnet, and Safford are idle. Thatcher defeated non-region 4A Tucson Sahuaro 58-14.

The Sept. 30 region contests resulted in Sabino 68-14 over Safford, Thatcher 28-15 over Pusch Ridge, and Benson 62-20 over Palo Verde Magnet.

Region pairings Sept. 16 resulted in wins of 59-0 for Pusch Ridge over Benson, 55-6 for Sabino over Palo Verde Magnet, and 40-2 for Thatcher over Safford.

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

The Oct. 4 rankings list Thatcher No. 1 (24.2417), Pusch Ridge No. 2 (19.7499), Sabino No. 6 (12.7264), Benson No. 12 (7.5537), Safford No. 31 (minus 3.7016), and Palo Verde Magnet No. 35 (minus 7.2508).   

Morenci – 56Globe – 0

The visiting Tigers received the opening kick and enjoyed seven additional possessions, but went three-and-out five times, wereintercepted, turned the ball over on downs, and ran out of time.

Necessary yardage to cover totaled 583 (78, 80, 61, 90, 84, 57, 78, 75). Globe wound up netting minus six yards during 27 snaps and trailed by 44 points with 17 seconds left in the first half.

Morenci crossed the goal line on six of seven first-half possessions, totaling 18 plays to cover 239 yards. The Wildcats scored from 48 yards in five plays with 3:26 elapsed, from 60 yards on a punt return with 5:34 elapsed, and from 65 yards in three plays with 8:45 elapsed in the first quarter.

unior Michael Casillas ran in from three yards out on 2nd-and-goal and senior Derek Saenz added the conversion run (8-0), sophomore Marcus Lucero returned a punt and junior Tristen Sanchez added the conversion run (16-0), and Casillas ran in from 16 yards out on 1st-and-15 and junior Austyn Nelson added the conversion kick (23-0).

Second quarter scoring was from 30 yards in two plays with 1:03 elapsed, from 64 yards in five plays with 2:53 left, and from 32 yards in two plays with 17 seconds left. 

Saenz entered the end zone from 23 yards out on 2nd-and-3 (29-0), Casillas ran in from three yards out on 1st-and-goal and senior Gavin Baca caught the conversion pass (37-0), and senior Daylen Johnson connected with Sanchez for a 28-yard touchdown and Nelson added the conversion kick (44-0).

The non-scoring fifth possession resulted in an interception on 2nd-and-8.

Morenci took possession of the second half kick on the 50 following a failed onsides attempt and used seven plays to score, a lost fumble resulted on 2nd-and-10 during its second possession, and a turnover on downs followed on its third possession.

Senior Patrick Chavez crossed in from three yards out (50-0) with 3:31 left in the third quarter and senior Rick Funari returned an interception 30 yards for the final score as the buzzer sounded.

Globe needed 80 yards on its initial second half possession, gained two yards before fumbling on 3rd-and-12, recovered a fumble on the 10 but punted on 4th-and-18, and got the ball on the 11 before throwing an interception on 3rd-and-19 from the two.

For the evening, Morenci officially walked out of Lawson Stadium totaling 332 offensive yards, 222 on 25 carries and 110 on five passreceptions compared to 18 yards, four on 22 carries and 14 on four pass receptions by Globe. The Wildcats also had 100 return yards while the tallied Tigers 50.

Saenz averaged 22.0 (1-22) yards per carry, Casillas 9.3 (11-112) yards,Chavez 8.3 (7-58) yards, freshman Dean Chee 6.0 (1-6) yards, freshman Julien Aragon 3.7 (3-11) yards, and Johnson 3.0 (1-3). 

Johnson completed 5-6 passes for 110 yards with one interception. Saenz averaged 36.0 (1-36) yards per catch, junior Joseph Seballos 25.0 (1-25) yards, Sanchez 22.5 (2-45) yards, and Baca 4.0 (1-4) yards.

Defensively, 16 Wildcats totaled 56 tackles, 38 solo and 18 assisted. Sanchez had nine (7 solo, 2 assisted), both Andrew Chavez (4 solo, 3assisted) and Nelson (3 solo, 4 assisted) both seven apiece, and Funari five (5 solo). 

Nelson, Sanchez and sophomore Yedidia Luputa recorded two quarterback sacks apiece, Andrew Chavez had one sack, and both Baca and junior Bradley Weiss had half a sack; junior Donovan Vozza recovered a fumble; and junior Emilio Roybal, Seballos, and Vozza each deflected a pass.

For Globe, junior Russell Long averaged 3.7 (3-11) yards per carry, senior Andrew Gonzales 2.4 (7-17) yards, senior Kaleb Derhammer 1-0,senior Anasco Gonzales 9-(minus 13) yards, and freshman Jaeger Franco 2-(minus 11) yards.

Sanchez completed 4-14 passes for 14 yards with one interception. Derhammer averaged 5.0 (1-5) yards per catch, senior Gabe Gonzales 3.5 (2-7) yards, and sophomore Esteban Garcia 2.0 (1-2) yards.

Defensively, 12 Tigers totaled 32 tackles, 18 solo and 14 assisted. GabeGonzales had eight (7 solo, 1 assisted) and senior Aiden Curiel five (3 solo, 2 assisted). Junior Johnnie Tarango recovered a fumble.