Wildcats welcome Tigers for 56th homecoming game Friday

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: The honor and privilege of leading the team onto the field fell on the Chavez brothers, Andrew (54) and Patrick (13), during the previous home game. They did so during their second-half return against Willcox. Following them are, from left, Rick Funari (10), Gavin Baca (5), Austyn Nelson (53), Michael Casillas (7), Xavier Fernandez (32), and Derek Saenz (2).

By Raymundo Frasquillo

MORENCI – The Joseph Garcia-coached Morenci Wildcats welcome the Globe Tigers for the school’s 56th homecoming contest. The Sept. 30 pairing is also the first of five Salt Region games for the Wildcats. The Tigers put a 2-3 non-region overall record against their host’s 5-0 mark in Lawson Stadium, with a 7 p.m. kickoff slated.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Tombstone senior lineman Isaac Villalobos (77) carries the team banner as he led the Yellow Jackets onto Mike Hayhurst Field prior to the start of the game with Morenci. The visiting Wildcats left with a 56-0 win. Tombstone visits Tucson Catalina and Morenci hosts Globe on Friday, Sept. 30.

Rankings released Sept. 27 list Morenci No. 1 (17.8142 rating) and Globe No. 33 (minus 11.2189). The Wildcats have a 2.1948 opponent rating while the Tigers’ combined opponents are at minus 5.0741. Morenci’s five opponents are 10-16 (.385) overall while Globe’s are 7-17 (.232).

Globe was a previous homecoming opponent in 2011, leaving with a 28-0 loss. Since then, the hosts have posted an 8-2 mark and are 36-19 on that evening since the game’s 1966 inception.

The teams have met three additional times during the previous 40 seasons (1982-2021), with Morenci winning each pairing and averaging a 39-3 (156-12) score per game or a 36-point margin over the Tigers, the other three scores were 27-6 (2012), 51-6 (2015), and 50-0 (2021).

Globe Tigers

Last season, the Tigers finished 1-8 overall, 5th (1-4) in the Salt Region, averaging a 10-40 (90-425) score per game or a 30-point deficit. Globe went 0-3 at home and 1-5 (.167) on the road under first-year head coach Talmage Hansen. The No. 35 Tigers did not qualify for the 2021 post-season.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Micheal Casillas covered 63 yards in 12 seconds on the initial possession and play from scrimmage. The Morenci junior added two more touchdowns, from 13 yards on 3rd-and-7 and from five yards out on 1st-and-goal. He totals nine TDs on the season.

During the previous 10 seasons (2011-20), the Tigers went 34-61 (.358) overall, averaging a 20-31 (1,890-2,977) score per game or an 11-point deficit. Globe was 19-28 (.404) at home and 16-32 (.333) on the road. There were two winning seasons and one post-season game, a 2012 first-round exit.

Globe went 3-7 (.300) during a season (2011) under Bert Ford, 15-25 (.375) during four seasons (2012-15) under Al Ocampo, 11-19 (.367) during three seasons (2016-18) under Nathan Morales, and 5-12 (.294) during two seasons (2019-20) under Mark Openshaw.

This season, Globe (2-3) has wins of 40-0 over 1-3 Santa Rita (Aug. 29) and a forfeit by 0-5 Tucson Catalina (Sept. 23). The losses were 6-32 to 1-4 Queen Creek American Leadership – Ironwood (Sept. 2), 9-47 to 2-3 Tombstone (Sept. 9), and 0-6 to 4-0 Whiteriver Alchesay (Sept. 16). The Tigers have averaged an 11-17 (55-85) score per game or a 6-point deficit. The opponents’ combined records are 7-17 (.242).

The Tigers host Pima (Oct. 7) and San Carlos (Oct. 14), visit San Tan Charter (Oct. 21), and host Miami (Oct. 28), all in region play.

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.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci Junior Donovan Vozza (9) reaches out to bring down Jmiah Wallis (10) in the first quarter. The Tombstone sophomore averaged 5.2 (9-47) yards per carry, gaining 18 yards on four carries during the second possession.

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.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: First-time starting quarterback Joseph Seballos fumbled the ball and went down to recover it. The Morenci junior kept the second possession drive alive, allowing the Wildcats to score two plays later.

Morenci (5-0) has wins of 30-6 over 3-2 Scottsdale Christian (Aug. 19), 44-0 over 0-4 Tanque Verde (Aug. 26), 44-0 over 1-4 Safford (Sept. 2), 21-14 over 3-1 Willcox (Sept. 16), and 56-0 over Tombstone (Sept. 23), averaging a 39-4 (195-20) score per game or a 35-point margin. The opponents’ combined records are 10-16 (.385).

The Wildcats visit Gilbert San Tan Charter (Oct. 7), Miami (Oct. 14), and San Carlos (Oct. 21) prior to the regular season home finale with Pima (Oct. 28), all in region play.

Also this week for Morenci’s 2022 opponents on Friday (Sept. 30), Scottsdale Christian (3-2) visits Phoenix Veritas Prep (2-4), Tanque Verde (1-4) was scheduled to visit Tucson Santa Rita (0-5) prior to Santa Rita forfeiting its season, Safford (1-5) is idle, Willcox (3-2) visits Bisbee (2-3), Tombstone (2-3) visits Tucson Catalina (0-5), Gilbert San Tan Charter (5-1) is idle, Pima (4-1) hosts San Carlos (1-3) and Miami (4-2) is idle.

Week 4 Results:

Last week, Scottsdale Christian (3-2) defeated Glendale Prep (1-4) 61-8, Tanque Verde (1-4) defeated Phoenix North Pointe Prep (0-5) 60-0, Safford (1-5) fell 14-68 to Tucson Sabino (5-0), Willcox (3-2) fell 14-27 to Pima (4-1), Tombstone (2-3) fell 56-0 to Morenci (5-0), Globe (2-3) received a forfeit from Tucson Catalina (0-5), San Tan Charter (5-1) defeated Scottsdale Coronado (0-5) 30-0, Miami (3-2) defeated Saint Johns (2-3) 15-7, San Carlos (1-3) fell 16-48 to Whiteriver Alchesay (4-0).

2A Salt Region

Through five weeks of competition, the San Tan Charter Roadrunners are 5-1 overall and 1-0 region, the Morenci Wildcats (5-0, 0-0), the Pima Roughriders (4-1, 0-0), the Miami Vandals (4-2, 0-1), the Globe Tigers (2-3, 0-0), and the San Carlos Braves (1-4, 0-0).

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Micheal Casillas (7) opens his arms to receive the handoff from quarterback Joseph Seballos (12), following blockers Andrew Chavez (54), Donovan Vozza (9), and Patrick Chavez (13). The junior workhorse averaged 13.3 yards per carry, surpassing 200 yards for the game.

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

Initial 2A statewide rankings list 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).

2A San Pedro Region

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

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Austyn Nelson (53) made four of five conversion kicks against Tombstone. The Morenci junior has totaled 9-11 through five games.

Rankings list 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 Tucson Sabino Sabercats are 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the region, the Thatcher Eagles (5-0, 2-0), the Tucson Pusch Ridge Christian Lions (5-1, 1-1), 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).

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Cecilia Madrid performs the school fight song after the Wildcats scored. The Morenci senior clarinet player was with the Pride Band in Tombstone.

This week, Sabino visits Pusch Ridge, and Benson, Palo Verde Magnet, and Safford are idle. Thatcher visits non-region opponent 4A Tucson Sahuaro.

Last week’s region game results were Sabino 68-14 over Safford, Thatcher 28-15 over Pusch Ridge, and Benson 62-20 over Palo Verde Magnet.

Region pairings on 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).

Morenci – 56, Tombstone – 0

The biggest positive emerging from the contest was the varsity level experience seldom used players were able to acquire. The entire 31-member suited-up traveling squad was inserted into the game at some point. Junior Joseph Seballos got his initial start at quarterback.

Morenci crossed the goal line on each of its four first-half possessions, totaling 24 plays to cover 241 yards. The Wildcats scored from 63 yards in one play using 12 seconds, from 56 yards in seven plays using 4:15, from 52 yards in 10 plays using 5:23, and from 70 yards in six plays.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Julien Aragon followed his blockers to score twice, from 18 yards out with 26 seconds left in the second quarter and from 10 yards out with 1:05 left in the fourth quarter. In pursuit is Tombstone sophomore Coby Jones (32).

Junior Michael Casillas found an opening on 1st-and-10 and sprinted into the end zone. Junior Austyn Nelson added his first of four conversion kicks for a 7-0 advantage with 12 seconds elapsed in the game. Casillas crossed in from 13 yards out on 3rd-and-7 (13-0), from five yards out on 1st-and-goal and added a conversion run (21-0); and Aragon zipped in from 18 yards out on 2nd-and-2, giving Morenci a 27-0 advantage with 26 seconds left in the half.

Garcia lauded the defensive efforts turned in by the Wildcats. Tombstone snapped 22 plays during four possessions to gain 59 of 305 yards.

“We contained their quarterback better than we did last year,” he said.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Gianna Chavez claps her hands for a good play. Morenci’s Spirit Line helped encourage the large following to cheer on the Wildcats in Tombstone.

The Wildcats applied a lot of pressure on him, prompting his remark between plays to THS head coach Dominic Bonilla, “I can’t see the receivers.” He threw three consecutive incomplete passes after a motion penalty on the Yellow Jackets’ initial possession, forcing a punt on 4th-and-15. Tombstone punted on 4th-and-17 after 10 plays gaining 32 of 87 yards during their second possession, punted on 4th-and-25 after eight plays gaining 27 of 57 yards, and ran out of time after a play yielding five of 81 yards.

It was no different in the second half as the Yellow Jackets snapped 21 plays during six possessions and netted 21 of 486 needed yards, after receiving 45 penalty yards.

Tombstone punted on 4th-and-17 after gaining five of 99 yards on seven plays, fumbled on the first play with 95 yards to go, threw an incomplete pass on 4th-and-3 after gaining six of 70 yards during four plays, threw an incomplete pass on 4th-and-14 after gaining 20 of 63 yards during six plays, lost 15 yards and yielded a safety after two plays from 85 yards away, and gained five yards on one play from 85 yards away before running out of time.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Victoria Hernandez performed with the Pride Band Color Guard throughout the game.

Meanwhile, Morenci scored on four of its five second-half possessions, covering 35 yards in six plays, 15 yards in two plays, 61 yards in one play, and 57 yards in seven plays. The third possession resulted in a fumble on the first down.

Seballos connected with junior Tristen Sanchez for a 1-yard TD pass on 1st-and-goal and Nelson added the conversion kick (34-0), Sanchez ran in from 15 yards out on 2nd-and-10 and Nelson added the conversion kick (41-0), junior Donovan Vozza bolted in from 61 yards away on 1st-and-10 and Nelson added the conversion kick (48-0), and freshman Julien Aragon ran in from 10 yards out on 3rd-and-goal for the final 56-0.

For the evening, Morenci officially walked off of Mike Hayhurst Field totaling 435 offensive yards, 432 on 35 carries, and three on a pass reception compared to 111 yards, 75 on 20 carries, and 36 on four pass receptions by Tombstone. The Wildcats also earned 13 first downs and had 51 return yards while the Yellow Jackets got eight and 59, respectively.

Vozza averaged 22.0 (3-66) yards per carry, Casillas 13.3 (16-212) yards, Aragon 11.3 (7-79) yards, Sanchez 11.0 (2-22) yards, and Chavez 7.4 (5-37) yards. Seballos completed 1-4 passes for three yards with no interceptions. Sanchez caught the pass for three yards.

Defensively, 17 Wildcats totaled 59 tackles, 42 solo, and 17 assisted. Chavez had eight (4 solo, 4 assisted), Vozza seven (5 solo, 2 assisted), and both senior Rick Funari (5 solo, 3 assisted) and Sanchez (9 solo, 2 assisted) five apiece. Sanchez and Vozza both recorded a quarterback sack, Nelson had half a sack, junior John Provencio recovered a fumble, and junior Emilio Roybal deflected a pass.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Bradley Weiss brings down Sebastian Jones. The Morenci junior limited the Tombstone sophomore to five yards on the carry.

For Tombstone, junior Malachi Keller averaged 6.0 (1-6) yards per carry, sophomore Jmiah Wallis 5.2 (9-47) yards, sophomore Sebastian Jones 5.0 (1-5) yards, sophomore E.J. Elias 2.0 (7-14) yards, and junior Adrian Torres 1.5 (2-3) yards. Elias completed 4-18 passes for 35 yards with no interceptions. Junior Logan Stevens averaged 11.5 (2-23) yards per catch, Keller 1-9 yards, and sophomore Hunter Griesmer 1-3 yards.

Defensively, 11 Yellow Jackets totaled 57 tackles, 42 solo, and 15 assisted. Sophomore Andrew Griesmer had 14 (12 solo, 2 assisted), Stevens seven (5 solo, 2 assisted), and Elias (4 solo, 2 assisted), junior Elijah Lara (5 solo, 1 assisted), and Wallis (4 solo, 2 assisted) six apiece. Sophomore Thomas Smith recovered a fumble and sophomore Brendyn Downing deflected a pass.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Marcus Lucero lined up on the offensive side and averaged 8.0 yards per carry in Tombstone.