Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Cesar Contreras scored twice for Duncan and averaged 5.5 (25-137) yards per carry against the Apaches. Stingy defenses for both teams allowed no scoring in the final 9 minutes. Bringing the senior running back down are Fort Thomas freshman Tyler Black (10) and senior Zack Walker (33).
Duncan prevails over Fort Thomas
By Raymundo Frasquillo
ELFRIDA – Duncan will take on the Valley Union Blue Devils in Elfrida on Oct. 11.
Valley Union was No. 20 of 23 8-man teams with a minus 8.1074 rating during the initial Oct. 1 rankings. The Blue Devils (1-6 overall, 1-2 region) dropped a slot to No. 21 (minus 9.4356 rating) this week. Theyaverage a score of 19-48 (132-336) per game or a 29-point deficit.
The Blue Devils have a win of 66-0 over Cibecue (Aug. 23) along with losses of 62-0 to Superior (Aug. 30), 40-18 to Joseph City (Sept. 6), 60-6 to Heber Mogollon (Sept. 13), 44-20 to Sells Baboquivari (Sept. 20), 62-22 to Fort Thomas (Sept. 27), and 68-0 to Saint David (Oct. 4).
Duncan (5-1 overall, 3-0 region) debuted at No. 6 in the initial rankings and remains there this week. The Wildkats have averaged a 36-17 (218-104) score per game or a 19-point margin. The wins were 26-20 over Kearny Ray (Aug. 23), 50-6 over Mohave Accelerated (Aug. 30), 60-0 over Cibecue (Sept. 7), 28-18 over Saint David (Sept. 27), and 26-20 over Fort Thomas (Oct. 4). The loss was 40-28 to Salome (Sept. 13).
Valley Union is at Saint David and Duncan at Baboquivari for the remaining regular season region games on Oct. 18.
The 1A South Region standings are Duncan first, Baboquivari second (3-0), Saint David third (2-1), Valley Union (1-2) fourth, Fort Thomas fifth (1-3), and Cibecue sixth (0-4).
Rankings for the rest of the region members are No. 11 (0.0703 rating) for Baboquivari, No. 14 (minus 2.6170) for Fort Thomas, No. 16 (minus 2.9896) for Saint David, and No. 23 (minus 16.3977) for Cibecue.
Duncan – 26, Fort Thomas – 20
The scoreboard read 14-14 at halftime and two scores separated the teams as the fourth quarter started. The Apaches pared the deficit to six points with less than three minutes elapsed. Senior Todd Stringfellow capped a 65-yard, 11-play drive with a 4-yard run. The conversion pass attempt was short. Duncan led 26-20.
However, it would be late in the game before the outcome was decided. Stiffened defenses on both sides of the line prevented scoring during the final nine minutes of play. The teams had three possessions apiece and both played hard before the final buzzer sounded.
Duncan went three-and-out, punting on 4th-and-9 after gaining a yard, and turned the ball over on downs after four plays netting 15 yards and again after eight plays netting 43 yards.
The Fort went 56 yards in nine plays, but turned the ball over on downs and was twice intercepted, after two plays gaining three yards and on the first play in the closing seconds.
Duncan junior Jason McGrath and senior Christopher Smith each pulled down their second Apaches’ pass of the night. The Wildkats took a knee after the last interception to wind down the clock.
“If the game had been played earlier in the season, we would have been 42-pointed,” Fort Thomas head coach Lee Haws said.
Instead, noticeable improvement was evident throughout the contest.
The teams totaled 11 possessions for the game. Duncan scored four times, turned the ball over on downs five times, punted once, and took a knee once. Fort Thomas scored thrice, turned the ball over on downs twice, was intercepted four times, punted once, and ran out of time once.
Duncan turned the ball over on downs after gaining 34 yards on its initial possession, but scored on its ensuing two possessions to take a 14-6 advantage into the second quarter.
The Apaches drove 72 yards in six plays for a touchdown on their first possession. Senior Zack Walker crossed the goal line from 20 yards out with 3:23 left in the opening quarter. The conversion attempted failed.
Duncan senior Cesar Contreras capped an 11-play, 63-yard drive with a 46-yard run. It tied the score at 6-6 with 2:43 left in the opening quarter.
Smith intercepted a Fort Thomas’ second possession first down pass and returned it 25 yards to set up a second score. The Wildkats used 1:37 in four plays to cover 15 yards. Contreras ran in from two yards out. Senior Lucas Basteen added the conversion run to give Duncan a 14-6 advantage with 53 seconds left in the first quarter.
Fort Thomas marched 68 yards in 14 plays to score on a 25-yard Stringfellow run. He added the conversion run to tie the game with 5:04 elapsed in the second quarter.
Duncan went 45 yards in 15 plays before turning the ball over on downs and the Apaches picked up seven yards on a lone play before time expired. The score remained tied at halftime.
Fort Thomas and Duncan both turned the ball over on downs after gaining 11 yards in 11 plays during ensuing possessions. The Apaches followed it with a 4th-and-23 punt on their next possession.
A 2-yard Fort Thomas gain was followed by a 2nd-and-8 interception by Smith. The Wildkats covered 62 yards in five plays to break the tie. Smith caught a McGrath pass and went 32 yards for a touchdown. The conversion run was short. Duncan led 20-14 with 3:15 elapsed in the second half.
Duncan added its final touchdown late in the third quarter. Basteen capped a 2-play, 39-yard drive and the conversion attempt was short.
The Apaches lit up their side of the scoreboard with what became the final score.
On the night, the Wildkats covered 325 yards on 64 offensive snaps while the Apaches covered only 297 yards on 53 snaps.
Contreras averaged 5.5 (25-137) yards per carry, Basteen 4.7 (23-109) yards, senior Tommy Hille 3.0 (1-3) yards, and McGrath 2.8 (6-17) yards.
McGrath completed 2-10 passes for 53 yards with no interceptions. Smith caught a pass for 32 yards and Contreras 2-21 yards.
Defensively, freshman Gary Najar totaled 11 stops (5 solo, 6 assisted), senior Cliff Hansen (2 solo, 5 assisted) and McGrath (4 solo, 3 assisted) seven apiece, Basteen (4 solo, 2 assisted), Hille (2 solo, 4 assisted), and freshman Emilano Ortega (3 solo, 3 assisted) six apiece, freshman Benjamin Harris five (1 solo, 4 assisted), and Smith three (1 solo, 2 assisted).
Basteen netted two quarterback sacks, and both McGrath and Smith two interceptions apiece.