Wildkats host Apaches in state playoff first round; earn initial South Region football title

Raymundo Frasquillo File Photo/Gila Herald: Duncan junior quarterback Jason McGrath (14) is under center with junior Tommy Hille (76), senior Cliff Hansen (52), sophomore Austin Bigler (71), and senior Trey Robinette (63) as offensive linemen. The Wildkats will host the Fort Thomas Apaches in the first round of the 1A State Playoffs on Friday.

By Raymundo Frasquillo

DUNCAN – The Eric Bejarano-coached No. 6 Wildkats host a state playoff first-round game Friday, Oct. 25. Duncan (7-1 overall, 6.6683 rating, 5-0 South Region for 1st) welcomes the No. 11 Fort Thomas Apaches (5-4, minus 0.3442, 2-3 South Region for 4th) to Packer Field. The winner is at No. 3 Superior (7-1, 11.0701, 4-0 East Region for 1st) for the quarterfinal round Nov. 1.

The bottom part of the lower bracket has No. 10 Joseph City (4-4, 0.1220, 2-2 North Region for 3rd) at No. 7 Heber Mogollon (6-3, 5.5118, 3-1 North Region for 2nd), with the winner at No. 2 Bagdad (7-1, 13.2864, 5-0 West Region for 1st) the next week.

In the upper bracket, No. 8 Gilbert Arete Prep (5-3, 2.8487, 3-2 East Region for 3rd) welcomes No. 9 Anthem Prep (4-4, 1.8918, 2-2 West Region for 3rd) in round one, with the winner at top-ranked Williams (7-1, 16.3079, 3-0 North Region for 1st) for the quarterfinals.

The lower portion has No. 12 Saint David (5-3, minus 0.4096, 4-1 South Region for 2nd) at No. 5 Winkelman Hayden (6-2, 8.2708, 4-1 East Region for 2nd) for round one, with the winner at No. 2 Bagdad (7-1, 13.2864) for the quarterfinals.

Scottsdale Coronado will host the semifinals Nov. 8 or 9 and final Nov. 16.

Since the Top 12 format for the 8-man state playoffs (2011-18) has been in effect, records are 13-6 for the No. 2 seed, 13-7 for No. 3, 12-5 for No. 4, 12-6 for No. 1, 11-9 for No. 5, 9-8 for No. 7, 7-8 for No. 6, 6-8 for No. 9, 3-8 for No. 8, 1-8 for No. 11, and 0-8 for both No. 10 and No. 12.

Raymundo Frasquillo File Photo/Gila Herald: Fort Thomas junior Terrold Robertson (31) found some running room against the Wildkats during an earlier meeting in Duncan.

During the first round of the past three seasons (2016-18), the No. 6, No. 7, and No. 9 seeds are 3-0 apiece, and the rest 2-1 (No. 5), and  0-3 (No. 8, 10, 11, 12). The top four seeds had a bye in the first round.

Duncan has gone one-and-done in each of its last nine appearances in 2008-14, 2016, and 2018, after going 1-1 in its initial appearance during 2003.

Other South Region members not in the playoffs include No. 14 Sells Baboquivari (4-4, minus 1.6647, 3-2 for 3rd), No. 20 Elfrida Valley Union (1-8, minus 9.9117, 1-4 for 5th), and No. 23 Cibecue (0-8, minus 16.6838, 0-5 for 6th).

The Wildkats’ other two regular-season opponents, Kearny Ray and Mohave Accelerated ended No. 13 (3-5, minus 1.2535, 2-3 East Region for 4th) and No. 17 (3-6, minus 3.9006, 2-3 West Region for 4th), respectively.

Duncan – 34 Baboquivari – 14

Raymundo Frasquillo File Photo/Gila Herald: Senior captains Lucas Basteen (25), Cesar Contreras (20), Cliff Hansen (52), and Christopher Smith (16) head to the mid-field coin toss.

The Wildkats outscored the Warriors 34-14 to earn the South Region title with a 5-0 mark. Duncan had an average of 56-18 (168-54) per game, or a 38-point margin through three previous pairings. The wins were 54-28 in 2016 (Sept. 2), 44-0 in 2017 (Oct. 6), and 70-26 in 2018 (Oct. 12).

Duncan earned its third region title in 17-years (2003-19) of participating in the 8-man format, twice as champions in the East Region and once in the South Region. The Wildkats finished 3-0 in 2003 and 5-0 in both 2009 and 2019 for their titles.

Raymundo Frasquillo File Photo/Gila Herald: Fort Thomas senior quarterback Todd Stringfellow (15) accounted for 14 points against Duncan during the Oct. 4 region pairing. He rushed for two touchdowns and added a conversion run.

A total of 352 offensive yards were gained by Duncan in Sells, 292 yards on 54 carries and 60 yards on 5-10 passes.

Individually, Jason McGrath averaged 6.5 (1-13) yards per carry, Cesar Contreras 6.1 (22-134) yards, Lucas Basteen 5.8 (19-111) yards, Benjamin Harris 5.1 (7-36) yards, Isaac Duarte 1 (1-1) yard, and Christopher Smith minus 3 (1 – minus 3) yards.

McGrath completed 5-9 passes for 60 yards with an interception and Smith 0-1. Harris caught a pass for 24 yards, Basteen 1-12, Tommy Hille 2-18, and Contreras 1-6.

Contreras contributed two touchdown runs, Basteen one plus a conversion run, and both Harris and Hille on a pass reception. Hille also added a safety.

Defensively, McGrath totaled 10 stops (6 solo, 4 assisted), Basteen (4 solo, 4 assisted) and Emiliano Ortega (2 solo, 6 assisted) eight apiece, Smith 6 (3 solo, 3 assisted), Contreras (1 solo, 4 assisted), Harris (2 solo, 3 assisted), and Hille (1 solo, 4 assisted) five each.

Basteen recorded two quarterback sacks and an interception, Ortega two quarterback sacks, Logan Basteen, Gabriel Guevara, and Hansen a quarterback sack each, and Coyote Grove a fumble recovery.

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