By Raymundo Frasquillo
MORENCI – The Morenci High School football team concluded a four-day fundamentals football camp by competing in 7-on-7 sessions held in the Land of Enchantment on July 13. One-on-one events plus a four by one, two-man go-cart race were held for linemen.
A cool, evening start awaited the Wildcats as they tested their skills against the host New Mexico Silver High Fighting Colts, the Bayard Cobre Indians, the Deming Wildcats, and the Lordsburg Mavericks.
Official scores or results were not posted, but Morenci’s coaching staff concurred, “the Wildcats did very well,” considering the other teams did not go through similar physical activities in the days leading up to the meet.
Morenci’s camp was divided into two daily sessions from 6-9 a.m. and 4-9 p.m. with a meal break. The days began with a mile run from in front of Morenci Memorial Gymnasium to the Sacred Heart Catholic Cemetery entrance, followed by 14, 50-yard sprints on the road to the cemetery, a return run to Lawson Stadium, basic play diagrams, and separate drills for both offensive and defensive positions.
Offensive linemen were shown stance, explosion off the ball, blocking scheme techniques, and communication drills, while defensive linemen were shown stance, alignment, pass rush techniques, pursuit, leverage, hit and shed, tackling, and reading recognition.
Specific training drills for receivers, running backs, quarterbacks, defensive backs, linebackers, and specialty team positions were introduced, reviewed, and run repeatedly.
Stretching and strengthening drills, team concepts, and character building was introduced as well by the coaching staff, which is led by first-year MHS head coach David Gallegos.
Class of 2018 participants included Justice Boling, Steven Chavarria, David Corona, Devin Martinez, Brayden McCarthy, Robert Morey, Patrick Provencio III, Isiah Sanchez, and Markus Sanchez.
The Class of 2019 was represented by Collin Bencomo, Ruben Casillas, Matthew Garcia, Tanner Hudman, Isaac Pacheco, Jude Perez, Christopher Roybal, and Mark Roybal.
Sophomores in attendance were Angel Arrellin, Tayshaun Blackman, Brandon Blair, Zachary Esparza, Matthew Harrington, Lance Morey, Omar Ortega, Dominik Vigil, Beau Wagner, and Tristan Williams.
Freshmen attending were Conrad Aguallo, Adam Chacon, Joseph Hernandez, Maddux Martinez, and Sammy Sauls.
“It’s a pretty good nucleus,” athletic director Frank Ogas said.
Morenci’s 2017 schedule is identical to last season, with the same opponents at alternating sites. The Wildcats ended 2016 with a 5-5 record during the 10-game regular season, 2-4 for 5th in the 2A East Region, and 0-1 in the post-season under third-year head coach Gary Sandoval (16-15 overall, 2-4 region, 7-3 section, 0-2 state playoffs).
The upcoming 10 opponents finished 59-42 in the regular season and 10-6 in the postseason, with the two finalists, another semifinalist, a quarterfinalist, and two other first-round participants.
Morenci hosts Tonopah Valley (2016 regular season: 5-5, post-season 0-1) on Aug. 25 and Benson (8-2, 2-1) on Sept. 1, is at Willcox (2-8, 0-0) on Sept. 8, hosts Thatcher (8-2, 4-0) on Sept. 15, is at Saint Johns (7-3, 0-1) on Sept. 22, at San Carlos (1-9, 0-0) on Sept. 29, at Eagar Round Valley (10-0, 3-1) on Oct. 6, at Tombstone (6-4, 2-1) on Oct. 13, hosts Miami (4-7, 0-0) on Oct. 20, and Pima (8-2, 1-1) on Oct. 27.
The Wildcats are 36-28 versus the same 10 opponents during the most recent 10 seasons (2007-16), going 1-0 verses Tonopah Valley, 3-7 vs. Benson (0-5 region, 3-0 section, 0-1 state playoff), 8-2 vs. Willcox (3-2, 4-0, 0-0), 3-8 vs. Thatcher (1-4, 2-2, 0-1), 1-2 vs. Saint Johns (0-1, 0-0, 0-0), 6-0 vs. San Carlos (1-0, 3-0, 0-0), 1-5 vs. Round Valley (0-1, 0-0, 0-0), 9-1 vs. Tombstone (3-1, 4-0, 0-0), 3-1 vs. Miami (1-0, 2-1, 0-0), and 1-2 vs. Pima (0-1, 1-1, 0-0).
In the 2A post-season during the same 10-year span, Tonopah Valley is 0-3, Benson 8-8 (2015 runner-up; 2008, ‘14, ’16 semifinalist; 2009 quarterfinalist), Willcox 3-4 (2009 runner-up), Thatcher 12-8 (2016 champion; 2007, ‘10, ’13 semifinalist; 2008, ’12, ’14 quarterfinalist), Saint Johns 16-7 (2008-09 champion; 2009, ’10, ’11 semifinalist; 2012, ’13 quarterfinalist), San Carlos 0-0, Round Valley 10-6 (2013, ’16 runner-up; 2015 semifinalist; 2011, ’14 quarterfinalist), Tombstone 0-0, Miami 1-3 (2015 quarterfinalist), and Pima 1-1 (2016 quarterfinalist).
Since 2007, Morenci has posted a collective 48-45 overall record (10-12 region, 26-4 section, 4-7 state playoffs) and ended as state runners-up in 2012, quarterfinalist in 2011, and one-and-done five times (2008, ’09, ’13, ’15, ‘16).
The rewards for camp participants are having gained knowledge, experience, improvement, and team bonding by the time the official practice sessions begins next week.
Before equipment is issued, the Wildcats have been made aware of the uphill challenge facing them, as well as the necessary commitment, dedication, and hard work needed to be in place for them to be able to get their cake and eat it too.