THATCHER — It wasn’t a smooth regular season for the Thatcher Eagles. At times it was downright ugly. Luckily for them the regular season is over and the playoffs have arrived. The Eagles thrive in the one and done playoff setting. They are 13-0 in the last 3+ years in win or go home games. The coaching staff will rely heavily on that this week.
This will be the first time since 2013 that the Thatcher Eagles will be on the road in the second round. Coincidentally Thatcher was the #7 seed that year as well. They defeated #2 Joy Christian 42-41 under then Head Coach Dave Jefferies, who is now leading Benjamin Franklin in the 3A Playoffs.
Trivium Prep comes into Friday night’s game 10-0 on the season. They are led on offense by David Marquez. The Senior tailback has 1,961 yards rushing and 27 touchdowns this season. The Crimson Knights go as he goes. He has rushed for over 100 yards in every game this season and has 5 games over 200 yards. His season high carries per game was last week in their 35-28 win over Morenci. Marquez carried 34 times for 203 yards and 4 touchdowns.
The Crimson Knights don’t throw the ball much at all. Quarterback Kade Gutierrez has only attempted 94 passes in 10 games. He’s thrown 6 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. He will run the ball though as he had 500 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns this year.
Thatcher is the only team that might throw the ball less than Trivium this year. The Eagles don’t post stats publicly but anybody that has watched them over the last 4 seasons know that. They will continue to run the veer this week and “do what they do.” The best part of the Eagles squad this year might be their run defense though. Other than game 1 against ALA-QC and their loss to Round Valley, the Eagles didn’t give up a 100 yard rusher this season.
Offensively the Eagles have had to dig deep this season after a season ending knee injury to starting running back Bretton Dodge. The Eagles have rotated upwards of 6 players in at running back since his injury. The two that have seem to have risen to the top though are Michael McBride and Ammon Curtis. Quarterback Mark Wren has proven he is a threat to score with his legs from almost anywhere on the field.
The average opponent ranking for Trivium Prep is 17 and for Thatcher is 11.5.
Although many consider Thatcher the favorite in this game, Eagles Head Coach Ramon Morales is not buying it. “We will have to play extremely well to beat a very good Trivium team this week”, he said. “They have playmakers and we will have to be disciplined on defense and tackle to grind them down.”
The winner of this game will play the winner of Phoenix Christian and St. Johns.
You can hear the game live on KATO 1230 AM starting at 6:45pm or online by clicking here.