Last week the 1A 8-man teams kicked off their season across Arizona. This week small school 11-man teams in the 2A and 3A Conferences will get their chance.
Safford at Blue Ridge
Safford will make the trip to the White Mountains under first year varsity head coach, Bob Park. Park has been a part of the school district’s athletic departments from junior high through high school for 20+ years and now is the head coach.
The Bulldogs will have a complete revamped offense from their triple option scheme under John O’Mera. Park says they will rely on Christian Smith, Garrett Pritchard, Brenden Gunnett, Tanner Emery, JoJo Ruelas, Damian Rios, and Kaleb Cordova this season.
Blue Ridge has a new head coach of their own. Jeremy Hathcock will take over the Yellowjackets this season after 14 years at the 6A level in Gilbert. Hathcock played for legendary Blue Ridge coach Paul Moro in the 80’s.
The game will be live streamed on the NFHS Network.
Sahuarita at Thatcher
The Thatcher Eagles will open their season at home against one of the biggest unknowns in the 3A this year. Sahuarita only played 3 games last season before Pima County ended all athletics events. Couple that with the arrival of a brand new head coach in Jacob Price, literally nobody knows what to expect from the Mustangs.
Thatcher will feature one of the biggest offensive lines in 3A this year with four players over 300 pounds on the line they should dominate the lines of scrimmage this year. The Eagles will also try to open up the passing game more this season with the emergence of 6’4″ QB Wyatt Larson.
This game will be broadcast on KATO 1230 AM in the Gila Valley and online by clicking here.
Pima at Miami
The Pima Roughriders were originally scheduled to travel to San Carlos on Friday but they are in a 2 week pause. Instead the Riders will travel to take on the Miami Vandals.
After seeing Pima this summer, they have the tallest wide receiver corps in 2A. New QB Seth Russell stands nearly 6’5 himself and should have no problem seeing over the line to his towering receivers.
Head Coach Jim Hughes has had a full year to get his offense and defense installed and will be a tough out this year.
Miami finished last season 5-2 and #10 in the final 2A rankings and will be unveiling new uniforms for the game.
Sequoia Pathways at Morenci
Morenci’s lone loss last season came to the state runner-up, Benson. They are poised to make a big run again this season with their big lineman and speedy backs.
The Wildcats will feature Jericho Sanchez, Tony Roybal, Daylen Johnson, Derek Saenz, Tristen Sanchez and Michael Casillas.
They will have to be ready for Sequoia Pathways on Friday because according to Coach Garcia, Pathways will spread the field and use their speed.
It will be a great early season matchup and big win for Morenci could set the tone for a big year on the hill.