By Raymundo Frasquillo
MORENCI – Eighth-ranked Morenci (6-3 overall, 2-3 region, 6-3 seeding, 5.0029 rating) welcomes 13th-ranked Pima (5-4, 2-3, 5-4, 2.6563) for a 2A East Region and parents’ night contest Friday, Oct. 27.
The Wildcats have 13-6 overall and region records over Pima since 1985, are 7-2 in Lawson Stadium in the same span, scored an average of 25-12 (481-237) or a 13-point margin per game, but are 5-5 during the last 10 pairings. The Roughriders blanked the Wildcats 30-0 in Pima last season and have won the last two games.
Morenci has improved both offensively and defensively under first-year coach David Gallegos, scoring 8 more points and yielding 9 fewer points per game than in 2016, 25-30 (271-329).
The Wildcats have averaged a 33-21 (297-193) score per game or a 12-point margin this season compared to a 39-29 (354-257) score per game or a 10-point margin for the Roughriders.
Morenci brings a 3-1 mark while Pima has gone 1-3, in each teams’ most recent four outings, to this evening’s game.
Pima has defeated Miami (3-7, minus 7.1432 for No. 30) 44-12, Bisbee (4-5, minus 0.3169 for No. 17) 50-34, Tombstone (0-9, minus 16.0465 for No. 38) 60-7, Phoenix Bourgade Catholic (3-6, minus 2.3825 for No. 22) 58-13, and San Carlos (2-7, minus 9.2453 for No. 33) 52-12.
The Roughriders’ losses have been 48-52 to Gilbert Christian (7-2, 7.8978 for No. 5), 20-52 to Thatcher (8-1, 12.9851 for No. 3), 14-20 to Saint Johns (7-2, 7.4434 for No. 7), and 8-55 to Round Valley (9-0, 17.4013 for No. 1).
Morenci’s region wins have been 65-6 over San Carlos and 69-14 over Tombstone while the losses were 6-36 to Thatcher, 12-47 to Saint Johns, and 0-44 to Round Valley.
The current 2A East Region standings are Round Valley first (5-0), Thatcher second (4-1), Saint Johns third (4-1), Morenci fourth (2-3), Pima fifth (2-3), Miami sixth (1-4), and San Carlos seventh (0-6).
Tonight’s other region pairings are Round Valley at Saint Johns and Thatcher at Miami. San Carlos hosts Chandler Arizona College Prep (1-8, minus 15.0581 for No. 36).
The top 16 teams qualify for the state meet beginning Saturday, Nov. 4, with the higher seed hosting the first two rounds.
Morenci vs. Miami
Collective and individual defensive efforts accounted for the Wildcats’ 45-0 region shutout over the Miami Vandals on Oct. 20. Morenci’s previous home shutout was 62-0 over Miami on Oct. 12, 2012.
The Vandals were stopped on all of their possessions, seven in the first half and four in the second half, and earned three first downs compared to 13 by the Wildcats.
Miami yielded the ball with a bad snap on 4th-and-4 after gaining 26 yards in six plays, punted on 4th-and-6 after gaining four yards, fumbled on first down after gaining 21 yards on two plays, yielded the ball on 4th-and-8 after gaining two yards on three plays, punted on 4th-and-16, fumbled on 2nd-and-11, and ran out of time on 2nd-and-11.
In the second half, the Vandals were intercepted on 4th-and-15 after gaining seven yards in seven plays, punted on 4th-and-9, yielded the ball on 4th-and-21 after nine plays, and ran out of time after two plays.
Morenci scored on six of eight possessions plus once on special teams and once on defense.
Senior quarterback Nicolas Carrasco crossed the goal line from a yard out on 4th-and-goal, capping a 9-play, 25-yard drive in 4:38. The conversion kick was wide right. Morenci led 6-0 with 3:57 left in the opening period.
Senior tailback Steven Chavarria scored from a yard out on 3rd-and-9, capping a 10-play, 80-yard drive in 4:23. The conversion pass was short. Morenci led 12-0 with 9:53 left in the second period.
Chavarria added his second touchdown on first down from 33 yards out four minutes later. The conversion kick was wide right.
A Christian Alva interception gave the Wildcats their fifth possession after fumbling away their prior one. Carrasco scored his second TD from two yards out on 2nd-and-goal, capping a 49-yard drive in five plays using 2:38. The conversion pass fell incomplete. Morenci led 24-0 with 54 seconds left in the first half.
Chavarria returned the second-half kick-off 80 yards and senior David Corona added the conversion run for a 32-0 advantage with 15 seconds elapsed.
Senior Brayden McCarthy returned an interception 62 yards to give the home team a 38-0 advantage with 8:23 left in the third period. The conversion pass fell incomplete.
Junior Mark Roybal scored on first down from 18 yards out to give the Wildcats a 44-0 advantage. The 84-yard drive used 4:42 in 13 plays. Junior Christopher Roybal capped the scoring with a successful conversion kick.
The Wildcats’ third possession gained 11 yards and lasted 2:30 before Miami regained the ball on an interception and their last possession resulted in a punt.