Rishard Davis is no stranger to small school football in Arizona. The Alabama native coached Santa Cruz High School to deep postseason success in his 7-year stint in Eloy. They Dust Devils lost to the 3-peat Thatcher team in the semifinals in 2016 and in the 2A title game in 2017, both by one point each. He will take over a Morenci squad that was the 2A runner-up the last two years and will be making the leap into 3A this year.
The expectation of winning is already in place on the hill, but can the Wildcats sustain that in 3A? That is the big question this season.
Players to watch this season
Tristen Sanchez – Sr – TE/DE (6’1, 200 pounds)
Sanchez caught 23 passes for 420 yards last season with seven touchdowns. He dominated on defense where he led the team with 106 tackles, 38 for loss. He led the 2A with 23.5 sacks. He was named the 2A Defensive Player of the ear and earned an Ed Doherty Award Nominee Medallion after a breakout game against Miami where he amassed 11 tackles and 7.5 sacks (a school record).
Mikey Casillas – Sr – RB/DB (5’9, 160 pounds)
Casillas led the Wildcats on the ground last season with 1,936 yards and 32 touchdowns. He was arguably the best running back in 2A the last two years. He has rushed for 4,096 yards with 64 touchdowns in his varsity career. Expect to see a heavy dose of Casillas this season if Davis’ offense stays the same as it was when he coached at Santa Cruz.
Donovan Vozza – Sr – TE/DE (6’3, 200 pounds)
Vozza had 15 sacks last season and 24.5 tackles for a loss. This season he should have ample opportunities to improve on those numbers with Sanchez most likely drawing a double team on the other end of the line. With these two big defensive ends, opponents will have to pick their poison when they gameplan for the Wildcats.
Andrew Chavez – Sr- MLB (5’11, 205 pounds)
Chavez had 30 tackles and 4.5 sacks last season from his defensive line position. He’s listed as the middle linebacker this year which should give him lanes to get to the ball more often and really rack up the tackles this season.
2 Questions with Coach Davis
The game you have circled on your calendar and the reason why? “I feel like the Round Valley game will be a good measuring stick for us. This is the 2nd game and I believe it will tell us a lot about ourselves and if we can compete in 3A.”
What is your favorite part about this year’s squad? “The togetherness stands out more than anything. You can tell that majority of the team has been playing together for years. Team chemistry is already present.”
The Wildcats will start the season with 4 straight road games as their new turf field is finished. They will play their first game on the new field on September 22nd when they host Blue Ridge.
2023 Morenci Coaching Staff
Rishard Davis (Head Coach)
Benji Morales (Assistant Coach)
Esai Vanegas (Assistant Coach)
Jason Mceuen (Assistant Coach)
Art Martinez (Assistant Coach)
Tito Casillas (Assistant Coach)
Frankie Gonzalez (Assistant Coach/Defensive Coordinator)
Josh Sandoval (Assistant Coach)
Matt Garcia (Assistant Coach)