Thatcher looks to repeat as champions
By Jon Johnson
PHOENIX – Not so fast Morenci, looks like you’ve got one more home game this year.
The Arizona Interscholastic Association has released its playoff bracket for the 2A division and both Thatcher and Morenci will host playoff games.
No. 3 Thatcher (7-1 conference, 9-1 overall) will begin its quest to repeat as 2A State Champion by hosting No. 14 Willcox (3-5 conference, 5-5 overall) on Friday, Nov. 3 at John T. Mickelson Stadium at Eastern Arizona College, starting at 6 p.m.
Thatcher opened its season by dispatching Willcox 52-6 at the same venue. Gila Valley Central doesn’t see anything that should significantly change that and the smart money will be on Thatcher to move onto the second round to face either No. 6 St. Johns, which just lost 45-14 to No. 1 Round Valley or No. 11 San Tan Foothills. The second round will take place at the higher seed’s school Nov. 10 at 7 p.m.
Thatcher’s only loss this year was to Round Valley, and the Eagles won’t face the Elks in the playoffs unless both make it to the championship game. Last year, Thatcher also lost to Round Valley in the regular season before coming back and beating them for the championship. Knowing the Eagles players and coaches stance, they likely would love another shot at the Elks and are hoping for a little repeat history.
No. 8 Morenci (7-3 conference, 7-3 overall) will host No. 9 Arizona Lutheran (7-3 conference, 7-3 overall) at The Hill on Saturday, Nov. 4, starting at 6 p.m. If Morenci advances to the second round, it would likely have to travel to Eager, Round Valley to take on the undefeated No. 1 Elks (7-0 conference, 10-0 overall), who must first dispatch No. 16 Kingman Academy (6-2 conference, 7-3 overall), which got into the playoffs by winning its region.
Despite losing four of their last five games, the Pima Roughriders (5-5 conference, 5-5 overall) backed their way into the playoff and will travel to face the undefeated No. 4 Santa Cruz Valley Dust Devils (8-0 conference, 9-0 overall) on Saturday, Nov. 4, starting at 6 p.m. One might think it a blessing for the Roughriders to play the No. 4-seed team instead of Round Valley, Phoenix Christian or Thatcher, but the Dust Devils are unbeaten for a reason and Thatcher’s strength of schedule is likely why the Eagles kept pace ahead of Santa Cruz, with their only loss being to No. 1 Round Valley.
In common opponents, Santa Cruz beat Tombstone 89-0 and Bisbee 54-20, while Pima beat Tombstone 60-7 and Bisbee 50-34.
If Pima is victorious, they would likely travel to No. 5 Scottsdale Christian the following week for a game on Nov. 10 at 7 p.m.
The Safford Bulldogs did not make the 3A playoffs.
Gila Valley Central would like to congratulate all the 2A teams for making the playoffs and wish them to have success. Having three teams in the playoffs, with two hosting, is a great representation for the Gila Valley.