Close games, Overtimes and blowouts, oh my! There was a pinch of each on Friday night in Gila Valley football action. A few teams clinched playoff spots, a few lost their chance and some proved their worth with one week left of the regular season.
#9 Joseph City 66 #8 Fort Thomas 58 (3OT)
This one is going to sting for a while for Bracken Walker and the Fort Thomas Apaches. They led by 14 points going into the 4th quarter of the 1A State Playoff opening round game. Joe City stormed back to tie it before finally making a defensive stop in the 3rd overtime to steal the win and move on in the tournament. This is the 3rd straight loss for the Apaches after they started the season 6-0.
#9 Safford 35 #12 Pusch Ridge 34
For the 2nd time this year the Bulldogs found themselves in a shootout. This time the Bulldogs defense stopped the Lions on their game winning 2 point conversion try to seal the win. Safford has now won 6 games in a row after losing their first 3. With the win Safford has solidified a playoff appearance. They now have a huge home game Friday against Sabino for the 3A South Championship. Sam Tobias ran for 2 TD’s after rapidly recovering from a recent appendectomy.
#5 Morenci 29 #16 Pima 12
This was pretty much a must win for the Pima Roughriders to qualify for the playoffs. They now have to beat Round Valley this week to have a hope and a prayer to get into the postseason, and if they do qualify it will most likely be as the 16th seed and a rematch with Thatcher. Morenci bounced back after not finding the endzone last week in a 30-2 loss to the Round Valley Elks.
#1 Thatcher 42 #3 Round Valley 3
No, that isn’t a misprint. Thatcher hasn’t given up more than 6 points in their last 6 games, all conference wins. The question is being asked if the 2A has anything to offer the Eagles this season. After the dominate win over the State’s 3rd place team, the answer is no. Phoenix Christian coach Brian Cole says that Thatcher would win the 3A this year as well. Thatcher was led by Sr RB Riley Morris with 124 yards and 3 touchdowns.
#6 Arete Prep 46 #11 Duncan 42
Duncan took the lead with 4:29 to play in the game and looked prime to pull off the upset in the 1A opening round playoff game. However with 2:17 left in the game Arete Prep completed a short pass that turned into a long run after catch and would set up the score to comeback for the 46-42 win.