Wildcats, Eagles clash in Morenci on Friday

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Valley Central: The Thatcher Eagles will travel to Morenci on Friday for a matchup between two unbeaten Gila Valley teams.

By Raymundo Frasquillo

MORENCI – First-year Morenci head coach David Gallegos has assembled a staff that has been able to press the right buttons on the Wildcats during both the preparation process and the games. They compliment one another very well and will face their biggest challenge of the season, Friday, Sept. 15.

Morenci welcomes the Thatcher Eagles to Lawson Stadium for the 19th time since it opened in 1982. It will be a 2A East Region contest and a clash of unbeaten teams, the Eagles after four games and the Wildcats after three games.

History does not favor the Wildcats. One can count the number of wins for the home team on one hand, five, with 13 losses. The Eagles have won eight of the most recent 11 pairings since 2007 and average a 32-15 (351-164) score per game, are 3-2 in Morenci during the last 10 seasons with a 33-19 (165-95) average score per game, have a four-game win streak, and posted a 29-0 shutout in 2015 on their previous visit.

Thatcher (4-0 overall, 1-0 region) brings a 28-point average margin or 41-13 (163-53) score per game while the Wildcats have an 18-point average margin or 33-15 (100-46) score per game. Morenci (3-0 overall, 1-0 region) had scored eight fewer points per game and has allowed two more per game than the visitors.

The common opponents are the Benson Bobcats and the Willcox Cowboys. Thatcher bested the Cowboys 52-6, Aug. 18 and shutout the Bobcats 42-0 in Benson on Aug. 25. Morenci held off the Bobcats in Lawson Stadium during the closing 22 seconds to preserve a 32-26 advantage Sept. 1 and shut out the Cowboys 26-0 in Willcox during the first half en route to a 47-13 triumph Sept. 8.

Thatcher’s other wins have been 42-41 over Safford on Aug. 25 and 27-6 over Snowflake on Sept. 8, both in Mickelson Stadium. Morenci lacked 2:15 to shutout Tonopah Valley, ending with a 21-7 win in Lawson Stadium on Aug. 25.

The Eagles ended the 2016 season as the 2A state champions while the Wildcats went one-and-done in the post-season.

A capacity crowd is anticipated and the 12th man is expected to be in the house. The Wildcats are ready to ink their own page in school history. Kick-off is 7 p.m.