Morenci may put self back on map

Morenci may put self back on map

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Morenci may put self back on map

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The last time the Morenci High football team won a state championship was in 1976, nearly two decades before any player on this year’s squad was even born.

Now the No. 2 seed is just days away from the Division V state title game against No. 1 Phoenix Northwest Christian, and despite the fact that it hails from one of the tinier communities in the state, the team is expecting an electrifying crowd on Friday in its quest to bring the trophy back home after a 36-year hiatus.

In fact, the only people from the small border town who won’t be making the seven-hour trek to the NAU Skydome this week are the shift workers who must man the mines that are the community’s lifeblood.

“We’re all one team,” running back Clay Ruedas said. “We feel that way with the whole community.”

The road back to a championship may seem as though it’s been an easy one for Morenci this year when considering the team’s perfect record or the fact that it has outscored its opponents 560-142, but a closer look reveals a voyage that has been years in the making.

“This has been a long time coming,” coach Frank Ogas said. “I’ve been involved with this senior class for eight years. I followed their careers in youth football, coached them in junior high and was fortunate enough to get the head football job four years ago.”

The team has already made history this season, breaking a school record for most wins in a season. And even though the players didn’t experience the first championship firsthand, they are fully aware of what it would mean to bring another title back to Greenlee County.

They had a chance to talk with some of the players on the 1976 team before the playoffs.

“They keep telling us how proud they are of us,” said running back Frank Ogas, the coach’s son.

Morenci’s powerful run game is most likely its ticket to a title Friday. The ground attack will be led by running backs Ogas, Ruedas and Colton Lockmiller. And quarterback Emilio Duran, who was injured, will return for Friday’s game, Coach Ogas said.

But even with so many offensive weapons, Ogas said his players know they must prepare for an intense battle with top-seeded Northwest Christian, which enters its third consecutive title game with a record of 12-1.

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