By DOUG DONNELLY
MORENCI – Over the next four weeks of the season, the Whiteford Bobcats will take on two state-ranked teams, a vastly improving Britton Deerfield team and its arch-rival Summerfield.
So, on Saturday morning, the Bobcats’ agenda included building momentum and confidence. Both of those goals were met with Whiteford dominating Morenci, 44-14, to improve to 3-2 on the season.
“I was happy how we came out and did what we needed to do early,” Whiteford head coach Jason Mensing said. “We need to get better every time we go out on the field. We need to do better at executing and I think we did today.”
The Bobcats scored first on its second possession on a 17-yard run by Cole Giesige.
The game turned on the next possession when Morenci put together a seven-play drive to the Whiteford 31-yard line. On a fourth-and-two, Bobcat defensive tackle Noah Bauman stuffed the Bulldog runner, turning the ball over to Whiteford.
Two plays later, Whiteford freshman quarterback Shea Ruddy found tight end Braedon Mills over the middle for a 60-yard touchdown and the Bobcats led 16-0. Things got worse for Morenci on the next offensive play when Luke Masserant read the Morenci quarterback perfectly, stepped in front of what looked like a screen pass and went 37 yards with the interception. The defensive score gave Whiteford a 24-0 lead before the first quarter was over.
“Luke has great hands and is very athletic,” Mensing said. “He’s played better and better each week. I’m really excited he was able to make a couple big plays today as he has been working for those opportunities.”
Masserant also had an interception on a Bulldog two-point conversion attempt.
Giesige added two more touchdown runs and Mills caught a second touchdown strike for Ruddy. Ruddy finished the game 8-for-9 for 195 yards passing, a season high.
“I’m really proud of Shea,” Mensing said. “He has so much poise for a young guy and works and prepares like an upper-classmen.”
The Bobcat offense finished with 405 yards. Devon Shaw had 84 yards rushing and Giesige 76 yards.
Evan Dyer had eight tackles and Brodi Tesznar seven for the Bobcat defense.
The game was scheduled for Friday night but was postponed to 10 a.m. Saturday due to inclement weather. Morenci fell to 0-5.
The Bobcats host Sand Creek Friday. The Aggies (3-1) were ranked in the Division 7 top 10 this past week and had a night game scheduled for Saturday against Britton Deerfield.
Whiteford 44, Morenci 14
W – Cole Giesige 17 run (Cole Giesige run), 4:09
W – Braedon Mills 60 pass from Shea Ruddy (Cole Giesige run), :47
W – Luke Masserant 37 interception return (Devon Shaw run), :39
W – Cole Giesige 7 run (run failed), 6:54
W – Braedon Mills 19 pass from Shea Ruddy (run failed), :43
W – Cole Giesige 13 run (Braedon Mills pass from Shea Ruddy), 6:47
M – Rodney Zimmerman 58 pass from Braylon Stover (pass failed), 5:23
M – Cam Smith 3 run (Cam Smith run), 3:35
RUSHING – Whiteford: Devon Shaw 12-83, Cole Giesige 10-76, Eli Dyer 7-30, Nick Marchant 6-14, Levi Hillard 2-4, Shea Ruddy 4-3, Jacob Kahn 1-0. Morenci: Rodney Zimmerman 5-41, Cam Smith 13-35, Evan Mansfield 4-24, Carsyn Varga 8-31.
PASSING – Whiteford: Shea Ruddy 8-9-0 185 yards, Morenci: Braylon Stover 5-10-1 101 yards.
RECEIVING – Whiteford: Braedon Mills 3-96, Nick Marchant 2-36, Skyler Collins 2-36, Devon Shaw 1-27. Morenci: Rodney Zimmerman 3-93, Cam Smith 2-8.