No. 4 Willcox (10-2) vs. No. 1 Pima (11-1)
Kickoff: 6 p.m.
Site: Safford High School
Willcox coach: Eric Hjalmarson (21-8, third year with the Cowboys, 37-21 sixth year overall).
Pima coach: Josh Wilkins (11-1, first year with the Roughriders and overall).
When Willcox has the ball:
Run percentage: 85.4 percent (399 rushes)
Pass percentage: 14.6 percent (68 passes)
Opponents know Willcox is going to run the ball mostly and senior running backs Cristian Pando and Ayden Fuentes have still developed into the best tandem in the state combining for 3,171 yards. Pando has rushed for 1,687 yards on 184 carries with 33 touchdowns. Fuentes is at 1,484 yards on 136 rushes with 19 touchdowns. … QB Kash Macumber has been reliable when called upon, completing 54 percent of his passes (27 of 50) for 496 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. … Pando has also caught 10 passes for 207 yards. … Pima limited Willcox to only 126 yards rushing in its 27-14 win Sept. 24 and Pando gained 107 of them on 19 carries. … LB Tucker Wilkins, son of coach Josh Wilkins, has tallied a team-high 72 tackles followed by LB Tuddy Smart’s 67 tackles. … Two players have four interceptions — CB Grant Ashby and SS Jaxon John.
When Pima has the ball:
Run percentage: 71.7 percent (284 rushes)
Pass percentage: 28.3 percent (112 passes)
QB Seth Russell has completed 54 of 97 pass attempts for 1,132 yards for 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He completed 8 of 14 passes for 174 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions in the previous meeting with Willcox. … Pima has three backs with at least 300 yards — Wyatt Wiltbank (747 yards on 75 rushes with 10 touchdowns), Hayden Blair (412 yards on 59 carries seven touchdowns) and Jeremiah Martinez (378 yards on 50 carries). … John is also the top receiver for Pima with 17 receptions for 257 yards with five touchdowns. … Pando is also Willcox’s leading tackler as a linebacker with 89 and LB Evann Truschke and Fuentes, another linebacker, each have 67. … DE Mikey Martinez leads the Cowboys with seven sacks. … Remington Todd, another talented linebacker, has five interceptions.
Morenci — Willcox lost at Morenci 21-14 on Sept. 16 and Pima beat the Wildcats 21-20 on the road in the last game of regular season Oct. 28.
Tanque Verde — Pima defeated visiting Tanque Verde 43-0 on Sept. 9 and Willcox defeated the Hawks 55-6 on the road in the regular-season finale Oct. 28.
Willcox leads the series that dates to 1948 with a 17-10 record. The Cowboys won seven straight against Pima before the Roughriders won in 2019.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District