Douglas earns “The Pick” trophy second consecutive year against rival Bisbee

BISBEE — The longtime rivals played a football game Friday night but Bisbee coach Brian Vertrees and Douglas coach Hunter Long engaged in something like a field-positioning chess match that went to the extreme of Vertrees twice calling punts on third down to catch the Bulldogs off-guard in attempt to place them deep in their territory.

Punting prior to fourth down was a common tactic in the days of the single-wing offense and scoreless ties, which is fitting because the teams played for the 152nd time since “The Pick” rivalry started in 1906.

Douglas overcame Bisbee 10-8 in the grueling affair in front of an overflow crowd at the historic Warren Ballpark that housed the likes of Babe Ruth and Honus Wagner because of the Warren-Bisbee train tracks that ran behind the outfield wall until 1928.

“These last two years, these two games have been too stressful for me, coming down to the wire. It always is — Douglas-Bisbee is one of the great rivalries in the country,” said Long, whose Bulldogs beat visiting Bisbee 24-21 last season after the Pumas missed a long-range field goal as time expired.

“It’s always a good game. That’s just it. We fought hard. The guys were disciplined at the end.”

Long, a Douglas alum who was a defensive lineman on Arizona’s 2014 Pac-12 South championship team, placed an emphasis when he said “at the end.” He went on to say, “we made too many mistakes throughout the game, but when it mattered, we made it count.”

Douglas and Bisbee combined for more penalties (20) than points (18) in the game.

The Bulldogs, playing their season opener, were flagged 12 times for 105 yards. The Pumas, 1-1 following last week’s 16-6 win at Eloy Santa Cruz, were flagged eight times for 85 yards.

The most significant play in the game occurred in Bisbee’s second possession of the game.

The Pumas started at their own 7-yard line with 9 seconds left in the first quarter and kept the 16-play drive going behind the rushing of Diego Chavez for 9 minutes and 7 seconds before Emiliano Bertheley leaped for an interception and made a 75-yard return for a touchdown with 3:16 remaining in the half to give Douglas a 7-0 lead.

“I feel like I played with confidence today,” said Bertheley, a junior who also had a 45-yard reception and rushed seven times for 67 yards. “The confidence really boosted my energy.”

One of Bisbee’s punts on third down pinned Douglas at its 9 but a 30-yard run by Vicente Cardona followed by a 45-yard pass from Aiden Rodriguez to Bertheley put the ball at the Bisbee 15 in the waning seconds of the first half.

Lucas Castillo ultimately made a 31-yard field goal as time expired in the half in what proved to be the scoring difference in the game.

“It means everything especially because I’m leaving high school after this,” Cardona said while holding “The Pick” trophy. “I’m keeping ‘The Pick’ home so the other classes can do it. It’s great.”

Cardona rushed 15 times for 100 yards to help Douglas improve its series advantage to 81-64-8 over Bisbee since it began in 1906 at old Don Luis Park in Bisbee. The Pumas kept “The Pick” in six of the previous nine years the teams played before Douglas’ victories the last two years.

The Pumas’ defense in the second half forced two punts and stopped Douglas on downs after the Bulldogs drove to the Bisbee 35 toward the end of the third quarter.

That occurred after Chavez and the Pumas’ offense finally broke through for a scoring drive culminating with Chavez’s 25-yard touchdown run with 2:40 left in the third quarter. A two-point conversion run by quarterback Sebastian Lopez cut the lead to 10-8.

Chavez finished with 124 yards on 22 carries. Lopez was also an effective rusher with 41 yards on 14 carries.

Bisbee attempted only two passes in the game, neither completed. The Pumas relied on the rushing game, amassing on 175 yards on 44 rushes.

Douglas’ defense stopped Bisbee on downs and forced the Pumas to punt in Bisbee’s last two possessions of the game.

Bisbee punted with 4:52 left rather than go for a first down on a fourth-and-8 situation at its own 41. The Pumas were hopeful the defense could force a punt or cause a turnover.

That didn’t materialize.

Douglas ran out the clock with eight straight runs that produced four first downs. In that clinching drive, Bertheley had three rushes for 30 yards and Cardona four carries for 26 yards.

“It feels good; it just shows how good our line and our run crew is,” Bertheley said of the last grind-it-out possession.

Douglas has a week off before traveling to Cholla on Sept. 16. The Chargers lost their opener 42-20 to Pueblo on Friday night.

Bisbee will host Benson (2-1) in another U.S Route 80 rivalry game of southeastern Arizona schools on Friday. The schools have traditionally played in the same region but Benson moved from 2A to 3A this season.


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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
To Top