St. David earns 1A South title, automatic bid to state playoffs with win over San Manuel


Through games of Oct. 14. x-Champion. y-Playoff team
2 St. David-x8-16-0455138L1
9 San Manuel-y7-25-1273172W2
13 Duncan5-34-2298224W4
20 Baboquivari3-53-3188272L3
22 Ray1-81-590232L7
23 Valley Union1-71-596333L1
24 Fort Thomas0-80-664357L8

ST. DAVID — Marek Haynie was not in the locker room at halftime Friday night to hear what must have been uplifting words by St. David coach Braden Davis and his staff with the third-ranked Tigers clinging to a narrow lead over No. 7 San Manuel.

Haynie, a finalist for Homecoming King, stood at midfield with the rest of the court throughout the break.

Although he was not voted the crown, he ruled the start of the second half against the Miners despite not being part of the halftime discussion.

His touchdown runs of 59 and 55 yards ignited St. David to a 30-point third quarter and a 69-34 win after the Tigers led 26-22 at halftime.

The victory clinches St. David’s third consecutive 1A South title and automatic bid into the state playoffs that start Oct. 21.

St. David (7-0, 5-0 1A South) finishes the region schedule Thursday at Fort Thomas (0-7, 0-5) before playing No. 1 Hayden (7-0) at Winkelman on Oct. 14. San Manuel (5-2, 3-1) can still make a push toward making the 12-team state playoffs with games at Ray on Friday and at home against Baboquivari Oct. 14 to close the regular season.

“This whole season, I’ve been struggling getting past the line and then shooting out and making those breakaway touchdowns,” Haynie said. “This game, my linemen, my blockers, really stepped up and helped me out there. They did incredible for me.”

As quick as the heavy monsoon rainfall came and went on Friday night, San Manuel was off to a 14-0 lead with 4::45 left in the first quarter.

9. ST. DAVID (5-3, 5-1)

Head coach: Braden Davis
Tigers compete in the 1A South (8-man football). *Region game. Games at 7 p.m.
8/18at Ray*W, 50-81-01-0
8/25at Baboquivari*W, 47-82-02-0
9/1at Bagdad.L, 29-72-12-0
9/8Duncan*W, 45-143-13-0
9/15at MogollonL, 44-83-23-0
9/22Valley Union*W, 49-144-24-0
9/29at San Manuel*L, 16-14 OT4-34-1
10/6Fort Thomas*W, 76-345-35-1

San Manuel QB Ralphie Valencia engineered a scoring drive on the opening possession culminating with a 28-yard yard pass to Tony Guisa Jr. After Augie Romero recovered a fumble at the St. David 36, the Miners scored on Valencia’s 4-yard run with 4:45 left in the first quarter to take a 14-0 lead.

The Tigers had to weather the storm literally and figuratively against a San Manuel team bent on ruining the Homecoming affair for St. David after the Miners suffered a 48-14 loss to the Tigers last year at their Homecoming.

“We stayed calm,” Davis said. “We felt they would play us really well. … San Manuel’s a good team. I thought we played pretty poorly and we were up four (at halftime).

“I told our guys, ‘We’re going to be fine. Keep playing our gameplan and we’ll be okay.”

When that gameplan includes senior Ryan Gooding at the controls, chances are the execution will go as expected.

With the rain still coming down heavy in the first quarter, Gooding started to shower the San Manuel defense with his seven touchdown passes — giving him 35 this season with only three interceptions.

His 22-yard touchdown pass to Koy Richardson and 37-yard strike to Matteo Carrafa tied the game at 14 going into the second quarter.

A pivotal play occurred on fourth-and-4 at the San Manuel 9 with 9:53 left in the second quarter when Gooding hit Richardson for a touchdown, putting the Tigers ahead 20-14.

“The wet ball was a little uncomfortable at the beginning of the game, but you’ve got to adapt to it,” Gooding said.

San Manuel retook the lead, 22-20, following Jakob Tafoya’s interception, which resulted in Valencia’s 22-yard touchdown pass to Mathias Medina with 5:04 left in the half.

The Miners had an opportunity to build on the lead after recovering a fumble at the St. David 29 but turned the ball over on downs at the 19.

Again, San Manuel could have distanced itself from St. David after a turnover on downs by the Tigers, giving the Miners the ball at the 40 with 2:03 left in the second quarter. The Miners again couldn’t score and St. David took over at its 20-yard line with only 22 seconds left.

That amount of time seems like 2:22 for Gooding, who two plays later connected on a 60-yard scoring pass to Carrafa with 7 seconds to go before halftime, giving the Tigers a 26-22 lead.

“He’s phenomenal,” Davis said of his quarterback. “He’s really come into his own this year. His vision on the field. His ability to make an audible when he needs to is just great. He’s seeing the field really well.”

Gooding said the locker room at halftime included the seniors providing motivation to excel in the second half.

“It’s our last regular-season home game,” said Gooding, who has good size at 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds. “(The first-half struggles) put a fire under us to perform better. We had to show out for the fans who came down here.”

“Show out” included four touchdowns in the third quarter, including Haynie’s two long runs, to take control of the game. Conner Curtis added a 17-yard touchdown run and Gooding connected on a 5-yard scoring strike to Carrafa with 27 seconds left in the quarter.

St. David doubled San Manuel’s score, leading 56-28, going into the fourth quarter and the game was a formality from there.

“I’m humbled to be able to lead these guys,” said Davis, who is 33-19 in his sixth year as head coach. “It’s a wonderful community. Our motto is, ‘We play for St. David.’ That means we try to represent the best of character, the best of sportsmanship, the best of hard work on and off the field.”

7. SAN MANUEL (6-2, 5-0)

Head coach: Ernest Ivy
Miners compete in the 1A South (8-man football). *Region game. Games at 7 p.m.
8/18at Mogollon L, 38-00-10-0
8/25at Cicero PrepL, 38-340-20-0
9/1Duncan*W, 50-121-21-0
9/8Desert HeightsW, 45-302-21-0
9/15Valley Union*W, 35-83-22-0
9/22at Fort Apache*W, 62-124-23-0
9/29St. David*W, 16-14 OT5-24-0
10/6Ray*W, 40-66-25-0
10/13at Baboquivari*------


Ryan Gooding had only one interception entering the game but had two against San Manuel, including one snared by Valencia for his seventh of the season. Valencia has 17 interceptions in his varsity career, which ties him for second-most in 1A history. Mike Johnson of Mayer had 17 from 1974-75. The record is 25 amassed by Seligman’s Joe Campbell from 1973-75. .

— Gooding completed 13 of 22 pass attempts for 261 yards with his seven touchdowns and two interceptions. Matteo Carrafa finished with four catches for 117 yards and three touchdowns. Cousins Koy and Kydin Richardson combined for 10 catches for 147 yards and four touchdowns.

Marek Haynie rushed for 180 yards on 16 carries and Conner Curtis had 50 yards on five carries. Gooding also rushed for 54 yards on six carries. Haynie, also a linebacker, had 12 tackles (three for loss).

— Koy Richardson had two interceptions and led the Tigers with 13 tackles.


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.

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