COUNTY — It’s homecoming Friday night for the Bisbee Pumas and the St. David Tigers.

Below is a preview of Friday’s 7 p.m. games.

Valley Union (2-2) at St. David (3-1)

The St. David Tigers will be looking to put last week’s 48-26 loss to Heber Mogollon behind them when they take on the Valley Union Blue Devils, who are coming off a 48-0 loss to San Manuel.

St. David coach Braden Davis said he and his staff spent a lot of time over the weekend breaking down that game and identifying areas they need to work on while getting personnel moved around a little bit.

“Then we got right back to work on Monday preparing for our rival, Valley Union,” he said. “This is a big game for us, as it’s Valley Union and it’s a regional game that we have to win if we want to put ourselves in a position to repeat as South champs. It’s homecoming week, but that has not impacted our preparation and our guys are focused on the next step in climbing the mountain towards state.

“We must get better every week. To beat Valley, we know we have to contain their quarterback (Jace Mitchell). He’s a tremendous athlete and their offense rides on his arm and legs, but we know they have other guys who can play, too, and we’ve got to bring a complete game to the field Friday night.”

Valley Union had three players go down with injuries against San Manuel. Running back Kolby Gilbreth continues to recover from an ankle injury he suffered in practice just over a week ago.

Valley Union coach Brandon Gilbreth said his son, Kolby, along with Luis Enriquez, who was injured against the Miners, will miss the St. David game.

“The kids who are playing are excited for this game and that’s what it’s all about,” Gilbreth said. “We have no depth and we’re going to have a lot of young kids on the field. It’s football, they want to play. We’ll do our best to keep everybody safe.”

Santa Rita (0-3) at Bisbee (2-2)

A powderpuff football game, bonfire and homecoming parade have been taking place in Bisbee this week as the Pumas gear for a 2A homecoming showdown with Tucson Santa Rita Friday at Warren Ballpark.

Santa Rita has been outscored 153-6 this season. Bisbee suffered a tough 30-22 loss to Maricopa Sequoia Pathway on the road last week. The Pumas trailed 22-6, rallied to tie the game at 22-22 only to give up a late score as Sequoia handed the Pumas their its second straight loss.

“Last week’s loss to Sequoia Pathway was a tough one to swallow, but our guys came out this week and have put together some of our most focused and efficient practices of the year,” Bisbee coach Brian Vertrees said. “I told them after the game that we have no one to blame but ourselves, we gave that one away with too many mental errors in key situations late in the game. It’s really a matter of our young guys learning to close out games late. Our guys are aware that we are just a few plays away from being 4-0 on the season. It’s a process and we have to continue to learn and grow as we get into conference play next week.

“The key thing for us this week has been not to look past Santa Rita, cut down the mental errors, and tune out the distractions associated with homecoming. Coach (Tom) Joseph at Santa Rita has had a great deal of success over the course of his career and Santa Rita has been improving every week.

“Anytime you have a coach on the opposite sideline with that kind of experience and success to their name, you know it is just a matter of time before they get things turned around. The goal for us is to play at our speed and execute because we expect Santa Rita to come in and play hard and be well prepared. We have had the best week of practice I have had for a homecoming week in my tenure here and I attribute that to the mental toughness of our team and leadership from our veterans.”

Catalina (1-3) at Tombstone The Tombstone Yellow Jackets will be looking to snap a two-game skid against the Tucson Catalina Trojans.

Tombstone lost to Tucson Tanque Verde last week 54-6 while Catalina, whose lone win this season came via forfeit from Miami, was shut out 65-0 by the Queen Creek American Leadership Academy, Ironwood.

“We’ve had a good Monday and Tuesday of practice responding well after a tough loss last Friday,” Tombstone coach Dominik Bonilla said. “(The) kids’ energy is still high and they’re ready to play this week in front of their home crowd and avenge their last home loss. We look at this game as a game to get back on track before region play.”

Buena (1-1) at Sunnyside (2-1)

The Buena Colts are coming off a bye week while Tucson Sunnyside won its game over Phoenix Paradise Valley 35-7 last week.

Buena coach Joe Thomas said the bye week was good for his team.

“We have had time to get kids healthy, work on executing the Buena football way and we have been able to slow things down and focus on detail,” he said. “It’s been a quality few weeks.”

The key to winning on Friday night?

“On offense, limit the turnovers and score in the red zone,” he said. “On defense, continue to fly to the ball and create turnovers.”

Douglas (1-1) at Thatcher (4-0), canceled

Douglas High School athletic officials announced on Wednesday that Friday’s game with Thatcher has been canceled.

“Game will be canceled due to injuries and low numbers,” Douglas Athletic Director Angel Ortega said in an email.

Douglas coach Hunter Long said his team did lose some players to injury in the 42-0 loss to Safford last week and had more players get sick while a few more became ineligible.

“We had to make the tough decision of canceling our game this week against Thatcher,” Long said. “The coaching staff, athletic trainer and our athletic director discussed it, tried to see what we could do but coming into practice with only 14-15 guys on Monday was a tough sight to see, and remembering where we were a couple years ago when we went into a game with the same number and ended up playing a quarter with only 10 on the field, we’re not trying to endanger our athletes and put them in the same position when there is still a lot of season left for us.

“This decision didn’t come easy in the slightest and as a competitor, you never want to ‘throw in the towel,’ but putting all pride aside, our job is to ensure the safety and well-being of all of our student-athletes. Our guys are obviously disappointed at the decision but still extremely optimistic about what lies ahead for us and the rest of the season. We’ll use this week to recover and get ready for a short week next week against a tough Casa Grande team on the road next Thursday.”

Willcox (4-0) at Northland Prep (0-4)The Willcox Cowboys will be looking to extend their unbeaten streak to five when they face the Flagstaff Northland Prep Falcons at Phoenix Moon Valley High School.

Willcox beat Valley Lutheran 36-6 last week as junior Christian Panda carried the ball 17 times for 177 yards and scored three touchdowns.

Northland Prep lost 54-0 to Avondale St. John Paul II last week.

“It will be nice to cap off our three-game road trip to the Valley, hopefully with a win,” Willcox coach Eric Hjalmarson said.

“We are trying to get better every week to get ready for regional play, which will be huge. I believe that the 2A San Pedro Region is the toughest section this year in 2A football.”

Benson (2-1) at Veritas Prep (2-2)

The Benson Bobcats will be on the road to take on the Phoenix Veritas Prep Falcons of the 2A Gila Region.

“Veritas Prep has a good team, a good quarterback and good coaching,” Benson coach Chris Determan said. “This game is going to be a good test for us. We’ll need to play well.”

The Bobcats are 2-1 while the Falcons are 2-2.

Herald/Review Sports Editor Bruce Whetten and reporters Linda Lou Lamb and Ivan Leonard contributed to this article.


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