Cienega and Cholla were preparing for Friday night’s game when a massive monsoon forced a postponement until 9 a.m. the following day.
It didn’t bother the Bobcats.
In its first game of the season, Cienega clobbered Cholla 58-0 on Saturday. The Bobcats’ offense hummed in its first game in two years without dual-threat quarterback Jamarye Joiner, who is now playing for the Arizona Wildcats. New starter Luis Morales made the most out of his first start under center.
“My mindset was just to stick to my own game, play my heart out for this team and do everything I need to do for this team,” the senior quarterback said. “Coming up after Jamarye Joiner, you can’t replace an athlete like that so I knew that I had to stick to my ability and believe in myself.”
Morales completed both of his pass attempts for 55 yards in the first quarter. He connected with wide receiver Terrell Hayward for a 42-yard touchdown to set the tone.
“We had some kids that didn’t touch the ball a lot today, but Luis is going to be a good player for us,” Cienega head coach Pat Nugent said.
Hayward touched the ball just three times, but finished with two catches for 55 yards, one touchdown and a kickoff return for a touchdown after the Bobcats registered a safety early in the first quarter.
Cholla struggled in its first game without star quarterback Jordan Porter, who led Southern Arizona in passing with 3,002 yards a season ago before graduating. Andrew Maerk started, but left the game early with an injury.
By halftime, Cholla was trailing 44-0 and down to its fourth-string quarterback. Game officials and coaches discussed a Cholla forfeit; however, the Chargers decided to keep playing once they learned a forfeit wouldn’t have counted toward each team’s final record, which would have affected Cienega’s playoff seeding.
There was another reason, Cholla principal Frank Armenta said: A forfeit would’ve disqualified the Chargers from any playoff hopes this season.
Cienega used its reserves in the second half. Cholla fell to 0-2.
“One thing we like about this group is that we go two-deep. We were able to rotate some kids in and the (backups) were pretty solid, so they came out and put some points up when they had the chance,” Nugent said.
Cienega’s offensive starters played just 14 snaps. They’ll be rested, if nothing else, when the Bobcats host Phoenix Sunnyslope next week. Sunnyslope lost to Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep 41-27 Friday night.
“We’re 1-0, and that’s all we can ask for,” Nugent said. “We were hoping for more reps for our (starters) and we didn’t get a real good look today, because we need to get better and we have a really good Phoenix team coming in next week so we gotta’ get better ourselves Monday through Wednesday and be ready to play Friday night against a really good team.”