The football season came to an end for the Benson Bobcats Friday in the state quarterfinal game in Thatcher.
Top ranked, unbeaten and 2A defending state champion Thatcher’s 14-0 advantage early in the first quarter proved insurmountable in the Eagles’ 50-6 win over the Bobcats. Thatcher added 21 second-quarter points for the 35-0 lead at the half, then scored a touchdown and extra point to lead 43-0 at the end of the third quarter.
Shane Dezonia accounted for the Bobcats’ lone touchdown which came in the fourth quarter.
Benson’s power running game was limited to 121 yards with Carson Barney gaining 70 yards on 10 carries. The Bobcats mustered 131 yards total offense.
Defensively, Colton McFarland and Barney had six tackles while Ty Moncada and Dezonia recorded five each to lead Benson.
“We had too many mistakes against a good team,” said Benson coach Chris Determan, who guided the Bobcats to the winning 7-5 overall record and Elite 8 postseason appearance. “The kids fought hard but ended up on the short end.”
Determan is pleased with how the team progressed steadily throughout the season. The Bobcats’ handful of losses came to state quarter finalists Morenci, Round Valley, St. Johns and the defending champ Eagles, who defeated Benson twice.
“I liked the way we improved most weeks and played hard throughout. We had many obstacles to overcome this season and the kids fought through and made the best of what they were given,” the coach said.
Determan acknowledged the future appears bright with regard to Bobcats’ football but noted there is much work yet to be done.
“We need to hit the weightroom with a purpose over the off season. This will allow the boys to become bigger, faster and, of course, stronger. It also builds team unity when working for a common goal. We need continue to work to improve and the off season is a good chance to do that, which will allow us to start to get where we need to be. We also need to get those kids who had injuries back and making impacts next season.”
No. 7 St. Johns and No. 3 Round Valley will battle it out in one semifinal Saturday with Thatcher and No. 5 Phoenix Christian playing in the other. The championship game is set for Nov. 23.