Outlook: The defending champion Bears had their supremacy in the South taken away earlier in the season with a loss to Seton.
Now, they face a big test against the Bulldogs, who are gunning to bump Coolidge all the way down to third place in the region. Safford can lock up second place with a win, while Coolidge has a final region game next week against Eloy Santa Cruz.
Tonight’s game will have a playoff atmosphere, something that could play into the Bears’ hands. With veteran leadership from quarterback Jesse Wheeler and running backs T.J. White and Brad Jackson, the Bears should be able to keep their emotions in check, while the Bulldogs could let theirs get the better of them.
Coolidge coach Carlo Hernandez has made no secret of the fact his team struggles with big physical teams, and Safford has that kind of team. A key for Coolidge is to jump out quickly, hit on some big plays, and make Safford come from behind.
What Coolidge has to be wary of is allowing Safford to control the ball. Quarterback Justin Gaethje has been able to spread the ball around, but most of the yardage is picked up by running back Manny Jurado and receiver Justin Smith. Combined, these three have scored 33 of the Bulldogs’ 42 touchdowns.
Coolidge at Safford
Address: 1400 W. 11th St., Safford
Records: Coolidge 6-1, 3-1 South Region; Safford 7-1, 4-1
Last year’s meeting: Coolidge 47, Safford 14