Last year was another exciting year on the local sports scene.
We had local athletes signing scholarships, allowing them to take their skills on to the next level.
We had tournament and region champions and, coaches and athletes honored at county and state level.
Cochise College added to the excitement with the success of not only the men’s and women’s basketball teams, but also the baseball, soccer, and rodeo teams.
The year began with the Lady Bulldogs basketball team winning the San Carlos tournament which was soon followed by the announcement that James Fitzgerald was stepping down as head coach of the Bulldog football team so that he could accept an assistant coaching position at a college in North Carolina.
Former Douglas Bulldog, Alonso Tapia signed a volleyball scholarship to Arizona Christian University. What made this signing so unique was that Douglas has no boys’ volleyball team. Tapia had been a volunteer assistant coach for the Lady Bulldogs volleyball team where he picked up the game; went to a tryout at ACU, and came away with a scholarship, allowing him to continue his education.
In late January, the Douglas Bulldog soccer team captured the Gila Region championship for the second straight year. The championship allowed the Bulldogs to host a first-round game in February where they would knock off the Glendale Cardinals, 2-0, advancing on to the second round in Flagstaff where they would lose 2-1.
On Tuesday, Feb. 5, Ximena Iniguez scored eight points in a 48-46 win over Palo Verde on Senior Night at DHS. Those eight points were enough to push her past the 1,000-point mark making her one of the select few Lady Bulldog basketball players to accomplish such a feat.
The Lady Bulldogs soccer team, who finished second in the Gila Region, fell to Salpointe 5-1 in the first round of the 4A state playoffs.
The Cochise College men’s and women’s basketball teams each won their respective conference championships in February.
Several weeks later, the top-seeded Apaches would end up getting upset by Eastern Arizona College 102-94 in double overtime in the first round of the Region 1 playoffs.
The Lady Apaches hosted their rivals from Central Arizona College on Friday, March 8. At stake was the Region 1 championship and a trip to nationals. Cochise won the game, 64-48, securing the Region 1 title for the third consecutive year. Unfortunately, things did not go so well at nationals as Cochise fell to Florida Southwestern, 78-75, in overtime snapping a 19-game winning streak.
Jerry Carrillo, head coach of the men and Laura Hughes, head coach of the women, were named the Region’s Coach of the Year. Meanwhile, Todd Inglehart, baseball coach for the Cochise College baseball team, notched his 700th career win.
Baseball, softball, tennis and track season was underway locally. The Lady Bulldogs softball team won their own tournament in March, beating Flowing Wells 12-1 in the finals.
Douglas’ “interim” athletic director Katie Walker was named by her fellow athletic directors as the Gila Region’s Athletic Director of the Year. Angel Ortega, who had left Douglas the year before to become the new AD in Nogales, was hired to be Douglas’ AD.
April saw the DHS baseball and softball team post winning streaks while the Apache baseball team was also cruising, at one point being ranked as high as fifth in the nation, winning the conference championship later that month earning them the right to host Central Arizona College. Cochise would end up losing two games to fourth seeded Central. What was unknown at that time was just how good this CAC team was. Central would go on later that month to become national champions after winning the Junior College World Series.
The Cochise College women’s rodeo team was also crowned champions of the Grand Canyon Region in May and would later compete at the College National Finals Rodeo in Wyoming over the summer.
The Bulldog baseball team would finish second in the Gila Region and qualify for state, only to lose 11-5 to Canyon Del Oro in the first round of the playoffs.
The Lady Bulldogs won the Gila Region championship in softball. Douglas would later defeat Gila Ridge, 2-1, in a thrilling game at DHS and would advance on in the state tournament eventually being eliminated by Vista Grande.
Horse racing returned to the Cochise County Fairgrounds in May and several Douglas High School athletes were honored as the athlete of the year in their respective sport at the Best of Preps ceremony that was sponsored by the Sierra Vista Herald and Wick Communications, in early May. This event recognized the best athletes from all over Cochise County. The athletes that were honored were: Alek Samaniego, boys’ soccer; Brianna Guzman, girls’ soccer; Ximena Iniguez, girls’ basketball; Aliana Gallego, girls wrestling, and Litzy Arevalo, Nayeli Moreno and Elian Villasenor, the cheer/dance athletes of the year.
In softball, Alondra Lugo was named the Gila Region’s Player of the Year; Isabel Tanabe, the Gila Region’s Defensive Player of the Year, and Lorena Tapia was honored as the Gila region’s Coach of the Year.
In baseball, Diego Alan Ochoa was named the Gila Region’s Defensive Player of the Year.
The month ended with a major announcement very few saw coming. Former Bulldog Hunter Long had been selected the head football coach at Douglas High School. Long would put his players through conditioning workouts all summer long, with the date of July 29 being circled as the first day of football practice.
Little League baseball as well as summer league softball seasons were in full swing. Both the baseball and softball would send All-Star teams on to their respective tournaments.
In June, it was announced that head basketball coach John Batty was stepping down. Weeks later, his assistant, Abner Cortez, was named the new head coach.
In July, Douglas’ 8-10-year-old All-Stars would fall to Nogales, 7-5, in the District 8 finals that were played in Douglas. The Douglas Viper softball team would go on to compete in the Pony Softball World Series in California and finish with a 2-3 record.
July ended with football practice in full swing with the scrimmage, season opener, and the game with Bisbee, were all less than a month away.
The much-anticipated season opener with Tanque Verde scheduled for August 23, was delayed 17 hours as Mother Nature hit Douglas with a vengeance. Lighting in the area delayed the opening from Friday night to Saturday afternoon. The Bulldogs won the game, 49-7, giving Coach Long his first win as head coach while the anxiety grew in anticipation of the upcoming game with Bisbee.
Things did not go as well as fans would have liked against Bisbee as the Bulldogs were defeated 36-21, and would also lose five key players in this game, setting off what would later be deemed a season decimated by injures.
Bosco Selchow began his 30th season as head coach of the DHS golf team.
In a 45-14 loss to Silver City, the Bulldogs lost five more players to injury, starting the game with 19 players and finishing with 14.
Homecoming was scheduled for Oct. 4 against the Pueblo Warriors. Douglas would lose the game 39-14. Bruce Whetten, longtime editor of the Douglas Dispatch was this year’s dedicatee. The royalty was, Damariz Miranda and Trey Rose (queen and king), Brendy Berthely and Daniel Larez (first attendants) and Cariela Miramontes and Francisco Lugo (second attendants).
The Cochise College Lady Apaches soccer team won the ACCAC championship in October and would later lose to Arizona Western 1-0 in the semifinals of the Region 1 playoffs, Halloween day. Former Lady Bulldog Brianna Guzman, who was on scholarship, playing goalie for the Lady Apaches, was named the NJCAA National Goalie of the Week once during the season and was the Region 1 Goalie of the Week on two separate occasions. Coach Peters would later be honored as the Region 1 Coach of the Year and Maria Azarias was named the Player of the Year. In December, Azarias was named an honorable mention women’s soccer All-American.
The Bulldogs beat Palo Verde, 43-35, on Senior Night at DHS where 12 seniors were playing their last home game. Douglas would end its season a week later with a 48-13 loss at Rio Rico, ending the year 3-7 overall, 1-4 in region play.
Douglas’ peewee Chargers won the SAYFL championship Oct. 23, capping off an undefeated season, beating the Sierra Vista Spartans 28-12.
The Chargers midget division team was also unbeaten going into their championship game with Benson, but ended up losing 20-18.
The Douglas Charger flag and midget division cheerleaders would win the Southern Arizona Youth Football and Cheer competition that was held Nov. 2 in Sierra Vista.
Madison Green was selected the Gila Region’s Defensive Player of the Year In volleyball for the second straight year. The Lady Bulldogs ended the year on a six-game winning streak giving them a 10-8 overall record and a 6-4 mark in region. Unfortunately, it was not enough to get them into the state playoffs.
In cross country, Jenally Barco and Sophia Rico both qualified for the state meet in Queen Creek, finishing 93rd and 134th respectively, in the field of 178 runners.
DHS softball pitcher Alondra Lugo signed scholarship commitment papers with Eastern Arizona College in Thatcher.
Both the Apache men and women got off to hot starts in basketball in November, but then struggled in December as both teams went into the Christmas break with a 3-3 conference record.
The Bulldog basketball team beat Safford by 10 in the season opener Nov. 26, giving Cortez his first win as head coach. Bulldog Francisco Lugo would etch his name into the record books becoming the second DHS basketball player in less than a year to reach the 1,000-point mark in his career. With 11 games still to play in 2019 Lugo currently has 1,091 points.
The Lady Bulldogs soccer team finished second at their season opening tournament at Amphi; the Bulldog soccer team advanced as far as the quarterfinals of the Brandon Bean Invitational, and the Lady Bulldogs basketball team finished third at the Benson Holiday Classic.
That’s a look back at the 2019 year in sports.