Tonight’s home game against Los Lunas is a pivotal game for the Roswell Coyotes, and from a schedule standpoint, it is only going to get worse. The Coyotes will face Belen, Farmington, Santa Fe and Alamogordo, before beginning district play against 29-time state champ Artesia on Oct. 20.
New Mexico Preps is calling this game the marquee matchup of the week with the Coyotes being ranked as the No. 3 team in the NM Preps top 5A rankings, and the Tigers at No 4.
If that doesn’t make the road to the Blue Trophy hard enough, they must do it without junior quarterback Ethan Valenzuela. Valenzuela suffered a season-ending injury last week, which contributed to a 41-15 loss to Hobbs on the road.
The Tigers hired a new coach in Jeremy Maupin. Maupin used to be an assistant coach at Artesia, and brings a lot of their concepts with him. On offense, they will throw the ball to their receivers, while looking to score fast.
Los Lunas won its first game in a shootout against Azetc 60-54. In their second game of the season, they outscored Alamogordo 54-0, and last week ripped Del Norte 43-0. If the Coyotes are to have any chance, they must slow the Tigers’ passing game down. When the two teams played last year, Los Lunas won handily, 49-14.
“This will be their toughest test to date,” Roswell coach Jeff Lynn said. “They look like Artesia north. They run the same offense. It is what we see when we face Artesia.”
Lynn expects a different look on defense from the Tigers; he expects them to run a split-six defense, which is basically a four-four, meaning they will have four D-linemen and walk up two linebackers to the outside of the line of scrimmage causing havoc on the Coyotes’ option game. With their defensive backs, they will play a lot of man-to-man with a cover three look.
“On offense, we have to do something to back their linebackers off the ball,” Lynn said. “It presents a challenge to us, last year they sprung it (defense) on us. This year we are more prepared for it.”
For Roswell to win, they must get stable play from their quarterback. Lynn will make a game-time decision on who will be the starter. Whoever the quarterback is must throw the ball well enough to back the Tigers’ defense off enough to allow their running game to take over the game. If Roswell’s quarterback should throw more than 20 times, it will not be a good sign for the Coyotes.
“Their quarterback is the biggest challenge our defense faces,” Lynn said. “He is a scrambler and a lot of their offense comes when their plays break down, and he goes and makes a play.”
Roswell’s offense must run for over 300 yards to have a chance to win. On defense, they must contain Los Lunas quarterback Nick Gaerlan, as the Tiger offense is averaging more than 52.3 points a game.
“They are in our division,” Lynn said. “This is potentially a playoff matchup if they take care of their business, and we take care of our business; we could see them again.”
Goddard at Clovis
Goddard coach Chris White has to get his team to close out games and make stops when it matters most. The Rockets go on the road to face the dangerous Clovis Wildcats in a tough environment. Last week at home, the Rockets could not stop the Carlsbad Cavemen on their final possession of the game. Carlsbad quarterback Jaykan Willis scored on a quarterback sneak with 8 seconds to play in the game.
If not for the last drive the Rockets could be 2-1, instead of a two-game losing streak. If they were to lose this game, they’ll be 1-3 with district games against Artesia and Roswell left to play.
For Goddard to get off the snide, they must contain the Wildcats’ quarterback Brandt Davis, and their running back Demarious Milton, who has rushed for 311 yards in the first three games of the season.
“I thought my kids played hard last week,” White said. “We’re a work in progress. I’m proud of my team.”
When Clovis has the ball, look for them to try to spread the Rockets out, but they really want to run the ball out of that formation. Last week, Clovis coughed up the ball twice as they lost in overtime to Rio Rancho 34-31.
“We have to go in and play good sound football,” White said, we must block and execute.”
Dexter at Tucumcari
Dexter seems to be hitting their stride after a tough season-opening loss to Santa Rosa. Not only have they found a one-two punch at tailback with the quick-hitting Nick Cobos, and the long-striding Gustavo Macias, who scored all three of the Demon touchdowns last week against Hagerman in their 23-0 shutout.
“We have to get better every week,” said Dexter coach Kevin Graham. “The inconsistencies and penalties concern me about our team, that’s not what we do. We’re not that great of a team yet to where we can overcome those mistakes. We’ve got to be clean.”
One area of concern is that the Demons must find a way to throw the ball when needed. Dexter can throw swing passes out of the backfield, and a few slants and a quick five-yard out, but nothing to stretch the defense. In a tight game, they are going to have to stop teams from loading the box on them with eight defenders.
Part of the problem with the Demons is they have yet to establish on identity on offense. Coach Graham intimated his team didn’t know if they are a spread team, option team, a power running team or a finesse team.
“It’s a long trip,” Graham said. “They are always very sound, and it will be a challenge for us. We just have to get better.”
Fort Sumner/ House at Hagerman
Hagerman scheduled their homecoming against Fort Sumner. Hagerman is a young team that is taking their lumps this year with 26 players. On offense, they are starting two freshmen and have replaced a couple of starters due to injury.
They can run the ball up the middle effectively, and sometimes on sweeps. However, when it comes to passing, forget it, it is like a tidal wave of defenders putting pressure on quarterback Jakob Bejarano. Bejarano was running for his life last week, and sacked 10 times by the Dexter Demon defense.
“We are a young team,” said Hagerman head coach Adrian Olivas. “We have a few injuries on the O-line. We’re a little short-handed, but the (kids) are not going to quit, and we are going to keep coaching them. Fort Sumner is very good, and we are not going to back down from them. We’ll play the best we can and hopefully put some points on the board.”
Give first-year coach Olivas credit, he has his team playing hard and not giving up, as last week’s 23-0 loss to Dexter was due to attrition.
Animas at Lake Arthur
Lake Arthur bounced back last week over Hondo Valley 55-12. They lost their season opener to Reserve 42-22.
Gateway Christian opened the season with a victory against Logan 50-0 on Sept. 1. Their next game will be played at 7 p.m. on Sept. 22 at Dora /Elida.