Editor’s note: For full coverage on tonight’s Roswell-Goddard game, see the annual special section included in today’s newspaper.
Tonight, the 8-Man battle royal gets underway at Warrior Stadium in Roswell.
Okay tonight’s contest between Gateway Christian (4-3) the no. 7 seed in the playoffs and Menaul High School (5-4) the no. 10 seed in the playoffs may not have the hype of World Wrestling Entertainment, but tonight’s match up will determine who will face the no. 2 seed Mountainair in the next round.
The Warriors defeated Cloudcroft last week 58-8 in the regular season finale.
Gateway head coach Shaun Wigley said his team played the best game of the year last week against the Bears.
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He said the defense was able to cause some turnovers in the win over the Bears. “The offense made most of those turnovers.”
Gateway was up at the half 42-8. “First quarter we started slow and in the second we turned it on and started making plays,” Wigley said.
Wigley said the Warriors were playing to their potential and he also had praise for junior quarterback Wyatt Arlet.
“Wyatt had a ton of yards and we were just firing on all cylinders,” Wigley said.
Earlier this week, Wigley was asked how the Warriors were preparing for the Panthers.
“The best way to prepare is fix what you’re doing wrong. There is plenty in our own backyard to fix,” Wigley said.
Attitude and effort is what Wigley and his coaching staff have been hammering to the kids all week.
“Turnovers will kill you. You have to take care of the ball(and) taking ownership of every play,” he said.
When it comes to the Panthers, Wigley said they have speed on offense, especially in the quarterback and running back spots.
“(They have) willing blockers and can pass well on short and intermediate routes. (The) defense runs well to the ball and they play hard,” he said.
Menaul head coach Josh Baca said the Panthers’ season started slow, however as time marched on this year they were able to find traction to the playoff road.
He said the Panthers were missing some key players during the first four games of the season.
“The fact that we did not have a single skill position starter or defensive back return from last year’s squad. Once our boys got the reps and started feeling more comfortable, we were able to settle into our stride and win four of our last five(games),” Baca added.
The Panthers finished second in District 2 behind fellow Duke City school Foothill.
Baca said the Warriors have, “an explosive offense so we need to be able to slow them down on both sides of the ball.”
Offensively, Baca said the Panthers will need to take care of the football and have long sustained drives.
Defensively, “we need to be able to stop the pass and make the open field tackle,” Baca said.
Lovington at Artesia
Have the Lovington Wildcats turned the corner?
Comparing last year to this year, it could be said that they have.
The Wildcats (5-4,1-1) end the regular season tonight against the Artesia Bulldogs(7-2, 2-0) at the Bulldog Bowl.
Last year at this time, the Wildcats were going through the motions having won only one game and that took place on Oct. 7 at Santa Teresa. The Wildcats were able keep the Desert Warriors at bay 35-28.
Fast forward to this year and the Wildcats have four more wins than last season and they are still in the hunt for for a playoff berth.
While 5-4 may not sound like much to some, it could mean everything to Lovington head coach Anthony Gonzales.
The Wildcats started the season on Aug. 25 with a 68-54 win over Chaparral. After that was a loss to Portales and a win at home against Ruidoso.
After losing to their in-county rival Hobbs 59-27, the Wildcats almost pulled off an upset on Sept. 22 against St. Pius X.
The defending 5A state champions left Lea county with a 14-7 win.
The Wildcats started district play on Oct. 20 with a 35-28 win over Goddard.
Gonzales said that was the first district win for the Wildcats in a number of years.
Last week in Roswell, Lovington lost to the Roswell Coyotes 48-12.
Gonzales said people shouldn’t be fooled by the score.
He said the loss to Roswell was a “tough one to swallow. We left a lot of points up on the board.”
He said the Wildcats didn’t score on their first three possessions and were down 21-0 at the half.
Lovington was able to score 12 points in the third period at the Wool Bowl.
Roswell was able to shut them out in the final period and scored three touchdowns.
Gonzales added Lovington, “let one get away.”
Now tonight, the Wildcats must get ready for the Artesia Bulldogs.
To say Artesia has dominated their opponents during the last three games would be an understatement.
The Bulldogs shutout Alamogordo 50-0 in Artesia on Oct. 6. After an off week the Bulldogs traveled to the Wool Bowl on Oct. 20 and took a bite out the Coyotes 42-7 and last week at home the Bulldogs shot Goddard out of orbit 56-12.
Gonzales said Artesia is a well rounded team.
On offense the Bulldogs are led by senior Taylor Null. This season he has passed for 2,514 yards with 34 touchdowns and only three picks.
In last week’s win over Goddard, he had four TD passes.
Gonzales said the Bulldogs go, “full throttle every single snap.”
Along with being a threat in the air, Artesia also has a sound running game. Senior Robert Fernandez has carried the ball 13 times for 640 yards. The other running threat is junior Jagger Donaghe.
“The coaching staff does a good job to get the kids ready each week,” Gonzales said. “They have good players on both sides of the ball.”