So, if you read the Albuquerque Journal, sports writers James Yodice and Ken Sickenger, pick the local teams of Goddard to defeat Portales, and Roswell to lose on the road to Los Lunas. As a sports writer, I don’t pick the games, I just talk to the coaches and write what I see on the field.
For the local teams, don’t be upset if your favorite team loses a game or two during the season — these games are for seeding purposes for the playoffs. Your team could, in the worst case scenario, go into district play 0-7, win the last three games in district, win district and qualify for the state playoffs.
These games are important for seeding so if your school has hopes of getting into the big dance, don’t be alarmed if they lose a couple of games along the way. Remember, it is more important for your team to be playing their best-play football toward the end of the season than at the beginning of the season and peak too soon.
A lot of teams will be getting some of their key players back from injuries and academic suspensions. If some of the athletes aren’t on the field now for some mysterious reason, it may be because of academics. This is only week four of the season and there is still an eternity left to be played in the season.
According to the New Mexico Activities Association Section VIII- 8.1.1 A:
1. A student shall have a 2.0-grade point average with no Fs, based on a 4.0 grading scale, or its equivalent, for the semester grading period immediately preceding participation. For students not eligible at the semester, the next six or nine-week grading period can be used to regain eligibility.
Portales vs Goddard
Third-year Goddard football coach Chris White seems to have figured it out — they are off to their best start in his three seasons at Goddard. In his two previous seasons, Goddard has started slow (1-3) and come on like gangbusters to make the playoffs. This season, the Rockets are 2-1 and looking for more with very winnable games as they start a three-game homestand beginning with Portales this week. With a win, it would put Goddard at 3-0-1 with a bye week before welcoming the No.1 team in 5A — Los Lunas — and then Lovington.
The schedule gods smiled nicely on the Rockets this season. After Lovington, they hit the road for a game against Santa Teresa, and then close out the season at home for all their district games. Coach White seems to have hit the reset button and has his kids playing hard and focused on one game at a time.
On offense, look for No. 6 ranked Goddard to be themselves and run “student body left-right” with a direct handoff to the fullback up the middle and to wear Portales down. Once Goddard gets the run game going, look for them to load the box and run the quarterback Dalton Bowles with nine blockers. Bowles is having a good season and passing the ball with accuracy as he threw a touchdown last week to Jonah Chavez against Deming.
The thing about Goddard is they out-physical their opponents and they are going to run the ball whether they are up by 20 points or down by 20 points — they look to wear opponents down by attritions in hopes of breaking tackles and long runs.
“You know, I felt like our defensive line has played really well,” White said. “We roll a lot of kids through on our defensive front and try to keep our guys fresh.”
This season, game-breakers has been workhorse running backs, Robert Aragon and Connor Downs. Look for Bowles to find tight end Hunter Beene in the zone behind the defense for large chunks of yards after defenses come up to stop the run.
The Rockets have been solid in Special Teams with capable kicker junior Jacob Wieser adding extra points successfully this season.
Portales has bounced back from a season-opening 10-3 loss to Hope Christian to win two straight with a 36-0 romp over West Las Vegas on Friday.
Portales, when they have the ball, wants to run the spread offense and keep the ball in quarterback Julian Urioste’s hands. Urioste looks to run the speed option out the spread and is the team’s leading rusher with 258 on 56 carries.
When he throws the ball, he is 23-for-37-for 345 yards and one TD with one interception. Urioste is looking to turn the ball upfield more than he is to throw the ball. When he does hand the ball off, look for sophomore Baylor Diaz to get the majority of the carries. When they throw the ball, they look for junior wide receiver Kellan Hightower who has seven receptions on the season for 67 yards.
Portales prides itself on its toughness and will mix in its speed on defense — they will run a 50 and mix in a 43 look at times. On the defense, they get a lot of mileage out of both of their defensive ends with the leader being Romeo Gbassagee who is leading the Rams in tackles with 22 to go along with three sacks. Their other end Phillip Blidii is averaging eight tackles a game to go along with one sack. The whole game will come down to whether Goddard can stop Portales’ quarterback on defense. And when Goddard is on offense, whether they can sustain drives against the big defensive line of Portales and wear them down. Portales has to get off the field and stay out of continual long drives.
Roswell at Los Lunas
Head coach Jeremy Maupin is back for his third year after coming over from Artesia, which tells football fans familiar with Artesia football all they need to know. In what could be a playoff preview, this is an important game for seeding.
Los Lunas is ranked No. 1 in 5A football and they have perhaps the third-best quarterback in the state — in Nick Gaerlan as he threw for 273 yards last week to go along with two TDs and dynamite receivers to throw to in Andrue Garcia and Noah Gum, a defense that has only given up nine points per game this season.
“They have a really athletic quarterback,” Jeff Lynn said. “He’s very talented and an awfully good runner. He’s a better runner than he is a thrower. They have good skill kids, a good offensive and defensive fronts and maybe one of the better linebackers in the state. They’re just a good solid team, there’s not any holes and we’ll have to play well to beat them. It is not time to push the panic button.”
No. 5 ranked Roswell will have to stop Gaerlan, first, second and last. All things run through this young man. Gaerlan will drop back to pass and if his receivers are covered, he will pull the ball down and run. When they do hand the ball off, it will go to Nick Tafoya or their leading rusher Donald Thomas.
Roswell will have to rush with containment and flush him into the middle. Senior linebacker Cade Manzanares will be on showcase tonight to stop the run and spy Gaerlan. Los Lunas is averaging 252 yards passing a game and 202 yards rushing.
On defense linebacker, Alan Munoz is being touted as one of the best linebackers in the state, but their other is also a run stuffing machine in Diego Sanchez. The strength to their defense is their linemen and their defensive backs. Roswell can run on them especially out wide. Their safeties are susceptible to getting beat on play action pass. This is an old rivalry, one that Roswell is looking forward to, especially after last week’s game against Hobbs.
Look for a lot of jet sweep by the Coyotes and a lot of handoffs up the middle with some 50-50 balls to Dylan Tucker. One of the unsung heroes that no one is talking about is Joel Sanchez who continues to make plays inside the hash marks and outside as well.
Local cable outlets will be broadcasting this game for free on MY-TV. at 7 p.m.
NMMI at Hagerman
One thing about the surprising New Mexico Military Institute football team this year is that they have shown residency to bounce back quickly. They bounced back from their season-opening loss to Fort Sumner/House 48-0 at home. Then, last week they got off the bus but left their game on the bus for the first half as they trailed 14-0 in the first five minutes of the game.
“Last week we came out flat,” NMMI coach Montoya said. “I’ve been harping on them all week, that we have to get off the bus ready to go. Our team responded well and I’m pleased with how they responded and reacted. We have to get off the bus ready to roll.”
This week they travel to No. 9 Hagerman and look to move to 3-1 on the season. NMMI coach Randy Montoya has shown an enthusiasm for coaching and added some new wrinkles to the offense. NMMI has worked a Wishbone and Flex bone into their offense. They have had a couple of new kids come out and their offensive line is the strength of the team. Montoya looks to quarterback Jasper Best to make the decision on offense when they run their bones.
Montoya feels like he will have to stop Hagerman quarterback Jacob Bejarano and compares him to Carolina Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton. He also feels that Jose Rodriguez runs as hard as any back they have faced this year.
Hagerman (2-1) finally got hit in the mouth — unfortunately, it was against 3A Dexter. Dexter was just bigger, stronger and faster than the Bobcats. The one thing that coach Guy Rivers liked about his team is that they never quit on the game, him or each other.
One of Rivers’ concerns is stopping NMMI’s Wishbone attack and being overwhelmed by NMMI’s big offensive line. Rivers is also trouble by trying to move the ball against NMMI’s 44 defense and their mass on both sides of the line of scrimmage.
“We have our hands full,” Rivers said. “We have to stop the run — they are a running team. They (NMMI) power at you. We have to get off the field on third downs. We are going to have our hands full.”
Rivers is pleased with the practices his team has had this week, and that they are focused on being ready to play at home on Friday. Rivers is hoping that his receivers will catch the ball and his linemen will be able to sustain their blocks a little longer for his backs to run through.
Hatch Valley at Dexter
New Mexico Preps is calling this upset special of the week. They are picking Hatch Valley to upset the Demons on the road. Dexter is ranked the No. 2 team behind Hope Christian. Coach Arturo Duran is focused on getting through this game and what his team has done so far is nothing surprising to him.
“We have to focus on this game,” Duran said. “The wins are behind us and done with — we have to focus on now and keep moving forward.”
The Hatch Valley Bears (1-2) will come out in a spread offense and move to a single wing as well. It reminds Duran of the looks Santa Rosa gave them the first game of the season. They will also mix in some zone-read looks on offense as well. A strength for Hatch Valley is their offensive lines with a 50-50 run to pass.
On defense, the Bears will run a 34 defense with a cover two on passing downs.
“We just have to take it one game at a time,” Duran said. “Every game is going to be different and every opponent is going to be different than we face throughout the year. We just have to be ready to play mentally and physically.”
Dexter (3-0) wants to control the ball on offense and on defense make the Bears travel the length of the field.
Gateway Christian’s football game vs. Mountainair has been canceled.