Home Sports Local Sports 100518 Fantastic football Friday Preview

100518 Fantastic football Friday Preview

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Goddard hosts Lovington on Friday night at the Wool Bowl. (Steve Notz Photo)

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What’s good on this football Friday? A lot, actually. Several local teams have byes this week: Hagerman and Dexter. Hagerman has to be the surprise local team — the Bobcats’ are ranked No. 8 in 2A and seem to be a lock for the playoffs, with winnable games down the stretch as they sit at 3-3. Last season they did not win a game. When they return from their bye the road doesn’t get any easier for them as they take on the No. 1 team in the state, Eunice, for their Homecoming game on Oct. 12. That being said, first-year coach Guy Rivers has to be considered for Coach of the Year in 2A.

Dexter’s first-year coach Arturo Duran has proven more than capable as he has added his imprint on a team that has gone 5-1 and are ranked No. 2 in 3A behind Hope Christian. Hope Christian has a showdown with New Mexico Military Institute tonight. NMMI goes into the game ranked No. 5 in 3A as well. Dexter’s offense is averaging 36 points a game and they have given up 11 points per game this season. Dexter is off this week with a bye and will open up district play against NMMI on Oct. 19, at NMMI.

Lovington at Goddard

The game that most local fans are going to want to know about is the Goddard Rockets, who are off to a 4-0-1 start. Third-year coach Chris White has his team playing well and hard. In last week’s heart-stopping, 28-27, come-from-behind win against Los Lunas, the Rockets’ did not get down on themselves or quit playing hard despite the turnovers and penalties as they fell behind 14-0.

Coach White continued to run the ball at the middle of the Tigers’ defense and go for it on fourth downs as they wore down Los Lunas physically to win the game.

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Lovington will make a trip to the Wool Bowl in hopes of pulling off another upset over the Rockets — as they did last season, 35-28, when they scored in the last minutes of the game down in Lovington. Third-year coach Anthony Gonzales has done a remarkable job turning the program around as the Wildcats made the playoffs last season in only his second year on the job. With the reclassification, they have moved out of the district and down to 4A, with Alamogordo replacing them in 5A. In district 4A the Wildcats are ranked No. 6. and are sitting at 3-3.

Lovington has played a tough non-conference schedule, where they have played the likes of Hobbs, Capital and Artesia.

“The key for us to be successful against Goddard,” coach Anthony Gonzales said, “is to make great plays on first down. Goddard is very methodical in what they do and they are very content with getting four yards on every down.”

Lovington feels like they have to stop Goddard quarterback Dalton Bowles and feel like he might be the most talented quarterback they have faced all season. Lovington wants to make it a long night for the Rockets’ offense and make them play in third and long situations.

“(Dalton) Bowles controls the tempo of their offense,” Gonzales said. “We must get stops on him. On offense, we want to establish the run game. We have been improving every week, but this week we are going to see one of the best defenses that we have seen all year. Their (Goddard) defense plays a million miles per hour so we need to match their physicality and effort. My coaching staff and football team have a ton of respect for Coach White and his football program.”

When Lovington has the ball Goddard must force quarterback Casey Perez to throw the ball and they will have to stick to their man and not allow receivers to get behind their defensive backs. The Wildcats will operate out of the spread offense and will look to throw the ball 80 percent of the time.

“They’re an explosive team,” Goddard coach Chris White said. “Their quarterback (Casey Perez) is one of the most elusive quarterbacks in the state. We’ll definitely have our hands full trying to control him. Lovington’s an old-school rivalry game and I know their kids are going to play hard, and we try to prepare the same every week. We will have to bring our A game.”

In games against Roswell, Perez would run the scramble drill and run backwards buying time before finding a receiver behind Roswell’s defensive backs to complete passes on third and long.

Perez is also the Wildcats’ leading rusher with 282 yards.

Roswell at Cathedral

Roswell was looking for a game and found it in the Cathedral Fighting Irish. The Fighting Irish are 0-3 but they have played some impressive teams. Cathedral is a private school that won the private school state championship last year for their division.

The biggest thing Cathedral has going for them — that Roswell has to overcome — is that Cathedral is a lot bigger across the O- and D-lines, going about 220 per man, with a couple of linemen weighing 280 and another 260 pounds. Roswell will have the speed advantage.

Not only will Roswell travel, they will have to play Texas rules. Meaning they play NCAA rules. Cathedral can cut Roswell’s linebackers, something that is not allowed here in New Mexico. There is no mercy rule and teams can run the ball out of the end zone.

“Our linebackers aren’t used to being cut at the second level,” Roswell coach Jeff Lynn said. “That’s a little concerning. It is what it is. We were looking for a game and we were fortunate to find one.”

On offense, Cathedral will throw the ball a 60-40 mix out of a double, and split backs with a little bit of isolation. Their quarterback does throw the ball well.

On defense, Cathedral is a split team with a 44 look. The last time Roswell saw a defense like that was against Lovington in week one.

“We need to get off the bus and play well,” Lynn said. “I think we are going to have to throw the ball more this game than we have had to in other games because they are bigger than us. They will use a heavy box and put six guys in the box to make it heavy. On defense, we have to stop the run and make them throw the ball.”

Cathedral’s nemesis is their Special Teams — they have given up touchdowns on kickoff returns.

New Mexico Military Institute at Hope Christian

6 p.m. Saturday at Hope Christian

On Saturday it is going to be the immovable object meeting the unstoppable force as New Mexico Military Institute travels to Hope Christian to see how good they are. The Huskies are the No. 1 ranked team in 3A and have not had a close game after their season-opening scare against Portales, which took them three overtimes to win, 10-3.

“They’re a very good team,” NMMI coach Randy Montoya said. “You don’t stay undefeated by accident. Their overall team speed is impressive. On defense, they swarm to the ball really well, and on offense, they make a lot of big plays with their speed.”

NMMI’s head coach is off to one of his best starts in a long time at NMMI. The former Blue Trophy-winning coach is showing folks he hasn’t forgotten how to coach football and that last season was just one of those seasons all coaches have if they coach long enough.

“I knew we had the opportunity,” Montoya said, “because we had kids coming back. Those kids played most of last year. It’s been nice that we have been able to pull it together after the season we had last year.”

With each win has come confidence in themselves and their team. NMMI comes into the game ranked No. 5 in 3A and has a very good shot at making the playoffs if they were to start today. As mentioned earlier they will have a showdown with the No. 2 team in the state, the Dexter Demons, but coach Montoya is focused on slowing down the Huskies this Saturday.

“We are going to have to play a good clean game and take care of the ball,” Montoya said. “We have to capitalize on the opportunities that we get.”

Coach Montoya is happy that they have been able to add offense and plays they (NMMI) haven’t used in years. With the wishbone look and the option attack. With their big linemen, NMMI wants to shorten the game and run the ball and try to keep Hope Christian’s offense off the field. In order to do that, NMMI will have to get off the bus ready to play. They cannot take two quarters to get warmed up — if they do they could be down double digits, and no one knows if they have the big play ability to come back with a team the caliber of the Huskies.

“We’ve been harping all week that we have to come off the bus ready to play,” Montoya said. “We have to get ready to rock and roll immediately.

Look for Hope Christian to run the spread offense with three and four wide receivers. They will hand it off to Jared Knowles to keep teams honest.

On defense, they will run a split man with defensive linemen Zach Griego and Chance Mitchell disrupting things on the line.

Mesilla Valley Christian School at Gateway Christian

Gateway Christian will have to figure out how to spot the spread offense of the SonBlazers. They have good height and speed at the wide receiver positions, and their quarterback throws the ball well on deep patterns and will hurt teams with the big play.

On defense, their linebackers flow well to the ball.

“Our team was rusty last week,” Gateway Christian coach Shaun Wigley said. “We had a slow start to the game, our execution was lacking and we had some sloppy tackling. We look better in practice this week. We’re looking forward to playing two weeks in a row.”

On defense, look for Gateway to deal with a hybrid 3-4 look. The player the Warriors will have to look out for is Noah Coyle. Coyle plays everywhere and is versatile. Michael Johnson plays wide receiver and cornerback and on defense look for Gateway Christian to have to deal with Scott Wilkinson, who causes havoc as a linebacker.

“Coach Wigley does a great job coaching his team every year,” Coach Salas said. “This year is no different, and just like past years, their offense is explosive.”