Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Not many people know there’s a new No.1 football team in 5A, and it’s the Goddard Rockets. The voters at Max Preps thought little of Roswell’s 55-6 rout over Cathedral on Friday night. Goddard (5-0-1) meanwhile handled Lovington 49-28 last week with ease, and it could have been worse. The Rockets will put their new No.1 ranking on the line tonight when they travel to Santa Teresa (6-0) to take on the No.6 ranked team.
Piedra Vista at Roswell
That should make for an interesting game tonight at the Wool Bowl as the No.2 team Roswell Coyotes will play the No.5 team in 5A, the Piedra Vista Panthers. This is a game that will test the Coyotes physically as they will be outmanned on both sides of the line of scrimmage.
“They’re good,” Roswell football coach Jeff Lynn said. “They beat Belen by about the same score we did. They held Los Lunas to about 22 points, and the loss to Kirtland Central is a little bit deceiving. As of late, they have played well — they’re 4-2. We’ve got some history with them. We played them three times in four years. We played them once in the quarterfinals and lost to them.”
This game is going to come down to whether Roswell can stuff the run and get off the field on third down. If they cannot, it is going to be a long game as the Panthers average 240 pounds per man on the offensive line and their center, Benjamin Rasmussen, is 6-foot-4 and weighs 300 pounds.
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On offense, look for the Panthers to run the offense that Roswell ran last year when they pounded the ball to Gabe Najar. Piedra Vista will go from under center and run a Wing-T, Veer type of offense and will run quick pitch. The lead running back for them is Mckay Cook. Their quarterback can and will throw the ball at times and will pull it down and run it.
“They are a ground and pound football team,” Lynn said. “They are good, it is going to be important for us to be able to stop the run. We can’t allow them to run over us.”
On defense, they ran a 50.
This game will resemble Belen in their approach to ground and pound. The difference is that the Panthers have experience and want to make the game ugly. Pierre Vista wants to pound the ball on the ground and wear down the Coyotes so that late in the fourth quarter, the runs that were getting 1-yards become 10-yard runs because Roswell is tired.
Piedra Vista has to find a way to slow down the Coyotes’ explosive offense. Roswell has a mix of backs in Jasia Reese, Roderick Sedillo, Dominic Nava, power back Justin Carrasco and perhaps the team’s MVP of the year so far in Joel Sanchez. When they throw the ball, look for them to go deep on 50-50 balls to Dylan Tucker. The Panthers will have to find a way to slow down the pinball point-a-minute Coyotes who are averaging 43.7 points per game.
On defense, the Coyotes have only allowed 15 points per game after giving up 42 to Hobbs in the second game of the season. All-State linebacker Cade Manzanares to have his hands full tonight. If he is making a lot of tackles in or at the line of scrimmage, then it will be a good night for the Coyotes. If he is making tackles 7 yards downfield then it will not be a good night for the defensive line of Roswell.
Roswell has the advantage on Special Teams with their cluster formation and they have returned a punt or kickoff return for the last five games. Look for speedster Xavier Gonzales to get many looks and touches and give the Coyotes a spark to turn the momentum of the game around.
Goddard at Santa Teresa
Third-year Goddard football coach Chris White has to be smiling inside. Why? His team has been voted the No.1 football team in 5A off of last week’s dominating performance with their 49-28 win over Lovington, which was enough to overtake Roswell at the top position.
Goddard takes to the road for the last time this season, as they face the undefeated No.6 team in Santa Teresa. This is the first meeting between the two teams since Goddard won, 43-0 in the opening game of 2007 season.
Goddard has to contend with the massive left guard who weighs 360 pounds. The Desert Warriors like to run behind him when they run the ball out of the spread. They will also play pitch and catch with their 6-foot-4 receiver.
“We have been fairly consistent with our defense,” Goddard coach Chris White said. “That’s really key — can you get stops? When you’re on the field with your offense, can you keep your offense on the field and the other team’s offense off the field? You complement each other and the kids have done a good job with that this year.”
In the mind of Desert Warriors coach Shea Vierra, he has to wonder how good his (6-0) team is because of who they have played and the physicalness of Goddard football. This season, his team has a chance to make the playoffs something they didn’t do last year after going 6-4. He knows that all five teams in District 4-5A got into the playoff (Roswell, Goddard, Lovington and Artesia).
“None of the teams we have played so far this season have compared to Goddard,” Santa Teresa head coach Shae Vierra said. “We’ve never been ranked this high before. We have never been in a game where we’ve had two highly ranked teams playing. We get to play them at home. Maybe we can give them a game this time.”
The Desert Warriors are approaching this game as a playoff game and they need and want to make a big statement and play well being on the big stage with the storied football program of Goddard. Santa Teresa is a team of veterans on offense — they run a spread look with nine seniors returning. Sometimes they will be three wide or two-by-two with one back. On offense, they almost mirror Goddard where they’re a quarterback run-first offense, with their quarterback being the team’s leading rusher.
“We’re telling our kids that this is the biggest game they have ever played,” Vierra said. “If we want to get the recognition around the state, they got to play well and show up Friday night. At the same time, we know next week that district is coming up and that’s more important and if we lay an egg, we won’t make the playoffs at all. We let our kids know it’s big, but don’t lose sight of the big picture.”
The Desert Warriors like to run the ball 70 percent of the time. Coach Vierra likes to take his running backs that can throw and turn them into quarterbacks.
“We are similar to Goddard in our quarterback runs first,” Vierra said, “Goddard runs a lot more options than we would run. Some years we’ve run the option as they do, but I don’t think our quarterback, Izaiah Velazquez can read like their quarterback (Dalton Bowles) can. We just took it out of the offense this year.”
On defense, they run a 4-2-5 and start two seniors, which could be problematic for the young Desert Warriors.
“Goddard is going to be a handful for us,” Vierra said. “They scare us, but I tell our team that we’re good, too. If we want to show teams we can compete, this is the type of game we need to compete in whether we come out on top or not. We’ve got to see what the great football teams look like with the Goddard’s, Roswell’s and Artesia’s. Our kids need to see what it’s like and want to get there.”
Goddard has been able to rotate their offensive and defensive players so they are fresh at the end of the game.
“We are trying to develop depth,” White said, “and let kids get experience. So far, we have been able to do that. Anytime you win it is good for your confidence. Whenever you get in those games and it comes right down to it, it’s good to have seniors who have been in that situation before. That’s been nice because we have had some really good senior leadership this year. That’s a big deal and that matters.”
Dexter at Portales
Dexter, the No.2 ranked team in the state behind Hope Christian, travels to Portales to take on the Rams. In a game that was closer than the 27-0 score would indicate last season, Dexter had its chances to move the ball and get into the end zone.
This year with a complete running game and a seasoned offensive line with explosive speed and skill, look for the Demons to do what has worked all season for them — to control the clock and the line of scrimmage.
Dexter has to get off the field on third downs and not let the Rams impose their power running game on them. In their loss to Eunice earlier this season, Dexter got behind and had to throw the ball to catch up.
“I remember last year we had a chance to win the game,” Duran said. “Their quarterback, Urioste, would scramble on fourth and long and pick up a first down. We have to make them beat us by throwing the ball.”
Coach Arturo Duran has made all the right moves this season. Look for his team to establish the tone early and run at the middle of the Rams’ defense and then run the toss to the left and right to get the Rams to move laterally as the second half of the game winds downs to slow down their legs.
“We have to contain their quarterback, Julian Urioste,” Duran said. “He’s the best athlete on the team. Even when his receivers are covered, he would rather pull the ball down and run it. We have to make sure he doesn’t beat us.”
Portales will run a lot of traps with the quarterback and run the ball to keep the defenses honest. Urioste will also run a power sweep to either side of the field.
On defense, Portales will run a 3-3-5. With this defense, the Rams count heavily on their two tackles to stuff the run and hold up the opposing tackles so their linebackers can flow freely to the ball.
“We have to be patient with them,” Duran said. “We have to maintain so our guys can run the ball.”
Eunice at Hagerman
What more can anyone ask of the upstart Hagerman Bobcats? They have upset teams and played a tough non-conference schedule. Now comes former 3A champions from 2017, and the current No.1 2A team in the state: Eunice Cardinals. Not only are they No. 1, but this is Hagerman’s homecoming and last home game of the season to boot.
“I told our team,” Rivers said, “Eunice puts their pants on one leg at a time. Go out there and play hard, that’s how upsets happen. Go out and play hard that’s the only thing we can do, and we’ll see how it goes.”
This is the first game of district for both teams. When Eunice has the ball, they run out of a spread and try to have a balance between running and passing. The Cardinals have a versatile offensive line and kids that have been in the system for a couple of years. Eunice tries to take what the defense gives them when they have the ball.
“I’m impressed with their quarterback,” Cardinals coach Ken Stevens said. “He’s got a good arm and throws the ball well, and their athletes have some quicks to them. We have to prepare for them and be worried about them.”
Hagerman will have to stop the running of quarterback Mason Caperton and a trio of running backs as well as receivers.
On defense, the Cardinals will run a 4-2-5. They will start nine seniors on defense, so it may be tough for Hagerman to move the ball with the experience on the defensive side of the ball.
“We try to be physical with teams,” Stevens said. “We try to let our speed make up for our mistakes on that side (defense) of the ball. It has allowed us to play really well.”
Gateway at Tatum
This is the showdown for first place. Both teams come into the game undefeated in district play. This will be the stiffest test that Gateway Christian has faced yet. Gateway Christian is ranked No.1 and Tatum is No.2 in New Mexico Class 8 Man Rankings, so this game has implications down the road. The winner of this game will be in the driver seat toward the playoffs and seeding.
“Tatum is ranked No.2 in the state for a reason,” Gateway Christian Shaun Wigley said. “They have beaten a lot of the toughest competition to this point and they have gotten better on both sides of the ball since our early encounter. It will be a good test for us and an opportunity to compete — that’s all you can ask for.”
On offense, the Coyotes will run several sets out of a tight formation and try to beat the Warriors on alignment. They will want to use the pass to set up the run. They will also run out of the single wing and the spread as well. The Coyotes are truly a balanced team with 50-50 run to pass.
On defense, they will run a 34 and mix man-to-man coverages on the back end.
“As far as us (Warriors), we have to keep our head down and work,” Wigley said. “We have missed weeks and have tons of room to improve, both mentally and physically. We’ve had a good week of practice and have played two games in district. The next three teams can beat us if we don’t bring our best every week. On Friday, I’ll ask my team for everything they have and it’s the standard if they want to be a part of something greater than themselves.”