Followers of the Goddard Rockets have had ample time this season to grow accustomed to a winning brand of football.
Though coaches and players would never approach it this way, one might even say there’s an expectation on the part of the Rockets’ fans of a “W” each time the team suits up, at least against most opponents.
And among football-watchers in general, there’s been a little looking ahead — thinking of what might be if the Rockets, who came into Friday ranked first in District 5A in New Mexico, keep on winning between now and the final regular season game of the year, against the rival Roswell Coyotes.
That could set up the kind of local battle for district supremacy not often seen, here or anywhere — provided the Coyotes, who entered their game against Artesia ranked second, could also keep winning … but that was looking way, way ahead. And as we all know, in football, you take them one game at a time.
In this one game, on this Friday night, the Rockets held up their end of the bargain, defeating district opponent, the Alamogordo Tigers, 47-0. The big win improved Goddard’s season record to 7-0-1, and left them 1-0 in district play. Head Coach Chris White saw it as a good start to an important stretch of games for the Rockets.
“I felt like the kids played hard,” White said. “I thought we executed well at times. We don’t always necessarily come out and throw the ball and do things — but I think Bowles (quarterback Dalton Bowles) had three touchdown passes to three different guys.
“So I felt like the kids did some things, getting ready to make a stretch run going into district and going forward into the playoffs.”
Goddard came into Friday night with six wins, and no losses — the only thing keeping their season from perhaps being perfect: an Aug. 31 tie against Carlsbad, in a game that was stopped due to lightning with the score knotted at 0-0. In the weeks since, the Rockets have beaten Deming, Portales, Los Lunas, Lovington and Santa Teresa. With the exception of a 28-27 thriller at the Wool Bowl against Los Lunas, the scores haven’t been all that close.
Things haven’t gone as well for the Tigers, who came into the contest 1-6.
Friday night’s game wasn’t really in question at any point. Goddard kicked off to begin the game, but Alamogordo couldn’t get anything going on their initial drive and would be forced to punt the ball away with 8:28 left in the first.
Goddard wasted no time in finding the end zone. After receiving the Tigers’ punt, the Rockets took over on their own 24, facing a long field. But Robert Aragon shortened it in a hurry, breaking a 71-yard run to the Alamogordo 5. Two plays later, Bowles would run the ball in for the touchdown with 7:23 left in the first, making it 7-0 Goddard after the extra point.
The Tigers would again have to punt on their next possession, and after getting the ball back, Goddard quickly added another score on a Bowles TD pass, making it 14-0 with 1:58 left in the first.
The Rockets’ offense would immediately get another chance: Goddard recovered a squib kick after it bounced off a Tiger, taking over on the Alamogordo 37. A few plays later, Sammy Zaragoza would run the ball in for another Rockets TD. With 1:18 left in the first, the score stood at Goddard 21, Alamogordo 0.
In the second quarter, the Rockets would score twice more, on a Bowles pass to Nate Stone — after which the extra point attempt failed — and on another Bowles TD pass. Headed into halftime, it was Goddard 34, Alamogordo 0.
On the Rockets’ first possession of the second half, they would add another score. A long run by Zaragoza put Goddard in scoring position, and Bowles would run the ball into the end zone on a keeper, making it 40-0 Goddard after a missed extra point.
That point differential created a “running clock” situation — so in addition to points, yardage and big defensive plays, the Rockets now had time on their side as well, as the refs let seconds tick off the clock to hasten the end of a blowout contest.
Ten more points and the game would be called, but it didn’t come to that. The Rockets would add one more score later in the game as backup quarterback Marcos Hernandez ran in for a touchdown, making it 47-0. That score would hold until the end of the game.
“Defensively, anytime you get a shutout — we didn’t play perfect, but man the kids played hard, so I’m awfully proud of my boys,” White said.
Goddard next squares off against Artesia, on Oct. 26 at the Wool Bowl. The Tigers will host Roswell — who wound up falling to Artesia on Friday — on Oct. 26.