Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
All-righty then — this is going to be a Dragnet special. Just the facts. I must give a disclaimer that I did not talk to any coaches this week because I have been busy. This preview will be based on my observations of watching these teams play during the season and my conversations with coaches throughout the season to date.
Let’s get right to it. Goddard comes into the game as the No.1 team according to Max Preps. Make no mistake about it, this has been a bounce-back year for the Goddard Rockets no matter what happens in these next two games. They can go from having a good year to making it special. Everything is in front of them and their season essentially boils down to two games: Artesia and Roswell.
Artesia at Goddard
The Rockets hold their fate in their own hands because if they lose this game, in actuality the district is over with because Artesia will only have to play Alamogordo on the last weekend of the season — and we all know that will be a mercy-ruled game.
Artesia is probably still upset because they have not moved up in the rankings after defeating No.2-ranked Roswell last week at home, 36-35, they are still the No.3-ranked team in the district. They have to feel like if they win this game, they will be No.1 after defeating Roswell and Goddard.
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The marquee game of the week is going to be Artesia at Goddard. As many of you football fans know, they put in a rule called the Goddard rule — about slapping the ball before it is snapped — two years ago. I have that from several officials that I have interviewed for stories.
What makes this matchup more intriguing is that Goddard actually has a chance to win this game. Based on watching these two teams play, if Goddard can control the ball and impose its will on both sides of the line of scrimmage, they have a chance. Goddard must slow the game down and make it a street fight.
On defense, Goddard has to be physical on the line of scrimmage and get pressure on the quarterback Trent Taylor. Roswell got pressure on Taylor several times and forced errant throws or was able to sack him. They must also spy on him — he hurt Roswell when his receivers were covered and he would tuck the ball under his arms and run for huge yardage for a first down.
Artesia runs the spread offense — but they excel at the short passing game — they will dink and dunk the ball and throw some screens to their running backs Jagger Donaghe, along with a bubble screen to J.R. Bustamante. One of the most underrated receivers on their team has to be the 6-foot-4 Clay Houghtaling.
Houghtaling is able to provide a height mismatch but what is surprising is he is not afraid to go across the middle and run slant patterns, and he has the speed to go deep. Look for him to be dangerous on the goal line where he will run a slant over the middle, at or near the goal line.
When they do run the ball, look for the workhorse to be Donaghe — he carried the ball exclusively against Roswell — and the way Artesia runs him is not on sweeps but up the middle between the tackles. Artesia is not afraid to run him on third and long looking to keep defenses honest.
Artesia looks to be tailor-made for the type of game Goddard plays. If Goddard can keep the score close and run their offense at the end of the game, their punishing rushing attack will be effective. Also, if Goddard will run, run and run and surprise Artesia with the pass, it will be enough to keep them undefeated.
Goddard cannot fall asleep on Special Teams — Artesia scored a two-point conversion on a fake extra point using Houghtaling as the holder and they ran two receivers in the end zone — one was on a drag route, the other was in the right corner of the end zone — nothing was open and Houghtaling tucked the ball under his arm and ran it in for the game-winner against Roswell.
Artesia has given up the big play against Roswell on the kick off and punt returns last week. Goddard has enough shifty backs and team speed that they should scare Artesia and keep them in the game until they can get their offense going.
Roswell at Alamogordo
Roswell head coach Jeff Lynn will not make the trip to Alamogordo. Lynn is suspended for getting thrown out of the Artesia game with 31 seconds left. The good news is Roswell stays No.2 in the Max Preps rankings this week despite the loss to Artesia. The only problem is that Roswell will be hungry and angry and take it out on the Tigers. Alamogordo is at least two years away from being competitive in district games. There is no way they can match the speed and power of Roswell in this one.
Look for a mercy-rule game. The good news is this will be a tune-up before their rivalry game next week against Goddard. If they play all four quarters, it will be to get experience for the younger players on the team and to work on something for a future game.
No matter how the last two weeks shake out, the three top teams in district 4-5A will be Goddard, Roswell and Artesia — it will depend on what order they are seeded. Look for all three teams to open the playoffs with a bye and have a home game no matter what happens in the last two weeks. It is possible that if Goddard and Roswell are slated on different sides of the bracket and if they win out, they could play the state championship game in the Wool Bowl.
NMMI at Tularosa
According to New Mexico Preps, this is a must win for NMMI, who lost their first game of the season and went on a five-game winning streak and then dropped their last two. Tularosa is ranked No.9 so this is a game for seeding. NMMI coach Randy Montoya has to find a way to stop the slide and get back to winning with two games left to play.
Tucumcari at Dexter
To be honest, this is going to be a stat stuffer game for the No.2-ranked Demons. They will host Tucumcari and they need to make sure that any football players close to breaking school records get them this game and improve on their techniques and get out of the game without injury. There is no better way for them to end their seniors to end their home career than by blowing out Tucumcari early and relaxing. This game will be special in that Dexter is hosting its Pink Out and special ceremonies will be done at halftime.
Hagerman at Loving
If a Hagerman football fan would have suggested that in their last game of the season, with the hiring of Guy Rivers in late June, they would be ranked the No.11 in 2A and have a shot at the playoffs in their last game of the season — someone might have fitted you for a straight-jacket. That’s where Hagerman football is going into their last game of the season against Loving, who is ranked No.8 in the playoff picture.
No doubt Bobcats coach Rivers should and could be Coach of the Year for 2A. Rivers took a team with no wins last season and has had four different coaches in consecutive years. If Rivers sticks around, he has a chance to get his offseason lifting and cardio program going, the ‘Cats could go back to the heydays of state championship football.
Logan at Gateway Christian
Logan comes into the game, 4-5 against the No.2 team in the state, Gateway Christian. The Warriors are hitting on all cylinders and look to get ready for postseason play. Look for Gateway coach Shaun Wigley to put the peddle to the metal and give the fans a treat as they score at will in their last home game and last game of the season.