On Friday, Roswell, Goddard and Chaves County had reason to smile. Not only was there a terrific football game played that will be talked about over and over again for years to come, but the fans from both sides should feel proud of not only their teams but of their behavior.
The game was first-class in the effort given on the field. Roswell had to hold on and make a play on both sides of the ball to win the game. Goddard was not beaten by themselves, it is that Roswell made one more play than Goddard did.
If I’m Goddard coach Chris White, I’m not only proud of my team, I’m hugging each and every kid that played for me in that game and that’s on my team, and telling them thank you. Thank you for what you gave me from the game but most importantly for the year. We lost playing Rocket football, and that’s all anyone can ask. Sometimes you have to tip your hat and give credit where credit is due. Friday night, Roswell was the better team. I’m telling my kids that even the doctor that finishes last in medical school, they still call that person doctor.
I’m telling my kids that we will see them again, and that means we are playing deep into the playoffs and that every time we have the chance to go for the win, we’re going for it because that’s Goddard football. If I’m coach White, I’m thanking my staff for the effort they have given this season. Because of the effort Goddard gave this season, I’m sure coach White will take 8-1-1 every year.
When the season began, most people didn’t expect Goddard to come into the game ranked the No. 1 team in the state, not after coming off 4-7 overall and 0-3 in district play the prior year.
In this game, Roswell played with the heart of a champion and took the blows from the power running of Dalton Bowles and Robert Aragon, and hung in there until they made it happen. Roswell beat Goddard with a defensive stand and a forced fumble. Roswell had a bend-but-don’t-break mentality and no matter what happened in the course of the game, they kept playing. When featured running back Justin Carrasco was hit so hard that he was knocked out on his feet, Coyote coach Jeff Lynn called for quarterback Ethan Valenzuela to throw a pass and catch Goddard off guard. Valenzuela threw a 13-yard dart to the streaking Dominic Nava running a slant pattern to give Roswell a 21-14 lead late in the third quarter.
Roswell coach Jeff Lynn surprised his team with new uniforms after they had warmed up and gave them a psychological lift that told them they were worth it and going to win the game. This may have had as much to do with them winning the game as anything. Little things win championships.
Lynn has resuscitated the Roswell football players and has them believing they can win the Blue Trophy, something that was last done almost two decades ago under head coach Jack Cisco. Lynn has established this as a rivalry after Goddard had beaten Roswell 16 consecutive times and Lynn suffered defeat at the hands of Goddard his first two seasons of this game.
This was the first year that Lynn has won a district championship, and he needed every point to win it. In the game Friday night, Roswell had to win by more than two points to become district champions. They did it with a Joel Sanchez field goal with 1:50 left to play in the game, and when they recovered a fumble, it sealed the deal for Lynn.
What was so nice about the game Friday night was the aftermath, the joy of winning by Roswell. Lynn getting to experience this win with his Hall of Fame dad David Lynn and his sons that were there to hug him after the game — nothing but the pure elation of accomplishing the goal. Maybe losing to Artesia spurred the Coyotes on to victory. No one can say, but it put Roswell into a must-win situation, which gave a life lesson to the young men playing for Lynn, in that it is never over if you don’t quit. Block out the noise and just go about your business, prepare and play football.
On the other side, you have the reaction of Goddard stunned by the loss. The emptiness of giving everything they had, and to have the game end the way it did was shocking. The way Goddard players and coaches reacted to the loss with nothing less than class and shaking hands with Roswell and congratulating them was awesome.
Watching coach White see his family as he does after every game and his players go into the stands to hug their families and thank them for their support was worth the price of admission. Those are life lessons that aren’t taught in the classroom, to prepare for victory and to give all that you have as an athlete, with so much at stake, and to come up short — that’s why sports is the greatest drama ever.
What a great big-game atmosphere prior to the game. I like to get to the games early, walk the parking lot and talk to the fans and get a feel for what they think about the teams they’re playing and their team.
Both teams’ fans told me they were going to win and why. There was nothing but love as the fans grilled up their food, hung out with each other and reminisced about their playing days and what the game means to them. Everyone was excited that their teams were ranked No. 1 and No. 2 and happy to be going to the playoffs no matter who won the game. All of the fans expect for the teams to play each other again this season.
Finally, the pageantry associated with the game was wonderful. There were the cheerleaders and bands from all the middle schools to go along with the high schools. Those are traditions that are established to go along with this game. The stands were packed to the limit and from the press box looking down, all I could see was red and black. When I looked across the field in the stands, all I could see was blue, and I could see two fire trucks with both teams’ banners, things that are unspoken and taken for granted — until no one is doing it.
The game was hard hitting and clean — there was one minor skirmish, but it was quickly broken up by both teams. I would like to compare this rivalry to having a boss that is demanding to work for — you’re not having dinner with them, but when they come around, they make you do your best work. You win awards with them and accomplish a lot, but there is unspoken pressure and you can’t wait to get away from them and go work somewhere else. Once you get your wish, normally you’re not achieving as much or as happy without the pressure. When you look back, you realize how much that irritating boss did for you and your career.
That’s what this rivalry is. It makes each team do their best, and it’s OK if they measure themselves against each other, because there must be a measure of respect to do that. This game, the way it was played and handled, galvanized the city and has fans talking about the rematch.
Roswell Independent School District, city of Roswell, Roswell High School, Goddard High School, players from both teams and parents, you did your teams and city proud! Take a bow, well done and well played.