Home Sports Local Sports Fantastic Football Saturday playoffs preview

Fantastic Football Saturday playoffs preview

In this file photo, Goddard’s Robert Aragon blasts through two Tigers with the ball in the game against Los Lunas Sept. 29 at the Wool Bowl. Goddard plays Los Lunas in a Class 5A semifinal game today at 1 p.m. in Los Lunas. (Steve Notz Photo)

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It has been a while since the Goddard Rockets have been in the semifinal game — something they’re used to playing in. So, they got their wish this year to practice on Thanksgiving Day. All season long, Goddard has made timely plays when they needed them, whether on offense, but most importantly defense.

In their game against Los Lunas at the Wool Bowl, Goddard’s defense needed to make a stand against the Tigers in overtime as Los Lunas went for a two-point conversion. The defense held as Tiger quarterback Cade Benavides threw the ball behind an open receiver in the back of the end zone as Goddard went on to win 28-27 in overtime.

Goddard coach Chris White hopes that his team does not fall behind 14-0 and have to go for it on fourth down repeatedly just to stay in the game, like the last time these two teams played. Goddard trailed 14-0 at the end of the first quarter. The win helped give Goddard momentum and propelled them to a four-game winning streak until they lost in the last game of the season to Roswell.

With the four teams left in the playoffs, Los Lunas is the most balanced between run and pass of all the existing teams left, (Roswell, Goddard, Artesia and Los Lunas). Tigers’ second-year coach Jeremy Maupin knows what it’s like to play in playoff football as a player and coach. Maupin was a quarterback on the title team for Artesia, and after earning his degree, was on the coaching staff of Cooper Henderson when they won titles as well.

Maureen lost one of the best quarterbacks in the state in Nick Gaerlan early in the season — though he did see time in the Goddard game. Backup quarterback Kade Benavidez fills in capably for a few games before being injured. He returned to the Belen game and is running the offense.

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Los Lunas’ runningbacks Noah Gum and Diego Sanchez are having big seasons. When they do throw the ball, Benavides looks for Cody Vocu and Andrue Garcia.

Their defensive backs have been the strength of the team with Joseph Klaus and Isaac Felts intercepting passes. Senior free safety Michael Montoya is the anchor back there as he leads the team with interceptions. On defense, they have two of the better linebackers in the state in Alan Munoz and run stuffer Diego Sanchez.

Goddard is playing their best football, having dispatched of Deming, 34-0. The defense has been the calling card for the Rockets this season. On offense look for Player of the Year candidate Dalton Bowles to lead the charge carrying the ball.

“We’re pretty evenly matched,” Goddard football coach Chris White said. “It is going to be a close game. It is going to come down to who can execute the best. It will probably be a physical game — I expect them, I think they are overlooked and they have a stout defense and they have a good running game to go with their passing game. Their defense gets overlooked, so we are expecting a real close game.”

West Las Vegas at Dexter

In this file photo, Nick Cobos muscles his way into the end zone for the first score of the night against Tucumcari on Oct. 27. Dexter faces West Las Vegas today in a Class 3A semifinal at 1 p.m. in Dexter. (Shawn Naranjo Photo)

Dexter has enjoyed an exciting, quiet season under the direction of first-year coach Arturo Duran. Duran line plays from both sides of the ball. Expect this game to be won in the trenches. If Dexter can control the ball, they should be marching on to play a championship game.

The Dons throw the ball 90 percent of the time and on defense, they will run a 34.

“They’re a good passing team,” Duran said. “We want to run our offense and control the clock as usual. The key to us has been (kids) believing in themselves and that they’re as good as anyone else. I have confidence in my players. We haven’t played, punted the ball in the last three games.”

Gateway at Tatum

In this file photo, Gateway’s Gage Estes runs with the ball behind blockers against Mesilla Valley on Oct. 6. Gateway plays Tatum for the 8-man state championship at 1 p.m. today in Tatum. (David Rocha Photo)

This seems to be the year of the Warriors. Today, they will be playing for their first Blue Trophy since 2014.

Tatum is a balanced offense and they will run a spread offense. They will run several sets.

“This is what we’ve worked for all year,” Wigley said. “Now it’s time to finish the job. We have seven seniors on this team and they have done a great job of leading and have really been a joy to coach. We had our last practice on Thursday and it was emotional for these guys. It was tough knowing they will be moving on in life, but I’m proud to have been a small part of their process.”