In the rematch between Roswell and Artesia, the game was tied at 42-42 with 35 seconds left in the Wool Bowl, and the Bulldogs’ Jagger Donaghe had just scored a touchdown. Most fans at the stadium thought that Roswell’s coach, Jeff Lynn, would do the safe thing and play for overtime.
Roswell took over with the ball on their own 35 yard line, Lynn fooled Artesia and called “Virginia” — Roswell lined up Jasia Reese up as a slot receiver and Dylan Tucker on the outside, toward the sideline on the left side of the field.
RHS quarterback Ethan Valenzuela saw the matchup and threw a 50-50 ball up for grabs to a streaking Tucker. Tucker waited until the last minute and out-jumped Artesia’s defensive back, catching it at the Artesia 35 yard line as the Coyotes took their last time out.
“I remember it like it was yesterday,” Dylan Tucker said. “We were so calm in the huddle during that drive. We handled it like we should have, I believe. We knew we had to do what we were capable of doing.”
With ball on the Bulldogs’ 35 yard line and nine seconds left in the game, Valenzuela saw that Tucker was lined up up on the right side of the field toward Artesia’s bench, and with that Lynn shouted from the sideline “empty.” Valenzuela took the snap and was rushed out of the pocket, rolling to the right side of the field, and threw the ball to an open Tucker, who caught the ball, made one guy miss and out-sprinted another defender into the end zone as time expired to put Roswell into their first championship game since 2000.
“I wasn’t expecting to get the ball at all,” Tucker said after the game. “I just went up and made a play. When I caught the last pass, I wasn’t expecting to get the ball. When I caught it, I saw there was no time left on the clock and I felt like I had to score. I never make a move, but I felt like I had to. This game means everything to me, especially to make those last two catches. To catch a pass from Ethan (Valenzuela), that was the best feeling ever.”
On Wednesday at the Roswell Field house, Tucker — with his former teammates Cade Manzanares and Justin Carrasco, and family — signed a letter of intent to continue his education and play wide receiver for Eastern New Mexico University.
Tucker impressed ENMU coach Kelley Lee because of his athletic ability. Tucker not only won a state championship as a senior, but he was an All-District wide receiver, an all-state 110-meter hurdler and javelin thrower in 2018, and a state basketball champion in 2017.
“Dylan is a player we are really excited about,” Hounds coach Lee said. “Dylan has great hands and was a playmaker for Roswell. Coach Lynn couldn’t say enough good things about him. He’s also a really good hurdler in track so we know he has the speed to be a threat in our passing game.”
Wednesday almost never happened — you see his mother, Brenda Pierce, was told that she would never be able to conceive or have children.
Pierce found out she was pregnant with Dylan (Tucker) and kept it a secret from her family and Tucker’s father, Rob, until Christmas Day — and then gave the family pictures of the sonogram.
“I knew Dylan was going to be special,” his mother said. “I found out 10 months later I was pregnant with him. When he was born that made him my miracle baby. He’s my only child and my baby. It was the easiest pregnancy and birth ever.”
Tucker gets his athletic ability from both parents. Pierce was a tennis player in high school and attended West Texas A&M, and his dad was a center at Goddard and played basketball. Rob just missed out on Goddard’s state championship football team in 1988. He played center and defensive end, but regrets quitting football his senior year to play basketball.
“I couldn’t be more proud of him,” Rob said. “He’s amazed me every step of the way with school and everything. I count my blessings every day. I wasn’t as good of an athlete as him. I missed out on a state championship myself in ‘88. I’ve always told him that if you start something you’re going to finish it. Next year if you decide you don’t want to do it, OK. I told him what I did and how I regretted it.
“Dylan (Tucker) winning the title made me more proud of him.”
Tucker decided to go to ENMU because he saw himself being the most successful there academically and on the field. Dylan wanted to stay close to family, and he will get to play receiver there. Dylan praises both his parents for being there for him and encouraging him through everything he’s gone through in life.
“I honestly didn’t think I would play college football after this season,” Tucker said. “I didn’t think that I had a good senior year. I didn’t think I played my best, but I feel lucky and blessed. What stood out to me was that I was able to get into the weight room and I studied film and learned the game more.”
Tucker was a team player and moved to linebacker during the season as injuries forced him to play there. He credits his talk with Coyotes coach Lynn for telling him he needed to be in the weight room and get stronger at the end of their season-ending meeting last year. He also feels like track helps him with his quickness for football.
Tucker is in National Honor Society and ranks No. 19 in his graduating class. He feels like it was important to both his parents that he does well academically. His parents told him how important it was that he get good grades to be successful in life. Tucker wants to follow his dad and become a police officer after he is done playing football.
“My second best moment after the catches,” Dylan Tucker said, “is beating Belen. After the way we lost out to them last year, it feels really good to beat them this year.”
Tucker feels sad to be leaving so many good friends and memories behind, and yet excited about his future and the new life that awaits.