Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Game time, it’s almost that time. The big one is one week away. The No. 1 team in the state in 5A Roswell plays Alamogordo at home at the Wool Bowl this week. This is a game where they can sleepwalk and still mercy-rule the Tigers.
Former Roswell state champion football player A.J. Cisco is the head coach of Alamogordo.
Cisco is in his third year of rebuilding, this is by far his best season with two wins and an opportunity to win their last two games. To do that, Alamogordo will have to beat Roswell and Artesia. Last week, Alamogordo lost to Goddard, 40-10 at home.
The Tigers want to run the ball out of the spread. They can score points, as they scored 21 points on Los Lunas and 22 points on Lovington. In this game, they want to control the ground game and the clock in order to have a chance against the high-powered offense of Roswell.
Roswell has too much speed, athleticism on both sides of the ball. Roswell will also get practice in stopping the run because they will see a big dose of the run next week from rival Goddard. The only chance Alamogordo has in this game is if the Coyotes get caught looking ahead and turn the ball over repeatedly.
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Look for Roswell to score in every way possible, on offense, defense and on special teams. Roswell has to be nearing the most points scored by a Coyote team in a season. Look for Roswell to continue to introduce new weapons with Alonzo Acosta and Jaden Valenzuela being targeted more when the Coyotes throw the ball down the field.
Senior quarterback Dominic Nava, a question mark when the season began, has erased all doubts and questions. Nava has the ability to pull the ball down and run on the speed option and he’s more dangerous when he will wait and pitch the ball at the last moment.
The offense has been a season of Joel’s: Sanchez and newcomer Renteria. No one saw Renteria coming. He has been running since the Ruidoso game and hasn’t stopped. Sanchez has been everything the Coyotes needed on both offense and defense. Sanchez is also a clutch field goal kicker.
When the Coyotes run the ball in short-yardage, look for two guys, Angel Caballero and Roderick Sedillo. Roswell’s safety blanket this year might be the most dynamic, shiftiest athletes in the state in Jasia Reese. Little is mentioned about Roswell’s offensive line, led by Joshua Castillo and Xavier Lomeli, just to name a few of the outstanding linemen. What is also lost is how versatile the Coyotes’ line is. They are able to run block, pass block and pull and trap. Their feet are quick enough that they are able to get out and block on slip screens to free a receiver.
Reese is the difference-maker for Roswell. He can beat teams on defense by coming up and tackling a ball carrier. He has also been able to be on an island by himself and matchup the other team’s best receiver, and then Reese can beat teams on special teams, either by returning punts or on kickoffs.
The defense has started to gel and stop the run. The defensive line with Gabriel Garcia, Zach Buckmister and Isaac Hurst, to name a few on the line, are starting to get off blocks and stop the run. Roswell is getting big plays and sacks from linebacker Freddie Anaya who had three sacks in the last game. Defensive back Talon Sanders had three interceptions against Artesia to turn the game around.
The Starburst has yet to yield any points in the last couple of games. On special teams, Roswell’s kickoff team was ready as Artesia came out to kick off the second-half and tried an onside kick, but failed.
Look for Roswell big in this game.
This is the marquee matchup of the week. Goddard travels to Artesia for a grudge match. Goddard coach Chris White has beaten Artesia two out of the last three games. One of the wins prompted the New Mexico Activities Association to put a rule in about hitting the ball before it is snapped.
Last year’s game at the Wool Bowl featured a lot of Dalton Bowles. Bowles ran wild, as he ran for 485 yards. In that game, Artesia had stopped Goddard on fourth and eight at the Bulldogs’ 31-yard line. Artesia was driving when quarterback Clay Houghtaling threw an interception as Goddard defensive back Jonah Chavez was running stride for stride with the Bulldogs’ receiver, Chavez stuck up one hand and intercepted the ball at the Goddard 15-yard line with 6:57 to go in the game.
That was the last time the Bulldogs’ offense had the ball with time left on the clock. Goddard drove the ball to the Artesia 1-yard line and let the clock run down when Rockets’ kicker Jacob Wieser kicked a 19-yard field goal with five seconds to play in the game.
Goddard’s defense has been nasty allowing only 50 points this season. Teams have found it hard to run on them, but Artesia is like Los Lunas, which makes it a different game from the other games Goddard has played this season. The story of the season: the O-D lines of Goddard — how they play will determine how the team plays.
Goddard will have to get pressure on Houghtaling and keep the pressure on him. The Rockets will have to limit Houghtaling’s running, he’s not afraid to pull the ball down and take off. He can run on designed runs up the middle, and he can roll out to the left or right and run.
Artesia looks to throw the ball quickly with a lot of bubble screens to their receivers. Houghtaling is not afraid to throw the ball deep and he is good at throwing the 10-15 yard intermediate pass down the field. Artesia normally runs the ball up the middle with a running back, but against Roswell they used Houghtaling to run the ball up the middle.
Where the Rockets could dominate the game is if they can keep Artesia’s offense off the field. This season the Bulldogs’ defense has had trouble stopping other teams, and with Goddard ‘s power running game, look for it to take its toll on the Bulldogs in the second half.
Last week against Roswell, Artesia just wore down. If Goddard can keep the ball with Robert Aragon, Sammy “The Bull” Zaragoza and Rion “Mr.” Lee, it could be a long night in a hostile environment.
Goddard has the hardest road to win district this season, if only because they have to play Artesia and Roswell in back-to-back weeks. Goddard comes into the game as the No. 2 team in 5A while Artesia is the No. 4 team.
While the weather is turning and it could be cold or rainy out as the season’s change, Goddard has the kind of game that travels. Goddard cannot afford to look ahead to next week when this game is going to require their full attention.
Goddard cannot afford to fall behind and have to play catch up. Goddard does not have a game that allows them to play hurry-up.
Dexter has a breather when they travel to Tucumcari to face the Rattlers. Tucumcari is having a down year with one win on the season. Dexter beat New Mexico Military, 28-18, last week by making two defensive stands.
Dexter will be able to put up points aplenty. Dexter head coach Arturo Duran’s main concern is to get out of this game healthy, for the showdown with Tularosa next week. Look for the Demons to pound the ball and control the clock and the game, this week.
Dexter’s road back to the championship is going to take a lot of work, as they have dropped to No. 5 in District 4-3A.
Gateway Christian is playing their last game of the season unless they make the playoffs. This hasn’t been the season coach Shaun Wigley wanted, but it has been one of his most rewarding. The Warriors play on the road at Logan.
In coach Guy Rivers’ second year, he might not be about getting revenge. But a 50-0 loss to Jal last year, and a district game, and Rivers probably doesn’t have any trouble getting his team ready to play. With a home game, look for Hagerman to improve their playoff position with Jal having a down season at 2-5.
Hagerman is sitting at No. 6 in 2A. Look for the Bobcats to come out ready to play and their defense to score off of turnovers.
Lake Arthur’s season is over. They did not make the playoffs.
Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575- 622-7710, ext. 304, or firstname.lastname@example.org.