Home Sports Local Sports 112319 Fantastic football Saturday playoff semifinal preview

112319 Fantastic football Saturday playoff semifinal preview

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Goddard’s Robert Aragon (2) runs for the first score of the game last week against Piedra Vista at the Wool Bowl. (Shawn Naranjo File Photo)

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For Goddard, this game against Los Lunas is the most important game of their season, because it is their season. Goddard is looking to make their first return back to the state championship game since 2013. If Goddard loses, they go home for the second year in a row, bowing out to the same team.

Goddard’s Sammy Zaragoza (9) runs the ball against Piedra Vista last week at the Wool Bowl. (Scott Stevenson File Photo)

Goddard has enough history with the Tigers. Earlier in the year, Goddard played well at Los Lunas, but with turnovers and penalties, it was too much for them to overcome as they lost, 21-7, on Sept. 27.

“I think the last game our defense did well to match their physical nature,” Tigers’ coach Jeremy Maupin said, “but our offense was out of sync due to their play. It took us a half to get going. Our players are excited about the challenge this week.”

Last season in the semifinal playoffs, Goddard wound end up losing to Los Lunas 41-20 after a turnover-plagued game. Earlier in the season last year, on Sept. 28, 2018, Goddard won a thriller against the Tigers at the Wool Bowl.

Goddard trailed in that game by 14 points. Goddard coach Chris White went for it on multiple occasions and they converted as they closed the lead and forced the game into overtime. In overtime Goddard’s Robert Aragon scored on a 6-yard run up the middle and Jacob Wieser made the PAT to make the score 28-21.

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Los Lunas’ quarterback Kade Benavidez threw a 10-yard TD pass to Hunter Williamson to make the score 28-27. Instead of going for the tie, Tigers coach Jeremy Maupin went for a two-point conversion and the Goddard defense held as Benavidez underthrew his receiver.

Goddard’s game against Piedra Vista last week was a win and they advanced. In the game, Goddard still had penalties and numerous turnovers — they were fortunate that their defense bailed them out and Piedra Vista would turn the ball right back over.

In this game, Goddard cannot get into a shootout with the Tigers and they cannot afford to turn the ball over or have points taken off the board because of penalties, as they have done this year.

The one thing no one is talking about is the lack of a field goal kicker for the Rockets.

Goddard’s playoff season could come down to a field goal kick, or an extra point attempt. Since the Artesia game on Oct. 25, they have tried a field goal one time and the attempt was no good. Coach White has favored two-point conversion attempts after touchdowns. With the lack of a field goal kicker, it limits Goddard’s scoring choices. Not having another field goal kicker could come back to haunt them.

This Goddard team is going to play hard, but this version of the Tigers is a team that has given Goddard problems in the past. As said before, Los Lunas is the Artesia of the north. Coach Jeremy Maupin is a former state-winning quarterback and coach for Artesia, so a lot of what he does has been inherited from Artesia.

In last year’s game, Goddard had trouble matching up with the spread offense. The Tigers would often throw deep and throw an underneath pass to 6-foot-4 receiver Isaiah Sanchez. Goddard has to force Benavidez to throw on the move, they cannot allow him to set his feet and go through his reads if they have any chance to win this game. Los Lunas also will run the ball just enough to stop Big Blue from pinning their ears back and just rushing Benavidez.

On offense, the Rockets have to control the ball and control the clock. Aragon has to do what he has done all year. He has to continue to make the right decisions and he will need to make enough passes to stop the Tigers from loading the box. Look for big games from running back Sammy “The Bull” Zaragoza and Rion “Mr.” Lee continuing to run hard.

“We know that Goddard has gotten better as the year has progressed,” Tigers’ coach Jeremy Maupin said. “At this time of the season, teams are playing their best football. We have to throw out what happened last time and get ready for a physical team and battle. They will be prepared as Coach White always has them playing good football.”