Home Sports Local Sports 031221 Fantastic football Friday preview

031221 Fantastic football Friday preview

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Roswell’s Talon Sanders (9) recovers a fumble during the 2019 Class 5A state championship game at Los Lunas. The Coyotes open their season at home against Carlsbad on Saturday at 1 p.m. (Daily Record File Photo)

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Normally, the football gods ease us into the seasons with a bunch of warmup games. Not this year, with teams playing only three and four games, our local teams will get right to it. And so will we. The big boys will open the season with tough games right away.

Normally when football fans hear the names Henderson, Bradley and Lynn, they think of championship coaches. That’s no different in this generation of the aforementioned names. These coaches have picked up the Blue Trophy and lifted it over their heads. For the first time, Carlsbad coach Gary Bradley will match wits with Roswell coach Jeff Lynn.

This is an interesting matchup, because Carlsbad looks an awful lot like Goddard, except they run the wishbone on offense. Carlsbad has already opened the season with a thrilling 35-34 win over Eddy County rival, Artesia, last Friday in a game played in Hobbs, so the fans could attend. Artesia scored at the end of the game with 18 seconds left and had a chance to win it, but the 2-point conversion failed.

Roswell will have to stop quarterback Jalen Macareno, who doesn’t throw it often, but often enough to beat you. He tossed two touchdowns after the Bulldogs’ defense came up to stop the run. He only threw for 96 yards and two touchdowns. Carlsbad has three ‘backs that are a load to bring down, and will not go down on the first contact.

Carlsbad runs the wishbone offense, the key for Roswell’s defense will be to get penetration into the Cavemen’s line of scrimmage. Carlsbad’s running backs, Amoria Barnes and Ty Molina, all received their fair share of carries. Jesse Rodriguez did work last week against the Bulldogs. He rushed for 192 yards on 20 carries and scored a touchdown. Rodriguez has good speed as he broke a long run of 65 yards to score.

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Carlsbad wants to lull the Coyotes to sleep. They want Roswell to commit to bringing their defense backs up to stop the run. Once they do that, the Cavemen will look to sneak Eli Asay or Kyle Ramirez deep. Carlsbad only threw three passes against Artesia. This looks to be one of the toughest opening games Coyotes’ coach Jeff Lynn has opened up with.

“They are pretty good,” Lynn said. “They have good size, they’re really big and the quarterback is athletic and they have some running backs that are athletic. They are pretty good on offense and defense.”

Lynn said his team is athletic, but not as big as Carlsbad, nor can they get run over. Roswell has only had four days of practice leading up to the game. The key to the game for Lynn will be being able to control the line of scrimmage and match the Cavemen’s physicality.

The play that Roswell has to stop is the double lead isolation. That is what the game will come down to. Roswell will have to get off the field.

“On offense,” Lynn said, “we cannot blow assignments or turn the ball over. We can’t do all of the things that you worry about in the first game. This is probably as good of a team we have played in the first game of the season. We are going to have to play well.”

Roswell senior quarterback Zeke Gonzales will get his first start under center, and look for him to play like a combination of former Coyote quarterbacks Dominic Nava and Ethan Valenzuela. Lynn likes Gonzales’ football IQ, and his ability to throw the deep ball. Lynn will not be afraid to run him as well.

“I’m excited to play,” Lynn said. “A lot of these kids have waited their time to play. They have played behind good players, it is their time, they have paid their dues and it’s their senior year.”

Goddard

By Tom A. Ruiz

Goddard’s Sammy Zaragoza (9) runs through the Artesia defense during their 2019 matchup. The Rockets open the season at Artesia on Saturday at 1 p.m. (Daily Record File Photo)

The Artesia Bulldogs have won 30 state football titles in its program history, enough to hang a championship banner on just about every street corner in town. When it comes to the Goddard Rockets, Artesia has not been as dominant over Goddard as one might think. The Rockets have beaten Artesia the last two times they’ve met, and are seeking to make it three in a row when they travel to Artesia for a 1 p.m. kickoff Saturday at the Bulldog Bowl.

If there is an edge in this game it belongs to the Bulldogs. They’ve already played a game against Eddy County rival Carlsbad, which became an instant classic with Carlsbad winning, 35-34, on Friday. The Rockets have barely practiced two weeks in this pandemic-shortened season and they make no excuses about it.

“Any team that is playing spring football has to play the cards it’s dealt, and we’re in the same boat,” said fifth-year Goddard coach Chris White. The mindset of the Rockets is to win every game on its schedule and that includes Artesia. Every year in our program, we talk about winning the whole thing.”

The Rockets have come up short the last two years, falling in the semi-final round to Los Lunas. The Rockets are loaded with seniors with the belief this was the year they would get over the hump and win it all.

“Of course it was a little bittersweet that we won’t get the opportunity to do that,” White added.

So, the run to end the season undefeated begins against Artesia, and some things remain the same: like running the football against the Bulldogs.

“Yeah you can bet on that,” said White. “My approach on offense is to run and run the ball.”

He said carrying the bulk of the rushing attack will be Sammy Zaragoza along with sophomore Jayvin Morales. Passing the football against Artesia will be an afterthought. Goddard is going to dare the Bulldogs to stop the run.

White explained the Rockets can’t afford to give up any big plays on defense against the Bulldogs.

“They are so explosive,” White said. “One moment you’re up by seven points, the next you’re down two touchdowns.”

According to White, the Bulldogs have team speed that the Rockets can’t replicate in practice.

“We are just going to have to execute our game plan,” White said, “and play our best if we wish to beat them.”

The Bulldogs have team speed on defense, but if they can’t contain the Rockets running attack, it could be a long afternoon for the Bulldogs. Last Friday night, Carlsbad shredded the Artesia defense for 371 rushing yards. Only the 374 passing yards by Artesia quarterback Cord Cox kept Artesia in the game.

Hagerman

Hagerman is feeling good about themselves after looking at the film. They look to get back on track and to play a physical game against Loving. Rivers said he was proud of his team because he had some freshmen play well.

“I preach the little things,” Rivers said, “because little things make big things happen. We just didn’t do the little things, but we cleaned them up this week in practice. I had freshmen step up and do a good job last week.”

Hagerman will play their last home game of the year before being on the road for two games to finish the season out. Rivers said he likes the effort from David Chacon and Jonah Bejarano, and the way the offense had a chance to come back in the game.

Rivers said his three seniors are the life of the team. He said they are coaches on the field and show the younger players how to do it through action and deeds.

For Hagerman to win, they will have to stop the running game and force Loving to throw the ball. Also, Loving is a young team and Hagerman wants to be physical with them from the start.

“At least our seniors and players get to play,” Rivers said. “This is the one sport that unless you go on to college and play, you never get to play again. And for all the seniors all across the state, I feel like it is an important thing to all of them. You don’t play football again. I’m really happy for all of the seniors across the state.”

Dexter

Dexter knows they will have their work cut out. They will travel to defending champion, Portales, who beat Dexter 40-14 at home last year. Dexter has a new spread offense they are running. This year’s Demons team is a quick strike offense.

“Portales has a good program down there,” Dexter coach Arturo Duran said. “We will have to bring our A-game to compete with them. We went to the spread offense because of our team speed and the players we have at the skill positions.”

Duran liked that his team flew to the ball on defense and never stopped giving 100% effort. Duran had high praise for his quarterback Marco Munoz. Duran said they have to stop Portales’ quarterback if they have any chance to win.

“I feel honored to coach these kids,” Duran said.

NMMI

New Mexico Military Institute coach Randy Montoya said he is uplifted by his team’s effort.

“They didn’t quit and if a couple of turnovers had not happened, it might have been a different game. I liked our running game,” Montoya said.

To win this week, Montoya said they have to cut out the turnovers and stop Texico’s offense. Texico is big on the offensive line and their skill players have the speed and quickness to take it the distance. Montoya said it will be tough to win because they have a lot of returning players.

Texico beat Tucumcari in their season opener. Montoya said their quarterback is one of the trouble spots that they have to stop. He runs well while orchestrating the spread offense. The quarterback will look for their tight end. On defense, Texico will run a 52 and flow very well.

After the first five minutes against Dexter, the Colts settled down and were ready for the game.

“We are going to be tested this week,” Montoya said. “We look forward to it.”

Gateway 

This will be the first meeting between the two teams in a while. Coach Wigley didn’t have a chance to get any film or to scout Mountainair. He expects Mountainair to be a senior-laden team.

“I’m really excited to be playing football another week, “Warriors’ coach Wigley said. “I don’t know what to expect from them as it has been years since we played them. I am excited for the kids to play again.”

Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or sports@rdrnews.com.

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