Home Sports Local Sports Rockets take on Tigers in semifinal round

Rockets take on Tigers in semifinal round

In this file photo, Goddard and Los Lunas players scramble for a loose ball during their game in Los Lunas on Sept. 24. Los Lunas won that contest, 17-14. (Steve Notz Photo)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Among all the Chaves County high school athletes who poured their hearts into their respective sports this fall; all the coaching staffs that taught, motivated and strategized their way through the season; all the communities that supported their teams through the ups and downs, good games and bad … amid all that goes into the learning experience we call prep sports, only one team is still playing. The Goddard Rockets have work yet to be done.

Their path has not been an easy or smooth one. Early on they lost a game from their schedule due to a COVID-related shutdown of the high school that canceled extracurricular activities. Like a lot of teams, they had to fight through injuries to key contributors, which required teammates to step up and shoulder more responsibility than planned. They played a solid month of road games from the end of September through the end of October, then when they finally returned to the Wool Bowl to close their season, that final game was — as always — the most watched and pressurized contest of the regular season, versus their rivals the Roswell Coyotes.

Through it all, and despite a loss in that contest, the Rockets made it to the postseason and easily won their first game against the Valley Vikings on Nov. 15, by a score of 56-14. Then who was waiting for them in the quarterfinal round of the postseason but the Coyotes, once again — a team Goddard hadn’t beaten since 2014. Mission accomplished. With a 14-3 win against Roswell on Nov. 12, the Rockets moved past a very good opponent, and also past some recent on-field frustration they and their fans were no doubt happy to put in the rearview mirror.

Now it’s just football, right? Which means more of the same set of challenges, more of the same struggle against the clock, late-game exhaustion, the elements, nagging bumps and bruises, the roar of an opposing crowd on the road … and against an opponent which, in this semifinal round of the playoffs, is also one of the four best teams remaining in New Mexico 5A football. That would be the Los Lunas Tigers, and one can scarcely imagine a more challenging opponent, even at this stage of the year.

How did Los Lunas get here? By beating everybody on their schedule, and in most cases, in pretty convincing fashion. But their Sept. 24 home win over the Rockets, 17-14, was anybody’s ballgame for most of the contest. And in looking back over the Tigers’ schedule, that three-point differential against Goddard made for easily the closest game they played all season, as they tallied a total of 442 points-for, compared to 79 points-against.

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In last week’s quarterfinal round, the Tigers played a district opponent of their own, the Belen Eagles, winning 31-0.

The Rockets will have their work cut out for them, but as noted above, they have all year. The challenge continues Saturday, as the Rockets (7-4, 1-2) travel to Los Lunas for their semifinal matchup against the Tigers (11-0, 4-0). Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.

Editor’s note 1: A post on the Roswell Schools Facebook page — https://www.facebook.com/roswellnmschools/ — provides a link for Goddard-Los Lunas game tickets, and also includes the following reminders: “Online sales only! No cash will be accepted at the gate! This is a directive of the NMAA!” (New Mexico Activities Association).

The winner of the Goddard-Los Lunas contest will face either Farmington (11-0, 4-0) or Artesia (8-3, 2-1) in the championship game. The Scorpions and Bulldogs also play Saturday at 1 p.m., in Artesia, in the tournament’s other semifinal contest.

Editor’s note 2: Despite the Rockets being on the road, there is football — some very good football — being played at the Wool Bowl this weekend, by two nationally ranked junior college teams, one of them the streaking New Mexico Military Institute Broncos. This one is for all the marbles: NMMI will take on Tyler Junior College for the Southwest Junior College Football Conference tournament title Saturday at 2 p.m. A preview of that game, published in Thursday’s Daily Record, can be found online here: https://www.rdrnews.com/2021/11/17/broncos-set-to-face-off-with-tyler-for-title/.

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