SANTA FE, N.M. — The year was 1985. Wham! ruled the airwaves, and a young Ray Holladay was on the Silver High Fighting Colts squad, playing for a state championship against the Ruidoso Warriors.
No, Silver didn’t win that game. But fast forward 27 years later, and that elusive New Mexico state football title is back in view for Holladay – this time as head coach for the Santa Fe Demons. But that 27-year span is less about Holladay than it is about the Demons.
That’s because, with Friday’s 51-6 District 2-4A win over Bernalillo (1-8, 1-2 district), Santa Fe (4-5, 3-0) has punched its ticket to the postseason, as well as sealed its first district title since the Ronald Reagan era.
Holladay, of course, is happy with the win, but “it ain’t over,” he said. “I want to win the district title outright.”
It’s true, technically, the Demons still have to beat the struggling Capital Jaguars, which fell 52-0 to Los Alamos on the same night, next Friday to avoid a tie-break scenario with the Hilltoppers. But since Santa Fe owns the tiebreaker, the Demons are the de facto champs.
With the team’s leading rusher, senior Anthony Abeyta, still sidelined with a knee injury that may keep him out for the remainder of the season, Jordan Booth-Homer led the way in the district-clinching win with 108 yards rushing on five carries and three touchdowns. And from here on out, the success of the Demons appears to rest squarely on the shoulders of the 5-foot-11 quarterback/running back.
Booth-Homer, however, doesn’t see it that way.
“I don’t feel very much pressure because it isn’t all on me – everyone is playing harder because (Abeyta) is hurt,” Booth-Homer said. “Everyone is running harder, practicing harder. We’re all clicking at the right time.”
Booth-Homer scored all three touchdowns in the first half, including an 84-yard kick return to lead the Demons to a 37-6 halftime lead.
Santa Fe reached the end zone in five of its six possessions before the break, beginning with a seven-play, 59-yard drive on the opening series of the contest. Rayes Montaño capped off the drive with a touchdown run from the 2-yard line at 8:14 in the first quarter.
The Demons’ defense then forced the first of four punts to set up the team’s next scoring drive, which began from Santa Fe’s own 24 yard line. The Demons needed just seven plays to cross the goal line due in large part to a 46-yard run by Christian Gonzales on his first carry of the game. Booth-Homer put the Demons up 15-0 with an 8-yard touchdown run and 2-point conversion with 31.8 seconds remaining in opening period.
While the Spartans responded with the longest drive of the half, marching 78 yards on 16 plays – including a 2-yard touchdown pass from Ralf Olguin to Clinton Reynolds (4:33) – the Demons countered with Booth-Homer’s second score on the long kick return 18 seconds later. The senior standout added an 80-yard touchdown run in Santa Fe’s next possession to put the team up 30-6, and capped off the scoring by marching 70 yards in the final minute and a half. Isaiah Taylor added to the rout, putting Santa Fe up by 31 points with a 2-yard touchdown run in the final 7.8 seconds of the second period. The score was set up by a 22-yard run by Gonzales, who finished with 92 yards.
The Demons then tacked on two touchdowns in the second half to engage the running clock to seal the win. Marcus Alarid scored on a 5-yard run at the 6:55 mark of the third period, followed by Taylor Cherwinski’s goal-line plunge at 5:22 of the final period.