ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It’s tough enough trying to beat a perennial contender without a slew of self-inflicted wounds.
The Valley Vikings found that out in painful fashion Friday night, self-destructing early and ending up taking a 42-14 beating at the hands of La Cueva at Milne Stadium.
To a large extent, Valley’s opening possession told the tale. Running back Esteban Loera stumbled on a first-down carry and was tackled for no gain. Quarterback Bo Coleman then twice passed to Aaron Molina — who dropped both throws.
The Vikings punted, the Bears drove for a quick touchdown, and Valley spent the rest of the night playing an unsuccessful game of catch-up.
“When you’re a throwing team, that first series sets the tone,” VHS coach Vince Collins said. “If we catch those first few balls, there’s no telling how it might change things. Instead, we came out a little wide-eyed and La Cueva made us pay.”
The Bears exploited a significant size and experience advantage when they had the ball. La Cueva’s first scoring drive racked up 50 yards, all earned on the ground.
Coach Ed Lucero’s team proved capable of the quick-strike as well. Quarterback Michael Walsh hit Erich Stabile with 60- and 34-yard TD passes to make the score 21-0 with 11:51 left in the second quarter.
To their credit, the Vikes did not surrender. Instead they pieced together a 19-play, 80-yard scoring drive, capped by a 4-yard Coleman-to-Loera touchdown pass.
“I think we called every play we had,” Collins said.
Valley forced a fumble on La Cueva’s next play from scrimmage and moved inside the Bears’ 20 on a 22-yard pass from Coleman to Molina.
“I thought Valley really showed something right there,” Lucero said. “They had a chance to get right back in it.”
But the drive fizzled on three straight incompletions, and La Cueva applied the dagger in the half’s final minute. On a second-and-28 play from his team’s 15-yard line, Walsh found receiver Michael Rose open behind the Vikings’ defense. The two connected on an 85-yard touchdown pass that made the score 28-7 and effectively killed Valley’s comeback hopes.
Coleman led the offense with 189 passing yards and 71 on the ground.
“We had our moments,” Coleman said, “but we’ve got clean up the mistakes. We’ve got some more big teams coming up on our schedule. We need to be a lot sharper if we’re going to compete with them.”
— Ken Sickenger
SANDIA 14, WEST MESA 7: At Wilson Stadium, Mustangs coach Felix Jamero viewed the defeat as something to build on.
“It’s like life, it’s just like life,” Jamero said. “You’re always going to have bumps in the road. Get over the bumps, do not go around it, go through it, get to the next objective.”
The Mustangs didn’t generate much offense; starting quarterback Dominic Davis missed the game for undisclosed reasons, but Jamero said he will be back next week.
Sandia was limited to 143 yards of total offense by West Mesa.
“Our defense did fine, which I always thought they could,” Jamero said. “We’re fast. People don’t think we have anything up front. We’ve got something up front. Our DBs are great, I love our DBs. Our linebackers played well. Nothing bad happened tonight.”
— Chris Jackson