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District play looms for almost all northern schools

With the high school football season’s halfway point in the rear-view mirror and with district play on tap for almost all schools across the North, it’s a good time to take stock of how the local teams fared in this early grading period.

CLASS 5A

CAPITAL (1-4-1): D

The Jaguars have lost four straight games by a combined 163-34 tally. The offense that was expected to be a powerful unit has gotten plenty from sophomore Lucas Padilla, who has put up 555 yards in four games, but the passing attack has faltered, with a total of 187 yards, three interceptions and no touchdown passes. Capital next plays at Portales (2-3) tonight.

LOS ALAMOS (4-2): B+

Los Alamos senior kicker Ethan Hunt attempts a field goal as Espanola Valley junior defensive back Arlen Garcia tries to make the block. The Hilltoppers are one of the north’s surprise teams so far, while the Sundevils are improving with a young squad. (Courtesy of Roman Martinez Jr.)

The Hilltoppers thus far have been one of the surprise teams in the area, although they have had a fairly easy schedule, with the best win coming against 4A Bloomfield. Los Alamos appears to be the favorite in a weak District 2-5A and have a blossoming defense led by ball hawk Jacob Dunwoody. The Hilltoppers hope they’ve shaken off a rough outing against Hope Christian when they meet Valencia (4-2) in a late game Thursday.

SANTA FE (2-4): B-

On the surface, the Demons’ record doesn’t look like much, until one remembers that they shook off a dismal 35-game losing streak. Although Santa Fe weren’t good against crosstown nemesis St. Michael’s, the season already has been a success. And in a weak district, anything can happen from here on out. A playoff berth may be too much to expect, but then again, maybe it isn’t. The Demons are home tonight against Aztec (3-3).

CLASS 4A

ESPAÑOLA VALLEY (2-3): C

On the one hand, the Sundevils did lose to Santa Fe on a last-second field goal; on the other, they bounced back from three straight losses to win two in a row. Coach Miguel Medina, in his second go-round with the team, is essentially starting from scratch, but already is farther along than during his first tenure. Española has talent – it’s just young. Expect the team to improve, but you may not really see it in the standings in this rugged district. The Sundevils next play tonight at home against Bernalillo (4-1).

POJOAQUE VALLEY (2-3): C

The wins were not particularly impressive. But considering the Elks didn’t have an official head coach until the week of the first game, they are hanging in there. Sophomore Devonn Holmes is helping provide a semblance of a running game, but the defense needs to improve as it averages allowing 43 points a game. A good time for that to happen would be Thursday’s late game against St. Pius.

TAOS (5-0): A+

The Tigers really have done nothing wrong and are rolling through opponents, winning by an average score of 52-12. The team has no holes, with a dynamic rushing attack led by Jonathan Garcia, who piled up 310 yards against Aztec, and an efficient quarterback in Justin Good. The District could very well be decided on this opening weekend, when Taos goes to Grants (5-0) tonight for the season’s biggest game.

CLASS 3A

ROBERTSON (5-1): B

These are not the Cardinals of yore, or even last season. They are not running roughshod over every opponent and they were even manhandled by a 2A school in Santa Rosa. But Robertson has won three in row and junior Anthony Padilla is one of the top dual threats in the class, with 275 rushing yards and 722 receiving yards on 20 catches (a ridiculous 36.1 yards per reception average). After tonight’s home game against Santa Fe Indian School (3-3), the Cards have a tough closing slate.

ST. MICHAEL’S (2-3): C

Hard to know which Horsemen squad is going to show up on any given night. When St. Mike’s is on, it is a strong squad. When it is not, let’s just say bad, uncharacteristic things happen. After starting out 0-3, the Horsemen have whipped up on bigger neighbors Capital and Santa Fe by a combined 83-6 margin to win a 10th straight mythical city championship. After Saturday’s home game with Shiprock (0-5), however, the going gets much tougher.

SF INDIAN SCHOOL (3-3): B-

The Braves have beaten up on smaller schools and haven’t fared so well against teams their own size. SFIS has shown an ability to move the ball behind senior back Anders Pecos, but life could get difficult in an improving district. If the Braves can control the clock through their ground game and keep games close, they stand a chance of remaining competitive. The first test of that strategy comes tonight at Robertson (5-1).

WEST LAS VEGAS (3-3): C+

West Las Vegas senior running back Darion Williams has helped the Dons go 3-3 in an up-and-down season so far. (Courtesy of Shannon Steven Aragon)

The Dons seemed to have recovered from three straight losses, including two whitewashes from Portales and Hope Christian, beating Hatch Valley and Clayton the past two weeks. WLV has a potentially terrifying offense behind quarterback John Balizan, and senior backs Antonio Bustamante and Darion Williams. The defense, however, has not consistently played up to its capabilities. It needs to begin to do that now with a road trip to Raton (4-2) tonight.

CLASS 2A

ESCALANTE (4-2): B

After two early-season, blowout losses, the Lobos have bounced back in a big way with three big wins. In a weak district, expect the latter trend to continue as Escalante prepares itself for its annual run at a possible state championship. There are some serious roadblocks looming in the playoffs, however, as the reconfigured class has some stout squads in undefeated Fort Sumner/House, Eunice and Newcomb. The Lobos are at home tonight to meet Mission Achievement & Success (2-3).

MCCURDY (0-6): F

This is not what the Bobcats expected in their return to the smaller classification. McCurdy has simply been unable to get its offense and defense in sync in the same game. The Bobcats have played marginally better of late, but inconsistency on both sides of the ball has been simply too much to overcome. McCurdy looks to begin a turnaround tonight at Newcomb (5-0).

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