That nice autumn crisp is starting to fill the evening air and that can only mean that it’s time for a little high school football playoff action.
Local teams did not fare so well this season when it came to qualifying for the postseason, with just third-seed Taos (9-1) in Class 4A and fourth-seed St. Michael’s (6-4) in 3A earning first-round byes. The Tigers will meet the winner between Lovington and Bernalillo, while the Horsemen will face off against the Robertson-Raton winner.
Here is a look at the remaining three playoff games for local teams this weekend.
No. 5 Robertson (8-2) vs. No. 12 Raton (5-5)
Saturday 1 p.m.
This is a rematch of District 2-3A teams. The first meeting was something of a letdown as the Cardinals came away with a 42-19 win.
In that game, freshman Jesse Kelly took over the reins at quarterback for the Tigers and put a bit of spark into the passing game. But Robertson coach Leroy Gonzalez knows that to stop Raton, the Cards must stuff the run. In the first game, Robertson allowed just 86 rushing yards on 19 attempts.
“They’ve got a new quarterback, a young kid, and they ran the ball pretty well against St. Michael’s,” he said. “We know what they’re about, but they have some new wrinkles. They’re going to be a tough opponent.”
That may just be coach-speak from a program that has reached the championship game of its classification in three consecutive years. Robertson knows about playoff football, particularly how to pound the rock.
The Cardinals have put up nearly 2,000 rushing yards, with Santiago Gonzales and Antonio Padilla handling the bulk of those duties and 13 touchdowns.
No. 6 West Las Vegas (6-4) vs. No. 11 Cobre (3-7)
The Dons were on quite a roll until running headlong into bitter crosstown-rival Robertson in the regular season finale, with a 28-6 loss ending a five-game winning streak.
Six turnovers contributed mightily to that result, coach Adrian Gonzales said, and that’s the biggest thing West Las Vegas needs to curtail.
“A lot of the kids succumbed to pressure last week,” he said. “Six turnovers, and a lot of those were self-inflicted. We’re eager to get back out there to show that wasn’t us.”
While the Indians may have a losing record, that can be deceiving as they played a difficult schedule and will present a tough test, Gonzales said. But worrying about what opponents might do is not nearly as important as making sure the Dons do what they need to do.
“The biggest thing that concerns me is ourselves,” he said. “We constantly shoot ourselves in the foot.”
The Dons possess a powerful and balanced offense led by John Balizan at quarterback (2,007 passing yards, 23 TD passes), and backs Antonion Bustamante (779 yards, 10 TDs) and Darion Williams (541 yards, five TDs).
No. 5 Escalante (9-2) VS. No. 4 Estancia (6-3)
today 7 p.m.
Starting a week earlier, the Lobos already have a win under their belt, beating Capitan 56-6.
But things didn’t go quite so well for Escalante the last time they met the Eagles, losing 46-6 on Sept. 7.
“I really think they’re going to try to run us over,” Lobos coach Dusty Giles said. “They’re a pretty physical bunch. I don’t expect them to do a whole lot different than what happened in the first game.”
As a matter of fact, the result of that game caused Giles to effectively tinker with his offensive line and that has worked so well that Escalante has averaged 56 points in its four games since.
Still, the defense will have to step up big against Estancia.
“They have a good offensive line,” Giles said. “They’ve got some good backs. That’s their strength. We’re going to have our hands full trying to stop the run.”
Giles is optimistic about a much different result this time around
“I think we’ve improved,” he said. “I think we should make a much better showing this time around.”
(12) Cibola at (5) Mayfield, Field of Dreams, 7 p.m.
(11) Eldorado at (6) Hobbs, 7 p.m.
(9) Rio Rancho at (8) Manzano, Wilson Stadium, 7 p.m.
(10) Clovis at (7) Las Cruces, Field of Dreams, 1 p.m.
(12) Del Norte at (5) Piedra Vista, 7 p.m.
(11) Valencia at (6) Belen, 7 p.m.
(9) Santa Teresa at (8) Valley, Milne Stadium, 7 p.m.
(10) Farmington at (7) Deming, 1 p.m.
(12) Moriarty at (5) Bloomfield, 7 p.m.
(11) Bernalillo at (6) Lovington, 7 p.m.
(10) Silver at (7) Grants, 1 p.m.
(9) Aztec at (8) Ruidoso, noon
(12) Raton at (5) Robertson, 1 p.m.
(11) Cobre at (6) West Las Vegas, noon
(10) N.M. Military at (7) Hatch Valley, 1 p.m.
(9) Tularosa at (8) Zuni, 3:30 p.m.
(5) Escalante at (4) Estancia, 7 p.m.
(7) Jal at (2) Santa Rosa, 7 p.m.
(8) Texico at (1) Eunice, 1 p.m.
(6) Newcomb at (3) Fort Sumner/House, 1 p.m.
(8) Mesilla Valley at (1) Gateway Christian, 7 p.m.
(7) Menaul at (2) Tatum, 6 p.m.
(6) Logan at (3) Mountainair, 7 p.m.
(5) Melrose at (4) Magdalena, 5 p.m.
(1) Animas vs. (2) Elida, 1 p.m.