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Yodice on football: Volcano Vista’s Pavia will be ready for 1-vs.-2 matchup

It appears that Diego Pavia will finally get to play back-to-back games as Volcano Vista’s starting quarterback.

Pavia on Saturday had his most extended duty since Week 1 against La Cueva. In the first half of a District 1-6A game with Atrisco Heritage, he threw four touchdown passes and ran for a fifth in a 41-point first half. He was pulled late in the second quarter of the Hawks’ eventual 48-6 victory.

Pavia’s left ankle has been an issue all season. He first injured it early in the fourth quarter against La Cueva, and reinjured it in his return game a month later against Sandia on Sept. 26.

But Pavia played nearly a full half Saturday and looked very effective, although he did little running. He’ll be good to go when the top-ranked Hawks (7-0, 2-0 in 1-6A) face No. 2 Cleveland (6-1, 2-0) on Friday night at Nusenda Community Stadium.

In Saturday’s first half, Pavia threw TD passes of 7 yards to Simon Gay, 39 yards to Johnny Herrera, 20 yards to Isaac Chavez and 41 yards to Dylan Longoria. And the Hawks had three other empty drives in the first half that stalled inside the Atrisco Heritage 20.

FROM THE SOUTH: District 3-6A leading Las Cruces was on a bye this weekend; the Bulldawgs still have tests against Carlsbad and Mayfield before the regular season ends.

Las Cruces (3-0) has a half-game lead on Centennial (3-1) in the league standings. But as the Bulldawgs thrashed Centennial last week, 35-18, the lead seems bigger.

The Bulldawgs are one of 6A’s most talented teams, but have been somewhat erratic. They lost home games on consecutive weeks to La Cueva and Rio Rancho, but their victory over Centennial was their best outing of the year.

“Rio Rancho was an aberration for us,” Bulldawgs coach Mark Lopez said of a game in which Las Cruces had five turnovers but still had a chance late to win in an eventual 26-21 loss. “(But) I really like where we’re at. I like our progression, our physicality, our leadership.”

With those losses to La Cueva and Rio Rancho, Las Cruces could win its district and still not get a first-round bye. That is very much in play, and Bulldawg Nation knows it.

“You’ll drive yourself crazy going through all the scenarios,” Lopez said with a laugh. “There are so many that will play out the last two weeks. For me, it’ll drive me bananas (if I think about it too much).”

A KIEHNE EYE: Although Los Lunas junior defensive end Tyler Kiehne (6-4, 250) still has just two official scholarship offers – New Mexico and Toledo – he believes that list will be expanding soon.

UCLA came into Los Lunas to work him out a few weeks ago, he said. Kiehne also took an unofficial visit to Oklahoma State late last month. He said he’s done similar unofficials with Texas Tech, UNM and San Diego State.

Arizona State, Stanford, Notre Dame, Cal and Colorado also have been in contact with him, he added.

A KID THAT NEEDS A BYE WEEK: Artesia senior quarterback Clay Houghtaling is coming off a remarkable two-game stretch.

In wins over Lovington and Ruidoso – where the Bulldogs scored a combined 132 points – the 6-foot-4, 210-pound Houghtaling put up numbers that you’d more likely see at an 8-Man or 6-Man level.

Houghtaling threw for 766 combined yards in the last two games, including 13 touchdown passes – seven against Lovington, six more against Ruidoso.

Let’s hope he’s been icing that arm heavily this week as Artesia was on its bye.

LINING THINGS UP: From my seat on Friday night, I had La Cueva junior Tyler Jenson with 129 rushing yards against Eldorado. The Bears’ leading rusher – for the entire season – had 129 yards through the first seven games.

La Cueva, which was averaging 86 rushing yards a game, put up 178 yards against Eldorado, thanks in large part to Jenson, whose comeback from cancer – and a broken leg – easily qualifies him as one of the most heartwarming prep stories in the state this calendar year.

And should the Bears sustain this newfound ground success, they’ll be super scary once wide receiver Connor O’Toole returns in a few weeks. O’Toole, out with a bone fracture in his right foot, said Friday he hopes to return for the season finale against Clovis on Nov. 1 at Wilson Stadium.

TCU is the latest school to offer O’Toole a scholarship, as the list grows to nearly two dozen. His teammate, defensive end Caleb Marra, who had a pick-six on Friday, has received an offer from Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado.

One last La Cueva note: Head coach Brandon Back had to miss a good bit of Friday’s game because of an undisclosed illness. But he finished on the sideline.

THIS AND THAT: Texas Tech commit, Portales defensive end Philip Blidi, earlier this week picked up an offer from Utah. … We are down to five undefeated teams in the state: Volcano Vista, Roswell, Bloomfield, 8-Man Menaul and 6-Man Elida. Santa Teresa fell from that list Friday. … West Mesa coach Anthony Ansotigue said Saturday that his sophomore wide receiver, Tim Drennan, was “up and moving around” this weekend after a vicious tackle – knocked unconscious after being thrown to the ground – by a Rio Rancho defender on Thursday night. Drennan was briefly hospitalized as a result of the incident.

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