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High School Football: Four Minds, One Way of Thinking

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Our so-called experts weigh in on this week's big prep games


Our panel of experts ...
Will Webber: Journal preps guru and northern
New Mexico apologist.

Ken Sickenger: Rec league basketball legend and
future card-carrying member of AARP.

James Yodice: the real reason Rio Rancho is
on the map.

Sam Aselstine: Journal sports patriarch and state's
leading NHL ambassador.
Thursday, Oct. 18

Gadsden (1-5, 0-0) at Las Cruces (7-0, 1-0):
unbeaten, top-ranked Bulldawgs are heavy favorites
in this District 3-5A contest at the Field of Dreams.
Cruces is led by 5A's leading rusher and scorer in
elusive running back James Hall. The 'Dawgs are
averaging nearly 39 points a game while Gadsden
is getting outscored by about 27 per contest. Ouch.

  • Will: Las Cruces
  • Sick: Las Cruces
  • Yode: Las Cruces
  • Sam: Las Cruces

Rio Grande (0-6, 0-1) vs. West Mesa (1-5, 0-0): As
Sickenger points out, this could be Rio's last chance
at victory. Thing is, the Ravens have come painfully
close in losses to Onate, Valley and Los Lunas, not
to mention a lightning-shortened loss to St. Pius.
The experts say Rio's drought is about to end!

  • Will: Rio Grande
  • Sick: Rio Grande
  • Yode: Rio Grande
  • Sam: Rio Grande

Friday, Oct. 19

Clovis (4-3, 0-0) at Artesia (5-1, 0-0):
This nationally
televised (ESPNU) game is a classic on paper, what with
the two programs combining for more than 40 state
championships. Too bad for Clovis the game's not
played on paper because stopping Artesia QB Landry
Jones (1,800 yards passing, 21 TDs) is more theory
than reality.

  • Will: Artesia
  • Sick: Artesia
  • Yode: Clovis
  • Sam: Artesia

St. Pius (2-4, 0-0) at Belen (4-3, 1-0): The visiting Sartans
may be the best .333 team in prep football history. Or,
at least, so say our experts. Pius has played a brutal
schedule but showed signs of running roughshod through
the District 5-4A slate with a lopsided shutout win over
former 4A bully Silver last week.

  • Will: St. Pius
  • Sick: St. Pius
  • Yode: St. Pius
  • Sam: St. Pius

Ruidoso (2-4, 0-0) at Bernalillo (3-3, 0-1): The visiting,
3A Warriors face an unpredictable Sartans squad that
has been blown out three times and delivered two one-
sided wins. Bernalillo's M.O. is this: success against the
weaker teams and struggle against the decent clubs.
Ruidoso's decent.

  • Will: Ruidoso
  • Sick: Ruidoso
  • Yode: Ruidoso
  • Sam: Ruidoso

Dexter (7-0, 0-0) at Capitan (3-4, 0-0): The mighty
Demons are one of only three unbeaten 11-man
teams left (Cruces, Los Alamos), and may be the
best small-school team in any class, including 3A.
They've only allowed 35 points while recording four
shutouts. Not good for the Smokey-the-Bear

  • Will: Dexter
  • Sick: Dexter
  • Yode: Dexter
  • Sam: Dexter

Alamogordo (5-2, 0-1) at Onate (2-5, 0-1):
loser of this 3-5A matchup also misses its shot at an
automatic playoff berth. Alamo would seem to
have the edge since the Tigers have proven to
be somewhat efficient against pass-happy clubs
like the Knights.

  • Will: Alamogordo
  • Sick: Alamogordo
  • Yode: Alamogordo
  • Sam: Alamogordo

Del Norte (1-6, 0-1) at Grants (1-5, 0-1):
had the rest of us drinking the DNHS Cool-Aid back
in August; we all thought the Knights were almost
as good as New England. Two months later and
we're officially off the Del Norte bandwagon --
except, that is, for this one.

  • Will: Del Norte
  • Sick: Del Norte
  • Yode: Del Norte
  • Sam: Del Norte

Cloudcroft (4-3, 0-0) at Lordsburg (5-1, 0-0): Class 2A
may be the most balanced class of any in the state,
thus making this one sort of a toss-up. Even so, it's
hard to go against the host Mavericks because two
of the Grizzlies' road trips have resulted in shutout

  • Will: Lordsburg
  • Sick: Lordsburg
  • Yode: Lordsburg
  • Sam: Lordsburg

Manzano (6-1, 1-0) at Los Lunas (4-3, 1-0): The
Tigers' big 5-5A overtime victory over Rio Grande
last week set up an interesting scenario for the
third-ranked Monarchs (that's right, they're No. 3
this week). Win and Manzano puts a stranglehold
on the district race; lose and we're suddenly scrambling
to find out more about Los Lunas.

  • Will: Manzano
  • Sick: Manzano
  • Yode: Manzano
  • Sam: Manzano

Valley (4-2, 0-1) vs. Albuquerque High (2-5, 1-0): The
Cardiac Kids finally met their match with a 40-point loss
to La Cueva last week while AHS beat so-so Santa Fe to
ascend to the top of the 2-5A standings. The key for
Valley is getting QB Josh Garcia enough time to
complete the short pass -- something that didn't
happen against the Bears.

  • Will: Valley
  • Sick: Valley
  • Yode: Valley
  • Sam: Valley

St. Michael's (5-1, 1-0) at Raton (5-1, 1-0): The
top-ranked Horsemen have 3A's stingiest defense
(5.8 points allowed per game). They've also had
success in recent trips to Tiger Stadium. If Raton's
defense can stuff the SM ground game and force
QB Mark Manning to win it through the air, the
Tigers have a chance.

  • Will: Raton
  • Sick: St. Michael's
  • Yode: St. Michael's
  • Sam: St. Michael's

Sandia (2-4, 0-0) at Santa Fe (3-4, 0-1): Folks in
the City Different were thinking playoffs before
last week's ooogly loss to AHS. If the youthful Matadors
can discover a little offensive cohesion, Santa
Feans will be pondering the start of basketball
season by game's end.

  • Will: Sandia
  • Sick: Sandia
  • Yode: Sandia
  • Sam: Sandia

Highland (2-4, 0-1) vs. Eldorado (4-2, 0-0):
Pres eason
analysis had this one right -- one team at 4-2 and
the other struggling. Of course, we all thought
the 4-2 team would be Highland. Instead, the Hornets
are perhaps the most underachieving team in 5A.

  • Will: Eldorado
  • Sick: Eldorado
  • Yode: Eldorado
  • Sam: Highland

Hobbs (5-2, 0-0) at Goddard (6-1, 0-0): With an
explosive offense and the state's best receiver
(Reese Franklin), the visiting Eagles are one of
the more exciting teams out there. As for
the Rockets, it's just win, baby. Sam Jernigan's club
has won five straight and held all but two opponents
below 10 points.

  • Will: Goddard
  • Sick: Goddard
  • Yode: Goddard
  • Sam: Goddard

Saturday, Oct. 20

San Jon (1-5-1, 0-1) at N.M. School for Deaf
(3-2, 0-0):
A rematch of last year's Six-Man
championship, this one lacks the drama because
the power has clearly shifted south to Lake Arthur
and Hondo. Oh, well.

  • Will: NMSD
  • Sick: NMSD
  • Yode: NMSD
  • Sam: NMSD

Albuquerque Academy (3-3, 0-1) at West Las
Vegas (3-3, 0-1):
The host Dons trailed 14-0
after just 25 seconds (25 seconds!) of last week's
game at St. Mike's. A similar start isn't likely, but the
end result -- a loss -- is because Academy is simply
the better team. Consider, the Chargers' losses
have been to Piedra Vista, Robertson and Los
Alamos while West's schedule has been considerably

  • Will: Academy
  • Sick: Academy
  • Yode: Academy
  • Sam: Academy

Mountainair (6-0, 0-0) at Menaul (3-4, 0-0): The
District 1, Eight-Man opener for both teams is overshadowed
by Mountainair's race against fellow unbeaten Animas
for the classification's bragging rights. If Menaul falls
behind early, look out.

  • Will: Mountainair
  • Sick: Mountainair
  • Yode: Mountainair
  • Sam: Mountainair


Will's upset pick: I see Sick has resorted to copying
all my picks, which forces me to play devil's advocate
and drop Rio as an upset choice and go against my
top-ranked alma mater in a 3A heavyweight showdown.
Oh, the agony. (Raton 21, St. Michael's 20-7/8)

Sick's upset pick: This could be Rio Grande's last, best
shot at getting the winless monkey off its back. Take
me with you, Ravens. (Rio Grande 27, West Mesa 20)

Yode's upset pick: For the record, William and Kenneth,
Rio Grande beating West Mesa is hardly an upset,
despite the Ravens being winless and the Mustangs
being 1-5. Will clearly sees me in the rear-view mirror,
but nevertheless I won't take the easy way out as he
did. How about some love for the Clovis Wildcats?
(Clovis 30, Artesia 28)

Sam's upset pick: Gonna give the Hornets one more
chance to pull a shocker. If they let me down again,
I wash my hands of them for any type of magic the
rest of the year. (Highland 25, Eldorado 22)


Last Week (Wk. 7)

  • Will: 12-5
  • Sick: 13-4
  • Yode: 13-4
  • Sam 12-5

Upset Picks
  • Will: 4-3
  • Sick: 0-7
  • Yode: 2-5
  • Sam: 2-5

  • Will: 81-29, 74%
  • Sick: 75-35, 68%
  • Yode: 80-30, 73%
  • Sam: 75-35, 68%