Yodice: Valencia coach Shank has a frenetic weekend

Everyone who served as a head football coach in Portales on Friday night, and then coached another game in Farmington on Saturday afternoon, please raise your hands.

We see you, Wes Shank.

Valencia High School’s varsity coach on Friday night led the Jaguars to one of the best wins in Shank’s four seasons with the Jaguars, a 32-22 victory at Portales.

It wasn’t until about 3 a.m. Saturday that they returned to Valencia. At 9 a.m., and because of a shortage of coaches, Shank was on his way to Farmington to coach Valencia’s C-Team.

Valencia’s varsity hasn’t enjoyed a win of this magnitude since an overtime win over Bloomfield three years ago.

The Jaguars lost the final four games of that 2018 season, went 2-7 in 2019, and then lost all three of their games in the spring.

But a recent move in classification, from 5A down to 4A, and some improved participation numbers from the spring to the fall – this includes a recent influx of players a couple of weeks ago, Shank said – has Valencia (3-1, with a Week 5 road trip on the horizon at 3-1 Santa Teresa) in good spirits.

“It’s real big for us,” he said of Friday’s win.

Valencia was hovering around 20 players in the spring, but Shank said he’s got about 55 players in the program right now and expects to gain about 10 more who joined the program after Valencia beat Del Norte 36-6 two weeks ago. A few others, including a handful of projected starters, are, Shank hopes, soon to regain their academic eligibility.

“We’ve got kids coming out of the woodwork,” said Shank, who coached Miyamura for 10 seasons before leaving for Valencia in the winter of 2018.

ST. PIUS-TAOS: Senior running back Marco Ybarra had a monster day – 17 carries for 327 yards, five touchdowns – as the Sartans (2-2) beat visiting Taos 40-28 on Saturday afternoon at Nusenda Community Stadium.

Ybarra got loose for three long TD runs (76, 72 and 94 yards) on a broiling hot afternoon.

“He’s very rare,” St. Pius coach Dave Montoya said of Ybarra. “We haven’t had many kids like him at the school.”

Taos led 21-20 at halftime. Ybarra scored on TD runs of 1 and 72 yards in the third quarter for a 33-21 lead. Taos (0-4) shaved the deficit to 33-28 late in the third quarter.

The Tigers, still down five, were driving for the go-ahead TD in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, but the St. Pius defense got a stop on a fourth-and-goal run by the Tigers’ Elijah Romero.

“By far, the biggest stop we’ve had on defense all year,” Montoya said.

On the next play, Ybarra raced 94 yards along the far sideline for the clinching score. And he wasn’t aware he had eclipsed 300 rush yards.

“Today?” he said with a smile. “Oh wow. I didn’t know that.”

FIRSTS: In Week 4, no fewer than six metro-area schools earned their first wins of the fall 2021 season. That includes Atrisco Heritage, whose record is 3-1.

West Mesa, Highland, Del Norte, Belen and Menaul all won for the first time. So, technically, did Atrisco Heritage, whose other two victories were via forfeit. The Jaguars scored two late touchdowns Friday night and came from behind to beat Valley 27-14 at Milne Stadium.

Also of note, each of Valencia County’s three schools won on the road Friday, with Belen giving new coach Andrew McCraw his first victory, 23-7 at Miyamura, and Los Lunas winning 35-20 at the Wool Bowl against Roswell.

3A LANDSCAPE: Quarterback injuries at Hope Christian and (especially) St. Michael’s certainly could impact how the rest of the Class 3A season plays out.

The Horsemen’s starter, Lucas Coriz, arguably 3A’s best quarterback, suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 3 against Santa Fe.

The Huskies have lost two quarterbacks over the last couple of weeks – Zakai Harmon (knee) in a loss to Bloomfield on Aug. 28, and then James Jenkins (hand) in a Week 3 loss to Albuquerque Academy on Sept. 4. The Huskies fell 35-3 on Friday night at Socorro.

THIS AND THAT: Alamogordo suffered another brutal loss in Week 4. For the second straight week, the Tigers had a 7-point lead late in the game. For the second straight week, an opponent scored a touchdown and go-ahead 2-point conversion for a one-point victory. This week, it was Santa Teresa pulling out a 30-29 victory on a score with 2;40 remaining. … The game of the week was almost certainly the one in Deming, as visiting Artesia escaped with a 42-35 victory. The game featured six lead changes, five in the second half.

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