Eldorado’s 28-12 homecoming victory was one thing. But it was the fascinating new wrinkle the Eagles unveiled along the way that truly distinguished their District 2-6A football opener Saturday against Santa Fe at Wilson Stadium.
Sophomore backup quarterback Brandon Olivas came off the bench and led Eldorado to four touchdowns in his first five drives, all in the middle two quarters, as the Eagles (3-2) turned away the previously unbeaten Demons (4-1) on a warm afternoon.
The change in QBs was planned, Eldorado coach Charlie Dotson said afterward. But, he added, it was only supposed to be for one series.
“And then Elias (Franco, the starter) was gonna go back in,” Dotson said. “But we were successful, so we stuck with it.”
Olivas gave the Eagles a much-needed spark in a matchup with Santa Fe that was scoreless midway through the second quarter.
The offense quickly gained a pulse, as Olivas was 4-for-4 for 53 yards on his first drive. The drive ended with him throwing a 36-yard touchdown pass along the near sideline to Franco, who had been moved out wide.
“I was perfectly fine with it,” Franco said of the QB change. “You have to do what you have to do.”
He hadn’t played receiver for Eldorado to this point of the season, but he and Olivas appeared to have a natural chemistry. Those two hooked up for a second score late in the first half, this one covering 9 yards, as the Eagles led 14-0 at halftime despite some missteps on several other drives.
“Elias is a good athlete. He can play receiver for us, and that’s one thing we struggle with a little bit is the deep threat,” Dotson said. “It ended up being a good change.”
With defenses dominating early, Franco struggled, going 2-of-8 passing for 4 yards. Olivas was 9 -of- 12 for 117 yards and the two touchdowns in the final eight minutes of the first half.
“(Coach Dotson) told me just to do my thing and have faith in everyone around me,” Olivas said. He finished the day 18 of 24 for 214 yards. “The line did a great job, the receivers, the running back (Aidan St. John). It made my job easy.”
Said Franco: “He stepped up in a big way, in a way we needed him to. I couldn’t be more proud of him.”
Olivas ran for a 1-yard touchdown, and St. John added a 7-yard scoring run, both in the third quarter for a 28-0 lead.
The Demons added a pair of cosmetic scores in the fourth quarter, including a fun hook-and-ladder touchdown with 2:41 remaining. But Santa Fe — going up against the first 6A team on its schedule — was held to just 81 yards of total offense through the first three quarters.
“When you play the schedule that we’ve played, it prepares you,” Dotson said. “It doesn’t prepare them.”
Through three quarters, Eldorado had run 43 plays in Santa Fe territory. By comparison, the Demons had snapped it just 15 times in Eldorado territory.
Eldorado takes on Albuquerque High this coming week. Naturally, Dotson was asked whether the quarterback situation was going to be a permanent new wrinkle. The Eagles also have a showdown looming Sept. 30 against La Cueva.
“We’ll see,” Dotson said. “I don’t know. We’ll sit down with the two of them and see where we’re at.”
ELDORADO 28, SANTA FE 12
Santa Fe 0 0 0 12 — 12
Eldorado 0 14 14 0 — 28
Scoring: E, Elias Franco 36 pass from Brandon Olivas (Cortland Dickman kick); E, Franco 9 pass from Olivas (Dickman kick); E, Olivas 1 run (Dickman kick); E, Aidan St. John 7 run (Dickman kick); SF, Daniel Wright 19 pass from Luc Jaramillo (pass failed); SF, Martell Mora 33 pass, hook and ladder, from Jaramillo (run failed). Records: E 3-2, 1-0 in 2-6A; SF 4-1, 0-1.
First downs: SF 14; E 19. Rushes-yards: SF 34-102; E 41-144. Passing: SF 10-35-1—86; E 20-32-0—218. Total offense: SF 188; E 362. Punts-avg.: SF 5-35.2; E 3-35.0. Fumbles-lost: SF 2-1; E 4-3. Penalties-yards: SF 2-10; E 8-89.
ALBUQUERQUE ACADEMY 42, CLAYTON 6: At the Academy, Cole Conway rushed for over 100 yards and three touchdowns, leading the Chargers (4-1) over the Yellowjackets (3-1).
Quarterback A.J. Rivera passed for two scores and ran for another for the Chargers (4-1), who rebounded from their first loss of the season. Mark McIntosh and Kellan Gehres caught TD passes.
RIO RANCHO 61, ORGAN MOUNTAIN 7: At the Field of Dreams in Las Cruces, the Rams scored 21 points in the game’s first 63 seconds, led 42-0 before the first quarter was over and dominated the Knights.
CENTENNIAL 35, ATRISCO HERITAGE 12: At Nusenda Community Stadium, quarterback Ian Lopez had two first-half TD runs for the Hawks (4-1) in their win over the Jaguars (3-2). Centennial won its fourth straight game.
HOPE CHRISTIAN 69, GRANTS 29: At Milne Stadium, Huskies quarterback James Jenkins rushed for four touchdowns and threw for two others as Hope (2-3) routed the Pirates. Brent Miller added a kickoff return for a TD for the Huskies.