Prep football: 'Professor' Yodice issues midseason grades for metro teams - Albuquerque Journal

Prep football: ‘Professor’ Yodice issues midseason grades for metro teams

Bernalillo’s quarterback Uriel Castro looks to flick a pass over to a teammate against Taos before falling down after being tripped Friday vs. Taos. (Roberto E. Rosales/Journal)

We just completed the middle week in an 11-game prep football regular-season schedule, which puts us squarely at the start line of the more important second half of the season.

If we’re at the midway pole, that means it’s time for Professor Y. to dole out midterm grades to our metro-area programs.

My annual disclaimers apply: Grading is done on a scale. Nothing lower than a C-minus will be issued. And, as always, don’t compare; everyone is graded in a vacuum. (New programs Legacy Academy and Chesterton Academy are not included, as they are first-year varsity teams.)

ALBUQUERQUE ACADEMY (4-2): Chargers are stout defensively and haven’t surrendered more than 17 points to anybody, even the two teams — Bloomfield and Capital — that beat them. Offense lacks some potency without big running back Cole Conway, who is hurt; that is a story to track in the second half. Grade: B

ALBUQUERQUE HIGH (1-4): Record is a little deceiving; AHS has been competitive and the Bulldogs have some kids who can play. AHS could, and perhaps should, be in the mix to finish in second place in its district. Grade: B-minus

ATRISCO HERITAGE (5-1): The most pleasant surprise in the metro classroom, no debating that. Pass-heavy offense has been relentless and largely effective, defense still a bit of a liability. That is somewhat worrisome given the stellar offenses AHA will face in its district. But overall, a fantastic first half. Grade: B-plus

BELEN (1-5): Eagles have been dinged up a bit by a tough schedule, but more concerning is the lopsided nature of their losses. They are averaging less than 200 yards a game, a number Belen must boost in the second half. Grade: C

BERNALILLO (2-3): A physical team on defense, and that will keep the Spartans in most every game. But this offense has labored to produce points against the better teams on the schedule. That’s an issue. Grade: B-minus

CIBOLA (5-0): As always, Professor Y. has a soft spot for his alma mater, but after what I witnessed Saturday, I’m not 100% sure what the unpredictable Cougars have got. Not yet. QB Aden Chavez is averaging nearly 400 yards a game passing, and his stellar receiving corps puts Cibola in the hunt against anyone. Grade: A-minus

CLEVELAND (4-2): The Storm clearly remains a dynamite offensive bunch, and its two losses are by a combined 7 points. Cleveland has a serious chance to defend its state title, and this could still possibly the team to beat in November. Grade: B-plus

DEL NORTE (0-6): The Knights have played some solid teams, but Friday’s overtime setback to previously winless Rio Grande was a game Del Norte perhaps let slip away and it might be the Knights’ best chance at a win all season. Grade: C-minus

ELDORADO (1-5): Best thing to report is that the Eagles snapped a 43-year drought of winning at Leon Williams Stadium in Clovis. Eldorado has been competitive in spurts, but Eagles are in the midst of a rare poor season. Grade: C-plus

HIGHLAND (3-1): Hornets have won three straight, and this young team continues to get better, and Highland could reach six or seven wins by the end of the regular season. Grade: B

HOPE CHRISTIAN (2-3-1): All three losses are by shutout, but the Huskies remain a viable playoff candidate in Class 3A. Grade: C-plus

LA CUEVA (5-1): It’s rare that Professor Y. assigns his highest grade for a team that doesn’t have a perfect record, but this is going to be an exception. Cleveland Nation will hate me for this, especially since the Storm beat La Cueva, but the Bears are, at the midway point — and based on the eye test — my choice for metro valedictorian. Strong in all three phases. Grade: A

LOS LUNAS (2-4): Tigers are struggling, having lost four in a row, and they most certainly are feeling the growing pains of this move from 5A to 6A. But bank on Los Lunas being a much stronger team in the second half as the strength of schedule eases. Grade: B

MANZANO (0-5): It’s just difficult to comphrehend that the Monarchs are only five years removed from a state championship. Manzano has only scored 20 points so far. Tough to watch this. Grade: C-minus

MENAUL (2-4): Panthers are beating the teams they should, and that’s a good sign in their district, where they remain arguably the best candidate to win the regular season. Could come down to season finale against newcomer Legacy Academy. Grade: B-minus

MORIARTY (4-2): 4A Pintos have a reliable defense (despite 5A Miyamura hanging 54 on them Friday), and the Pintos earn points on that front. But, this run-oriented offense will need to increase its output to elevate its hopes for a playoff push. Grade: B

RIO GRANDE (1-4): Professor Y. has seen this school succeed at football before (multiple times), and I hope Rio Grande eventually does so again. It’ll be a long climb, but Friday’s comeback OT win over Del Norte was a terrific moment for the Ravens. Grade: C

RIO RANCHO (4-2): Rams showed grit going on the road Friday to come from behind to beat Farmington, despite being down their starting QB and top receiver. Defense remains a viable asset in what’s been an up and down first half. Grade: B

SANDIA (3-2): Malachi Thymes has been one of the state’s top five running backs in the first half. But the Matadors need a more consistent passing game to create balance, especially now with the stakes rising. The only team to beat Atrisco Heritage. Grade: B

ST. PIUS (1-4): Biggest issue is on offense; St. Pius only has 54 points in its four losses, and SPX needs to be shake loose of this lethargy in the second half, where St. Pius is going to run up against a plethora of challenging teams, like Academy, Moriarty, Valencia and Silver. Grade: C-plus

VALENCIA (1-4): Like St. Pius, only first-half win is against Del Norte. But Jaguars, strange as this sounds since they’ve lost three in a row, including tough setbacks to Portales and Santa Teresa (in OT), should still be a factor in its district in October. Grade: B-minus

VALLEY (3-2): Despite what happened Saturday against Piedra Vista, the Vikings have played some good football in the first half, and they most certainly are going to be favored to win their district. That could place them in the hunt for a top-8 playoff seed. Grade: B

VOLCANO VISTA (5-1): Hawks have no eye-popping victories, but do have some wins against some reputable teams, plus, perhaps most tellingly, a competitive, 10-point loss to La Cueva. Overall, a strong group with an excellent field general in QB Elliot Paskett-Bell. Grade: B-plus

WEST MESA (2-3): This was arguably the toughest grade for me to assign, especially since the Mustangs are THIS close to being a 4-1 group. Blew a 21-point lead to Cibola and were one completed pass away from beating Atrisco Heritage. Lots to like with these Mustangs and transfer QB Elijah Brody, who’s put a jolt into this West Mesa offense. Grade: B


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