Prep FB: La Cueva rolls, playoff picture comes to focus - Albuquerque Journal

Prep FB: La Cueva rolls, playoff picture comes to focus

If the state of New Mexico had a research department that rivaled ESPN, it would be interesting to learn if any prep football player this season had checked all of the following boxes in a single game:

Returned a punt for a touchdown, recorded a 69-yard punt, created a fumble, intercepted a pass and sacked the quarterback.

La Cueva sophomore Mason Posa accomplished this on Friday night.

“That was his best game of the season, for sure,” La Cueva coach Brandon Back said after the Bears polished off Farmington 62-19 at Wilson Stadium to capture the District 2-6A championship. “He’s put a lot of weight on himself, because he’s got that competitiveness, and I feel like this is the first night he played a little bit freer, and he had a great result. He was everywhere.”

The Bears completed a 9-1 regular season, against what was probably Class 6A’s most demanding schedule. That one loss was a Week 2 setback against Cleveland; La Cueva closed the season on an 8-game winning streak.

The Bears (4-0 in league play) locked up a top-four playoff seed and first-round bye against the outmatched Scorpions (5-5, 3-1), who are hoping to get a first-round home game next week.

The playoff brackets in Classes 2A-6A will be announced by the New Mexico Activities Association at about 9:30 on Saturday night.

Posa, plus the incredible duo of quarterback Aidan Armenta and receiver Ian Sanchez — who combined on three, first-half scores amidst a 48-point explosion in the first two quarters — carried much of the load for the Bears on Friday. La Cueva scored in all three phases.

Although the Scorpions scored on the game’s opening drive, which proved to be their best few minutes of the night, La Cueva dominated the rest of the way.

Armenta and Sanchez hooked up on a 48-yard pitch-and-catch TD, Posa returned a punt 49 yards for a score, and Myuh Robertson had a 3-yard touchdown run all within a span of 3½ minutes in the first quarter.

Armenta threw three more touchdown passes in the second quarter, two to Sanchez and a third to Mason Crowell. Also, Tony Dominguez returned a fumble (caused by Posa) for a score. It was 48-13 at halftime.

“This is a great group,” Back said. “The top four, five teams have a shot at it, and we’re one of those teams. You need as much luck as talent to win it.”

Posa said he was most proud of his punt return for a touchdown. He said he had tried it twice before this season but had ball security issues.

“That was my third time,” he said. “I’m shocked coach Back let me get another chance. i was like, ‘Coach, you gotta give me one more chance.’ ”

Farmington 7-6-0-6 — 19
La Cueva 21-27-7-7 — 62
Scoring: Trel Griego 5 run (Tate James kick); LC, Ian Sanchez 48 pass from Aidan Armenta (Mason Crowell kick); LC, Mason Posa 49 punt return (Crowell kick); LC, Myuh Robertson 3 run (Crowell kick); LC, Crowell 6 pass from Armenta (Crowell kick); F, Waylon Schake 17 pass from Griego (kick blocked); LC, Sanchez 12 pass from Armenta (kick blocked); LC, Sanchez 25 pass from Armenta (Crowell kick); LC, Tony Dominguez 23 fumble return (Crowell kick); LC, Armenta 27 run (Nathan Flores kick); LC, Jacob Marion 6 pass from Cam Dyer (Flores kick). Records: LC 9-1, 4-1 in 2-6A; F 5-5, 3-1.

First downs: F 16; LC 15. Rushes-yards: F 36-82; LC 19-91. Passing: F 12-26-1—140; LC 15-19-0—227. Total offense: F 222; LC 318. Punts-avg.: F 3-21.3; LC 1-69.0. Fumbles-lost: F 4-1; LC 0-0. Penalties-yards: F 7-78; LC 11-125.

CLEVELAND 35, RIO RANCHO 14: At Cleveland, the top-ranked Storm won at Lightning Bolt Stadium for the 18th time in 19 games. Senior running back Josh Perry ran for three touchdowns, quarterback Evan Wysong ran for two more as the Storm rallied from 14-0 down to capture the District 1-6A championship in the annual City of Vision matchup.

Just like last year’s district meeting at Rio Rancho, when the Storm (8-2, 4-0) trailed the Rams 20-0 at halftime, the Rams (6-4, 2-2) had a 14-0 lead in the second quarter.

No problem for the No. 1 Storm, who scored the game’s final 35 points on rushing TDs, in succession, of 45, 3 and 23 yards by Perry, followed by scoring runs of 1 and 27 yards by Wysong.

“We’ve been in those situations; we know if we just keep doing what we do, we know it’ll eventually click,” said Perry, who missed most of last season with a broken collarbone. “I’m full-go every play.”

“We ain’t done,” first-year Storm coach Robert Garza told his players after they accepted three trophies, including the District 1-6A championship trophy. “(This) is our first goal of the year.”

It was the eighth time in a row Cleveland beat Rio Rancho, including 2019 and 2021 state championship games.

Perry finished with 25 carries for 220 yards.

J.J. Arellano scored Rio Rancho’s first touchdown, capping a 52-yard, 11-play drive with a 17-yard run. Arellano jumped up and threw over the linemen to Javas Maria for a 1-yard TD pass to make it 14-0.

— Gary Herron

ALSO FRIDAY NIGHT: Hobbs (9-1, 4-1 in 3-6A) won 42-7 at Carlsbad, putting the Eagles in position to earn a first-round playoff bye. The district champion in that league, Centennial (8-1, 5-0) turned aside Las Cruces at the Field of Dreams, 35-14. …

In Los Lunas, the Tigers (6-4, 4-0 in 5-6A) won a district title, routing Clovis 54-0. …

Deming clinched a district title in Class 5A as the Wildcats beat visiting Gadsden 29-12. …

Lovington, Silver and Taos clinched 4A district championships. The Wildcats (4-6) went on the road and beat Portales (8-2) 20-14 in a battle for the District 4/6 championship, the Colts (9-1) outlasted Valencia (4-6) 13-0 for the District 3/5 crown, and the Tigers (9-1) downed Moriarty (7-3) 28-7 in a showdown in District 2. …

In the metro area, Volcano Vista (8-2) blasted Atrisco Heritage (5-5) at Nusenda Community Stadium, 50-0. At Milne Stadium, Los Alamos routed winless Del Norte, 56-6. …

In the 8-Man playoffs, Menaul, the No. 8 seed, was ousted 50-0 by No. 1 seed Lordsburg. …

Belen and Highland both lost 50-0 in their final games; the Eagles lost at Piedra Vista, the Hornets at Miyamura. …

Albuquerque Academy (6-4, 1-2 in 4/6-4A) won 27-24 at Bernalillo (2-7, 0-3) as the Chargers look to have a first-round home game in the Class 4A postseason.

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