Prep football: La Cueva passing combo enjoying a spectacular season - Albuquerque Journal

Prep football: La Cueva passing combo enjoying a spectacular season

La Cueva’s Ian Sanchez (left) makes a catch in front of Farmington’s Alex Serrano during Nov. 11 playoff action at Wilson Stadium. (Mike Sandoval/For the Journal)

There is a line that runs through the football relationship between Aidan Armenta and Ian Sanchez, a line that originated over a decade ago and one that terminates Saturday at Wilson Stadium.

That line traces back to their days as little boys in the neighborhood, to their Saturday mornings in YAFL uniforms, and later to the summer days of 7 on 7s.

“Brothers,” La Cueva football coach Brandon Back said of his massively productive and often unstoppable quarterback/slot receiver duo.

There’s arguably not been a more electric or effective QB/receiver combo this season in New Mexico than Armenta and Sanchez.

Armenta is the senior quarterback who soon will be sign with the University of New Mexico. Sanchez is his childhood friend, Armenta’s favorite target and a touchdown-making machine for the aerial-happy Bears.

“When me and him are on and clicking,” said Sanchez, “we’re the best in the state.”

These two almost never are not clicking, and their production is one of the major story lines of Saturday’s Class 6A state championship game between the second-seeded Bears (11-1) and No. 1 Cleveland (10-2) at Wilson Stadium.

“When you have guys that make you look good, it doesn’t give you anxiousness or nervousness,” Armenta said with a smile.

Armenta has thrown 45 touchdown passes; 22 have landed in the hands of Sanchez, who has 92 catches (about 7½ catches a game) for 1,590 yards.

“I’m so comfortable with Ian,” said Armenta, who likens their football relationship to the one that defines Las Vegas Raiders (and chums) QB Derek Carr and WR Devante Adams. “I know exactly what he’s gonna do.”

The 5-foot-11, 165-pound Sanchez certainly is no ordinary weapon; there’s only been one game this season in which Sanchez hasn’t caught a touchdown pass, and he’s had multiple TD receptions in half of La Cueva’s 12 games. He scores at a rate usually reserved for high school running backs.

“We knew he had that potential,” said Back, and La Cueva certainly has the recent pedigree at the receiver position (think Reece Wilkinson, Connor O’Toole, Exodus Ayers) to have an understanding of how Sanchez would and could pan out. “That’s where we hang our hat.”

Sanchez, despite his gaudy receiving numbers, said he only has a pair of NAIA offers so far. Which seemingly makes Saturday the last time he will be catching passes from Armenta in any official capacity.

Exodus Ayers was lined up as the likely No. 1 receiver for the Bears this year coming off a huge junior season, but then Ayers left just prior to the season for a prep school in New Hampshire.

“We relied a lot on X, but I knew with him leaving, I’d have a bigger role,” Sanchez said. “I knew going into 7 on 7s, the way me and Aidan were working together, I knew a big season was coming.”

Back in August, Back said he was confident in his receiving corps and its ability to fill the receptions and touchdowns void created by Ayers’ departure. That was especially true of Sanchez and Jackson Hix, who has 11 touchdowns of his own.

This was true even in the summer of 2021, when Sanchez broke his collarbone, setting him back for a couple of months. But Back, and Armenta, said Sanchez always clearly possessed the traits of a No. 1 receiver.

It’s been the remarkable chemistry between Armenta and Sanchez that has defined this La Cueva offense nearly the entire season. And that goes back to when they were 6 or 7 years old.

“I knew how special he was,” Armenta said. “I knew it would translate onto the field pretty easily. (It’s about) trusting him no matter what. I know he’s gonna be in that spot where I want him to be.”

Home » From the newspaper » Prep football: La Cueva passing combo enjoying a spectacular season


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
Emptying the Notebook: A Birima Seck appreciation article
ABQnews Seeker
Here are some extra notes, quotes, ... Here are some extra notes, quotes, videos, analysis, stats and whatever else I managed to empty out of the old notebook after Tuesday's 102-63 ...
2
Lobos take care of business vs. Western New Mexico, ...
College
All 12 Lobos who played got ... All 12 Lobos who played got in the scoring column, including the walk-ons, and UNM cruised to remain one of the country's final 10 ...
3
Prep basketball: La Cueva girls end Volcano Vista win ...
Boys' Basketball
It was going to happen sooner ... It was going to happen sooner or later. And it finally happened Tuesday night. The Volcano Vista High School girls basketball team hadn't lost ...
4
Lobo football: Haulcy honored again; two players are leaving
College
A.J. Haulcy's standout true freshman season ... A.J. Haulcy's standout true freshman season for the New Mexico Lobos earned him another honor on Tue ...
5
UNM women brace for a different breed of 'Cats ...
College
Different bunch of Wildcats, different set ... Different bunch of Wildcats, different set of challenges. That’s what the University of New Mexico women’s basketball team will face when Abilene Christian visits ...
6
Fleet WR Porter enters transfer portal
College
He's one of several Lobos who've ... He's one of several Lobos who've opted to leave
7
Lobos continue making a dent in national, conference honors
College
Another Monday brought another helping of ... Another Monday brought another helping of praise for the UNM Lobo men's basketball team. Last week, Lobo forward Morris Udeze was named the Mountain ...
8
Lobos-'Cats is a pairing good for both programs
College
Sunday's matchup in the Pit didn't ... Sunday's matchup in the Pit didn't feel like just another pre-conference women's b ...
9
Motown Bound: Aggies to face Bowling Green in Dec. ...
College
New Mexico State football is heading ... New Mexico State football is heading for Detroit to play in the Dec. 26 Quick Lane Bowl vs. Bowling Green in a matchup of ...