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Prep football: 5 games to watch in Week 9

5 games to watch in Week 9

1. Volcano Vista (5-2) at Rio Rancho (5-2), 7 p.m. Friday: The Hawks return to Rio Rancho, 11 months after their stunning win over the top-seeded Rams in the 5A state quarterfinals. The Rams are coming out of their bye week, which arrived just in time the way they’ve been going of late. Can the Rams handle Volcano’s physicality?

2. Cleveland (6-1) at Cibola (5-2), 7 p.m. Thursday, Community Stadium: This district, 1-5A, is tougher than even 2-5A this season. Cibola’s defense has been red-hot of late; its offense, not so much, with a 24 combined points in the last two games. The Cleveland defense has been stellar.

3. Sandia (5-2) at Manzano (4-3), 7 p.m. Thursday, Wilson Stadium: The Monarchs, after that 3-0 start, have lost three of four, and the offense – like Cibola’s – is having a rough time. Manzano is averaging only 13 points a game over its last five games. But Sandia looked shockingly vulnerable in its loss to Clovis.

4. La Cueva (2-5) at Eldorado (3-4), 7 p.m. Friday, Wilson Stadium: What?! La Cueva-Eldorado as the No. 4 choice? Yes, indeed. The Bears, much more than the Eagles, are in must-win mode; it is difficult to imagine La Cueva reaching the playoffs without getting at least one district win in 2-5A, and it may take two out of three. Will Eldorado get top receivers Craig Buzzard and Jonah Mestas back from injury?

5. Silver (5-2) at St. Michael’s (7-0), 1:30 p.m. Saturday: A rematch of last year’s Class 3A state championship game, won narrowly by the Horsemen. St. Mike’s is one of three teams that have yet to lose in the upper divisions (5A, 4A, 3A). Las Cruces and Valley are the other two.

– James Yodice