1. Cleveland (8-1, 2-0 in 1-5A) at Rio Rancho (6-3, 1-1), 7 p.m. Thursday: It’s a young rivalry, but already one of the best in New Mexico. This game gets Thursday night treatment because RRHS is hosting the state cross-country meet Saturday. The District 1-5A title is at stake, plus territorial bragging rights.
2. Sandia (7-2, 2-0 in 2-5A) at La Cueva (3-6, 1-1), 7 p.m. Friday, Wilson Stadium: For Sandia, it’s simple. Win, and win the 2-5A title. Lose, and that opens the door for the Bears to sneak away with it. But La Cueva would have to win this game by at least nine points to make that happen, and the Bears would also need Manzano to beat Eldorado. If Eldorado beats Manzano on Thursday, then La Cueva needs only to win this game by any margin to claim the 2-5A crown.
3. Las Cruces (9-0, 3-0 in 3-5A) vs. Mayfield (8-1, 3-0), 7 p.m. Friday, Aggie Memorial Stadium: The state’s greatest rivalry in its full glory at NMSU. The Bulldawgs are trying to complete a perfect regular season. Frankly, even if they lose this game, they’ll still get a top-four seed and first-round bye. Mayfield has more to play for on Friday. District 3-5A championship goes to winner.
4. Carlsbad (6-3, 1-0 in 4-5A) at Clovis (4-5, 0-1), 7 p.m. Friday: The Cavemen came up big last week against Hobbs; now they visit Leon Williams Stadium. The Wildcats must win this game to secure a slot in the playoffs. They can take the district title, as well, but need to win by at least eight points. The Cavemen take 4-5A with either a win or a loss of seven points or fewer. Hobbs is out of the picture for the 4-5A crown.
5. Manzano at Eldorado, 7 p.m. Thursday, Wilson Stadium: So many possibilities are up in the air with 2-5A in terms of order of finish. But if Eldorado wins by at least four points, the Eagles probably will end up as 2-5A’s second-place team and get to the playoffs. Moreover, they would deal a likely fatal blow to Manzano’s chances for the postseason — if Sandia also beats La Cueva on Friday.
6. Cibola (6-3, 1-1 in 1-5A) at Volcano Vista (5-4, 0-2), 7 p.m. Friday, Community Stadium: Cibola is locked and loaded for the playoffs now after rallying past Rio Rancho. The Hawks likely also will get in, but they had better show up in spades this week to help convince the selection committee.
— James Yodice