(All kickoffs at 7 p.m. Friday)
1 Rio Rancho (9-0, 3-0 in 1-6A) at Cleveland (7-2, 3-0): So much on the line here beyond just the District 1-6A title. There is more upside for the Storm here than for the Rams, who are pretty much assured of a first-round bye. Cleveland can play itself into a bye with a win, but that means likely having to prevail in a shootout.
2 Mayfield (8-1, 3-0 in 3-6A) vs. Las Cruces (5-4, 2-1), Aggie Memorial Stadium: The Trojans are itching for at least some measure of payback after losing last year’s 5A state final 27-26 to the Bulldawgs. They have their chance to pounce as Las Cruces is missing starting QB Kameron Miller (knee; out for season).
3 La Cueva (6-2, 3-0 in 2-6A) at Manzano (4-4, 1-2), Wilson Stadium: Unlike Rio Rancho vs. Cleveland or Mayfield vs. Las Cruces, the Bears are not playing for a district title. They locked that up last week. But this remains a game the Bears want, anyway. Manzano really could use a win over a quality team.
4 Hobbs (4-5, 1-1 in 4-6A) at Clovis (4-5, 2-0): The Wildcats, beaten down by some excellent teams – Rio Rancho, Cleveland, Goddard, et al. – during the first two-thirds of the season, can win the District 4-6A title if they can get past the Eagles. Hobbs needs a large victory (12 points at least) to steal it away.
5 Artesia (8-1, 3-0 in 4-5A) at Lovington (5-4, 0-2): These great rivals – back in the same district for the first time since 1999 – are forever the answer to a trivia question. In 1987, they played to a scoreless tie in the Class 3A state championship game and were declared co-champs. That was the last time New Mexico declared co-champs. If memory serves, it was that game in Lovington, which I covered, that helped spur the state to revise its rule regarding ties in a state final.