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Prep football: Five games to watch this week

(All games at 7 p.m. Friday.)

■ 1. Rio Rancho (6-0) at Cleveland (6-0): The only two remaining 6A unbeatens clash, at last. The winner has the inside track to the District 1-6A championship, although Volcano Vista may have a voice in this later on. Perhaps more importantly, the winner almost certainly will earn a first-round playoff bye when the time comes, barring a collapse in the final month. And far more urgent than any of that, there are city bragging rights.

■ 2. Eldorado (3-2) at Clovis (3-2): Eagles coach Charlie Dotson was convinced Eldorado had never won a game at Leon Williams Stadium. After checking with longtime Clovis coach Eric Roanhaus, he told me that the Eagles did, in fact, win down there — in the late 1970s. Expect the placekickers for both these teams to be busy on PATs on Friday. A District 2-6A opener.

■ 3. Oñate (4-2, 2-0 in 3-6A) at Carlsbad (2-4, 0-2): This is almost must-win territory for the Cavemen after already losing at home to Centennial on Friday. The Knights are coming off their best win in many years (Mayfield), and — with Las Cruces and Centennial still ahead — this is a road trip that carries great meaning for Oñate. And others.

■ 4. Manzano (3-2) at La Cueva (3-2), Wilson Stadium: Shockingly, this game has the potential to see both teams score — THE HORROR! — in the 20s, given the relative strength of both defenses. Manzano not only has to face La Cueva on a short week, but the Bears are coming off a bye week, and played West Mesa and Highland the two weeks prior to that. So the Bears have had bonus time prepping for this one, which is another District 2-6A opener.

■ 5. Artesia (5-1) at Alamogordo (3-2): This will be the Bulldogs’ first road game since Sept. 9, and it’s a doozy. The Tigers aren’t that far from being undefeated, what with close losses to Los Lunas (a game stopped early by weather) and last week at Goddard.

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