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James Yodice: Five prep football games to watch, Week 9 (Oct. 20-22)

1. Eldorado (4-3, 1-1 in 2-6A) at Manzano (5-2, 2-0), Wilson Stadium, 7 p.m. Friday: A terrific matchup between two old rivals, and a great contrast between this Eagles’ offense, which doesn’t the credit it should, and the Monarchs’ defense, which is probably the best in this half of the state not named Rio Rancho. Eldorado defense was stellar in win over Sandia; that must continue.YODICE-James_2012

2. St. Pius (7-1, 2-0 in 5-5A) at Los Lunas (5-2, 0-1), 7 p.m. Friday: Hard to believe that this has become a must-win for the Tigers, who have lost two in a row, including that stunning last-second loss at Belen on Friday. (Must-win if they want to win the district, I mean.) Without RB O’maury Samuels and QB Nick Gaerlan, who were both injured in the Belen game, Los Lunas faces an uphill battle against the Sartans.

3. Centennial (7-1, 4-0 in 3-6A) vs. Las Cruces (6-1, 3-0), Field of Dreams, 7 p.m. Saturday: Well, here it is, the game that almost certainly will decide the district champion in 3-6A. The Hawks have had the Bulldawgs’ number, beating them in both 2014 and 2015 in super-tight games. Winner here seems fairly certain to earn top-four seed for playoffs, as well. Two backup QBs could be starting here.

4. Roswell (6-1) at Artesia (6-1), 7 p.m. Friday: An outstanding matchup for a District 4-5A opener. The Bulldogs have just the one loss to Cleveland, while the Coyotes — truly the most under-the-radar top team in the 5A division — suffered a one-sided loss to Los Lunas. Winner here, as with Cruces-Centennial, staring at a very likely top-four seed and first-round bye.

5. Sandia (4-3, 1-1 in 2-6A) at La Cueva (4-3, 1-1), Wilson Stadium, 7 p.m. Thursday: This is a supremely important game, especially in a deep league like 2-6A. The loser could easily finish in fifth place in the league, and that could spell doom when the playoff field is chosen.

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