By Ed Nunez
For Enchantment Sports
LOS LUNAS – Before Friday night’s contest between 5A’s top-ranked Los Lunas Tigers and 6A Sandia, much of the talk had centered around Los Lunas senior quarterback Nick Gaerlan and the Tigers’ potent offense.
Gaerlan did have a good night, but pedestrian numbers for him, 16-of-29, for 246 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. But it was the Los Lunas defense that stole the evening.
In a yet another early-season New Mexico prep game that was delayed by lightening (nearly two hours), the Tigers battered Sandia 26-10. But the Tigers led only 13-10 at the half.
Sandia junior running back, Leshawn Joseph – who rushed for 291 yards in the Matadors’ 27-21 season-opening loss to Cibola – never got going against Los Lunas.
And because of the Tigers’ relentless pursuit, the Matadors were unable to get their running game going at all, finishing with 57 yards rushing on 39 carries.
Senior defensive tackle Zion Gonzales, sophomore defensive end Tyler Kiehne, senior defensive lineman Garrett Lucero and junior cornerback Alex Lucero were among those that stood out. But, it really was a total team defensive effort as the Tigers pressured and harassed Sandia junior quarterback, Junior Silva into a 9-of-20 passing night for 185 yards – and he was sacked nine times.
The Matadors finished with 242 total yards, while the Tigers had 383 yards.
Los Lunas second-year coach, Jeremy Maupin, the former Artesia Bulldog assistant has the Tigers and their fans believing this could be a championship season.
… Elsewhere, in a rematch of last year’s 5A championship game, Artesia (1-2) took a 28-14 win against Belen (2-0)
The Bulldogs, ranked No. 1 in the preseason, also beat the Eagles in that 2017 title game.
Ed Nunez is a play-by-play announcer for ProView Networks and a contributor to Enchantment Sports. If you have information, tips or questions for Ed, please send to EnchantmentsportsNM@gmail.com.