By Edward Nuñez
Enchantment Sports Staff Writer
The tests have come on a weekly basis for 5A’s top-ranked team, the Los Lunas Tigers (3- 0).
First, Los Lunas defeated highly regarded Piedra Vista, then Alamogordo and last week 6A Sandia, 26-10.
On Friday, the Tigers play host to No. 5 Roswell (1-1) at 7 p.m. The tests will continue when the Tigers face Cibola on September 22., and Roswell Goddard on September 28.
But first things first, as the Tigers play host to the fifth-ranked Coyotes this week.
Los Lunas coach Jeremy Maupin, in his second year at the helm, has his concerns about the upcoming foe.
“Roswell is a good team with good speed,” Maupin said. Junior running back Josiah Reese “is fast and catches the ball well out of the backfield.”
Senior quarterback Ethan Valenzuela returned from an injury and “throws a good ball and is a good leader.”
Maupin feels that his front seven on defense matches up well with Roswell.
“We have a bend-but-not-break philosophy, we try to get a lot of hats and swarm to the ball,” Maupin said.
Maupin also felt that the Tigers’ early schedule has helped. “We were up and down last year; we are just trying to take it one week at a time,” he said.
Elsewhere in 5A, second-ranked Artesia (1-2) will host ninth-ranked Deming (1-1) on Friday night at Bulldog Bowl at 7 p.m. Third-ranked Belen (2-1) travels to Albuquerque to take on the winless Highland Hornets (0-3) Friday night at Milne Stadium at 7 p.m. Belen senior running back Diego Casillas, the inaugural Galles Metro Player of the Week, has rushed for 530 yards and four touchdowns on the season.
Piedra Vista, which has rebounded to win two straight and now stands at 2-1, travels to Kirtland Central (1-2) for a Friday night contest. Surprising Santa Teresa, ranked No. 7, takes on Alamogordo, which lost a 57-54 thriller to the Ruidoso Warriors last week.
The Tigers are winless on the season so far. Eighth-ranked and injury-plagued Valley attempts to rebound this week against the Miyamura Patriots, coached by John Roanhaus — son of legendary former Clovis coach, Eric Roanhaus. The Patriots are 0-3 on the season. No. 10 Farmington (1-2) will host Aztec (1-2) in a Four Corners rivalry game, Friday night at 7 p.m.
There are monster matchups in both 5A and 6A football this week.
But while Cleveland and Eldorado try to stay undefeated in their big 6A meeting tonight (Sept. 6), the defending 5A state champions are trying not to remain winless.
The 5A football rankings have shifted a bit, as preseason No. 1 and defending state champion Artesia suffered its second straight defeat, this time at the hands of the Hobbs Eagles, 42-37 last week.
It was a game the Bulldogs led 37-14 before everything changed.
The Bulldogs are 0-2 for the first time since 1986 and are now ranked third in the state.
Belen, the second-ranked team in 5A, defeated Farmington, 26-12 to move to 2-0 heading into its rematch of last year’s 5A state title game on Friday night. Belen senior running back, Diego Casillas – Enchantment Sports’ inaugural Galles Metro Player of the Week last week – is averaging 176.5 yards per game and has scored two touchdowns on the year.
Meanwhile, Los Lunas, this week’s top-ranked team, defeated Alamogordo, 35-12 last week. Tiger senior quarterback Nick Gaerlan is averaging 239.5 passing yards a game and has thrown for three touchdowns.
On Friday, the Tigers (2-0) plays host to 6A Sandia, in what should be a high-scoring affair. The Matadors (1-1) average 41.5 points a game.
No. 4 Roswell (1-1) takes on the 6A Hobbs (2-0) on Friday in the Wool Bowl in Roswell.
Next week, by the way, the Coyotes are at Los Lunas in a huge early-season game.
Also this week, Valley (1-1) is at Piedra Vista (1-1) on Friday night at 7 p.m. Piedra Vista ripped St. Pius 38-6 last week, dropping the Sartans to 0-2.
Valley head coach Judge Chavez says his team is a little banged up heading to Farmington.
“Low numbers do affect your team when you have injuries,” Chavez said. “Right now, we have two offensive linemen injured. Senior running back AJ Beltran is out for several more weeks, and senior wide receiver Garrett Moseley is ‘gimping around a bit.’
“We were undefeated in the 7-on-7 passing league this summer, so we feel like we can throw the ball and move it through the air.”
Elsewhere, No. 7 Goddard (1-0-1) plays at Deming on Friday night. The Rockets’ game against Carlsbad last Friday night was called at the half because of lightning.
Surprising Valencia, 2-0 under new coach Wes Shank, takes on 6A Rio Grande (0-2) tonight at Milne stadium at 7.
Ninth-ranked Del Norte plays host to Farmington on Friday night at Milne Stadium in a battle of 0-2 teams, and 10th-ranked Santa Teresa plays host to Gadsden (0-2) on Friday night.
Ed Nunez is a play-by-play announcer for ProView Networks and a staff writer Enchantment Sports. If you have information, tips or questions for Ed, please send to EnchantmentsportsNM@gmail.com.