By Ed Nuñez
Enchantment Sports Staff Writer
The Valley Vikings’ move from 6A to 5A classification did not come without some pitfalls.
The Vikings opened the season with a convincing, 29-8 win over independent Albuquerque High. Valley did lose some key players to injury that night, however, and in its next two outings lost soundly to La Cueva (45-0) and Piedra Vista (26-6).
The game vs. the Panthers is one that still bothers Valley head coach, Judge Chavez.
“The game was tied 6-6,” Chavez said. “We threw a red-zone interception before half and we had to throw the ball a lot in the second half and really, never recovered.”
But there is light at the end of what may be a playoff tunnel for Valley.
In the Vikings’ last two games, they have decided wins over Miyamura (53-0) and Highland (41-6).
But the Patriots and the Hornets are a combined 1-10 this season and, “those are the games we have to win,” Chavez said.
The eighth-ranked Vikings (3-2) look to add to their winning streak on Saturday when they take on the Del Norte Knights (1-5) at 1 p.m. at Milne Stadium, followed by an Oct. 12 clash against the 1-5 Rio Grande Ravens.
While Chavez isn’t looking past the Knights or Ravens, Valley is hopeful of heading into an Oct. 19 showdown with the Belen Eagles (3-3) with a 5-2 record and a four-game winning streak.
Senior D.J. Torres, who has yet to play this season due to an injury suffered in fall camp, returns to the Vikings lineup this week.
Torres is “a player who can return punts and kicks, plays wide receiver and can play quarterback in a pinch,” Chavez said. “He played as a freshman and sophomore, sat out as a junior and got injured during a preseason scrimmage.”
Also returning to the lineup is junior offensive guard Jerome Barboa, who injured an ankle in the opener against Albuquerque High.
“Jerome is (6-foot-2) and weighs 302 pounds and is an experienced lineman,” Chavez said. “His return is important for a team with low depth numbers.”
Senior running back A.J. Beltran, who fractured his left foot also against Albuquerque High, has had his cast taken off and is now in a walking boot.
“He may return in time for Belen,” Chavez said.
While Valley looks to elevate itself among the Class 5A elite, Chavez lauded another school for its surprising run so far in 2018.
“I always knew that Roswell, Piedra Vista and Los Lunas were good,” Chavez said, “but Santa Teresa (6-0) is unbeaten, so they must be doing something right.”
ELSEWHERE IN 5A: The top-ranked Roswell Coyotes (4-1) who are coming off of a huge win last week against Belen, travels to El Paso Cathedral (0-3). The second-ranked Goddard Rockets (4-0-1), who beat Los Lunas last week 28-27 in an overtime thriller, will play host to the Lovington Wildcats (3-3), the No. 2 team in 4A.
The third-ranked Artesia Bulldogs (3-3) will host 4A’s third-ranked Ruidoso Warriors (6-1). The No. 4 Los Lunas Tigers (4-2) are idle until October 19 when they will host the Valencia Jaguars (4-2).
But the Tigers will have to play the rest of the season without star senior quarterback, Nick Gaerlan (pictured above), who has a torn ACL and is out for the season.
“It’s one of those things that you hate for Nick Gaerlan, you absolutely can’t handle it,” Los Lunas coach Jeremy Maupin told Enchantment Sports on Thursday.
Fifth-ranked Santa Teresa, 5A’s only unbeaten and untied team, is idle this week and will host Roswell Goddard on October 12. The Piedra Vista Panthers (3-2), ranked No. 6, will take on the Albuquerque High Bulldogs (2-3).
Seventh-ranked Belen (3-3), reeling a bit after two consecutive losses, looks to rebound when it hosts the No. 9 Deming Wildcats (3-2-1.)
Each of the 5A contests this week mentioned above are scheduled for Friday night at 7 p.m.
Tenth-ranked Valencia (4-2) travels to Los Alamos (4-2) tonight for a 7 p.m. matchup.
Ed Nunez is a play-by-play announcer for ProView Networks and covers high school football for Enchantment Sports. If you have tips or story ideas for Ed, email EnchantmentSportsNM@gmail.com.