By Ed Nuñez
Enchantment Sports Staff Writer
The top-seeded Roswell Coyotes (8-2), second-seeded Goddard (8-1-1), third-seeded Los Lunas (7-2) and fourth-seeded and defending state champion Artesia (6-4) all have byes this week when the Class 5A state football playoffs begin.
Los Lunas went unbeaten to win District 5 while the other three southern heavyweights are all from District 4.
The other eight teams in the 12-team playoff are all in action this week, with three games tonight at 7.
One of the more intriguing matchup’s is ninth-seeded Santa Teresa (8-2), out of District 3, at eighth-seeded Valley (6-4). The Vikings got the home game, which is today at Milne at 7 p.m.
Both teams have had their up’s and downs throughout the season, and that fact was not lost on Santa Teresa head coach Shae Vierra.
“We were a little upset about the ninth seed,” said Vierra. “We felt that we deserved a home game.
“Valley is very similar to us; we do run the ball a little more. Offensively, they remind us of El Paso Horizon.”
The Warriors defeated the El Paso team 34-16 on September 28.
The Warriors are healthy, with the exception of senior wide receiver/safety, Zion Brisby, who has a high ankle sprain and will be a game-time decision.
The last time the Warriors were in the playoffs was 2010. According to Vierra, this season has a different feel.
“The last time, in 2010, we limped into the playoffs,” Vierra said. “This time, expectations are different. We feel good about our chances.”
Valley head coach Judge Chavez was equally optimistic about his team’s position.
“We are happy that we got a home game,” said Chavez. “We had been having a hard time running the football, and some extra time on the blocking sled has really paid off.”
The return of senior running back AJ Beltran has also helped.
“Our coaching staff put a plan together back in January, and everything is starting to come together,” Chavez said. “This is one of (only) ten Valley teams that has ever been to the playoffs in the school history.”
The winner of this game faces top-seeded Roswell in Roswell’s Wool Bowl next week.
The fifth-seeded Piedra Vista Panthers, coached by Jared Howell, are 7-3 and went 3-0 in District 1. The Panthers, winners of four of their last five, play host to 12th-seeded Del Norte (4-6). The Knights, coached by Bruce Binkley, started the season 0-4 but won District 2 with a 3-0 record.
The winner travels to Artesia next week.
Sixth-seeded Belen (6-4), coached by Greg Hennington, was runner-up in District 5. The Eagles host 11th-seeded Valencia (6-4), coached by Wes Shank. The Jaguars went 0-3 in District 5.
The Eagles defeated the Jaguars 28-21 on October 28 at Valencia. The winner plays another District 5 foe next week, heading to Los Lunas.
No. 10 Farmington (5-5), coached by Jeff Dalton, went 2-1 in District 1. The Scorpions travel 414 miles to take on seventh-seeded Deming (6-3-1), the District 3 champs at 3-0. The host Wildcats are coached by Greg Simmons.
This is the only Saturday game in 5A, with kickoff slated for 1 p.m. The winner faces Goddard next week in Roswell.
St. Pius (7-3) cruised through District 2 with a 5-0 record and earned the top seed under coach Dave Montoya, thus getting a bye this week.
Next week, the Sartans will play host to the winner of Saturday’s game between eighth-seeded Ruidoso (6-4) and ninth-seeded Aztec (5-5). The game is in Ruidoso at noon.
No. 11 Bernalillo (6-4), in the playoffs after a long drought, is at sixth-seeded Lovington (5-5) tonight at 7, The Spartans are coached by John Cobos and the Wildcats are coached by Anthony Gonzales. The winner is at third-seeded Taos next week.
Fifth-seeded Bloomfield (6-4), coached by Bob Alcorn, plays host to No. 12 Moriarty (3-7), coached by Joe Anaya, tonight at 7. The winner advances to play fourth-seeded Kirtland Central Broncos next week. Also, 10th-seeded Silver (5-5) is at No. 7 Grants (8-2) on Saturday at 1.
Hope Christian (10-0) has the top seed and a bye this week. The Huskies, coached by Gary Beck, play at home next week against the winner of Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. game between eighth-seeded and host Zuni (7-3) and ninth-seeded Tularosa (5-5).
Ed Nuñez is a play-by-play announcer for ProView Networks and a staff writer with Enchantment Sports. If you have information, tips or questions for Ed, please send to EnchantmentsportsNM@gmail.com.