By Ed Nunez
The semifinal matchups in class 5A are a rematch of games played earlier this season.
The third-seeded Los Lunas Tigers (8-2) host second-seeded Roswell Goddard Rockets (9-1-1) on Saturday (Nov. 24) at 1 p.m. The last time the teams met in the playoffs was in 2013 at Goddard. By NMMA rules, Goddard owes Los Lunas a home playoff game, even though the Rockets are the higher seed.
The other semifinal is at Roswell’s Wool Bowl on Friday (Nov. 23) at 7 p.m., as fourth-seeded Artesia (7-4) takes on top-seeded Roswell (9-2.)
In last week’s quarterfinals, Los Lunas spotted Belen a 10-0 halftime lead, before winning 21-17.
“Belen gave us some different looks, and we had some drives that we didn’t finish,” said Tigers coach Jeremy Maupin. “We won the second half 21-7, so we feel good about that.”
When it comes to the Rockets, Maupin says “(Senior QB) Dalton Bowles is a stud, their offense goes through him. When we played them (Sept, 28, a 28-27 Goddard home win), that was our first game without senior QB Nick Gaerlan. We were pretty vanilla on offense. We feel like we are farther along now.
“(Goddard) is very good at what they do, we have to match their physicality,” said Maupin.
Goddard head coach Chris White said, “Los Lunas is a real solid, well-balanced team. They present a lot of problems defensively. When we played them, we had game planned for Gaerlan. Cade Benavidez (Los Lunas starting junior QB) is a different style of quarterback. He is real efficient.
“We were down in the first game 14-0 and had to scratch and claw our way back,” said White.
The first time Artesia and Roswell played this season, the Bulldogs eked out a 36-35 win on a late touchdown and a 2-point conversion. The game was Oct. 19 at the Bulldog Bowl.
Roswell head coach, Jeff Lynn is more than familiar with his foe — which won the state title last year.
“We play Artesia on three levels, so it isn’t as if we don’t know each other well,” said Lynn. “There are no secrets; it will come down to who plays better. We are excited, it’s a rivalry game.”
In 4A, the top-seeded St. Pius Sartans (8-3) play host to fifth-seeded Bloomfield (8-4) on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Community Stadium in one semifinal.
Taos is at Portales in the other 4A semifinal on Saturday at 1 p.m.
St. Pius got a measure of revenge in last week’s quarterfinals, defeating Aztec 31-25. The Tigers had defeated Pius on 28-24 on Sept. 28.
The news was not all good for the Sartans, however. Junior quarterback, Derek Rivera went out late in the game with what turned out to be a dislocated ankle and will not play on Saturday.
Sartans coach Dave Montoya said “It was a shame what happened to Rivera. The last two games he had thrown for 520 yards (and seven touchdowns, while rushing for two more TDs).
“We have a couple of options at QB and we are still deciding,” said Montoya. “Bloomfield is very similar to us and it will be a good test for our offense and defense.”
In the 3A semifinals, top-seeded Hope (11-0), coached by Gary Beck, will play host to fifth-seeded Las Vegas Robertson (10-2), coached by Leroy Gonzales.
The game is Friday night at 7 at Milne Stadium. “We didn’t change our routine for the three weeks we were idle and we think that is important,” said Beck, whose team won its season-finale by forfeit, had a bye in the first round of the playoffs and bombed Tularosa 67-14 in last week’s quarterfinals.
“We have not played Las Vegas Robertson in five-to-seven years, but they are a team that has had a deep playoff run and have playoff experience.”
West Las Vegas is at Dexter at 1 p.m. On Saturday in the other semifinal.
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.