By Ed Nuñez
Enchantment Sports Staff Writer
It certainly wasn’t something he enjoyed doing, but Los Lunas senior safety Michael Montoya used the Tigers’ heartbreaking loss to Roswell Goddard earlier this year as a learning lesson.
Now the Tigers (9-2) are hoping they know what it takes to win the Class 5A state football championship. They play at Roswell (10-2) at 1 p.m. Saturday in the title game.
On Sept. 28, Goddard took a thrilling 28-27 overtime win against Los Lunas.
Last Saturday, Montoya took that knowledge from the loss – as did the rest of his teammates – to the field in Los Lunas, and led the Tigers to 41-20 spanking of the Rockets in the Class 5A football state semifinals.
“Coach (Jeremy Maupin) said no matter what happens, set the tone; this won’t be the last game for our seniors. The goal is to bring home that blue (state title) trophy,” said Montoya. “That has been our goal since the first day of the summer.”
That goal took a hit when the Rockets won the teams’ first meeting. But the Tigers haven’t lost since, and Montoya – who goes by Mikey – is a big reason. In last week’s revenge win against Goddard, Montoya had two interceptions and “was in on numerous tackles” according to Maupin.
“He is one of our senior leaders and he has been a solid foundation on building this championship team,” Maupin said.
And he’s also Enchantment Sports’ Galles Chevrolet Metro Player of the Week.
The honor might have come as a nice surprise to Montoya, but the victory against Goddard did not.
“We played a heck of a game,” said Montoya, who is also on the wrestling, and track and fields teams at Los Lunas. “Every practice we were focused, and we were ready to play them. I wasn’t surprised at all, once we stepped out on that football field.”
And Maupin wasn’t surprised with Montoya’s performance.
The 5-foot-10, 175-pound senior free safety has 64 solo tackles, 22 assisted tackles, three tackles for loss and six interceptions this season.
“He is a great young man,” Maupin said.
Montoya also is pretty high on Maupin, who is in his second year as Tigers coach.
“Coach Maupin has impacted lives and has to be one of the best coaches I have ever had,” Montoya said.
When he’s not learning lessons on the field, he’s learning them in the classroom. Montoya’s said his favorite subject is science.
“I love conducting experiments and seeing what nature can do,” Montoya said.
Montoya also enjoys hunting and is very close with his five nieces (ages 12, 10, 9, 2 and 2).
On Saturday, Montoya and the Tigers try to avenge their only other loss this season. Roswell’s Coyotes won their first get-together with Los Lunas, 42-20.
But don’t be surprised if it’s different this go-around. Chances are good, Maupin, Montoya and the Tigers have learned a few things since.
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.
The Metro Player of the Week feature is chosen by Enchantment Sports with the assistance of ProView Networks, and sponsored by Galles Chevrolet and Totally Dazzling.
Each week, we will feature a top-notch athlete from the area.
To learn more about the Galles Metro Player of the Week, click here.
To make a nomination, email the staff at EnchantmentSportsNM@gmail.com.