FOOTBALL STATE CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEWS DECEMBER 1
La Cueva at Cleveland 1pm
This will be #1 versus #2 for the blue trophy. Both teams come into this one undefeated. The top ranked Storm advanced to the title game by holding on to beat Volcano Vista 43-39. The Bears punched their ticket to the title game after taking down Centennial 41-14. Cleveland High School is back in the championship game for the first time since running the table in 2015.
“I didn’t think we’d be 12-0 going into the state championship, but I knew we’d have a really good team and we’d have a shot to play in the state championship,” said head coach Heath Ridenour.
“It could be a field position game,” said Ridenour. “They have a good defense, we have a good defense. It’s just a matter of which team makes the fewest mistakes.”
For the Bears, this is their second straight trip to the title game.
“It says a lot about the community we have, the kids we have and our coaching staff,” said head coach Brandon Back. “To be back into this game and this situation, we’ve been working for it for the last 12 months, so I’m really proud of the effort our coaching staff and our kids have put in to get back to this point.” The last time La Cueva finished with the blue trophy was 2009.
Los Lunas at Roswell 1pm
The top-ranked Coyotes will be looking for their first state title since 2000, which was also the last time they appeared in the championship. The Tigers have never won a state football championship. Roswell needed every second of the semifinals to earn a trip to the title game. The Coyotes beat Artesia 48-42 on the final play of the game. Los Lunas got the better of Goddard in their semifinal, 41-20.
“We know we have to limit their big plays and we have to play sound defense, read keys, and make sure we get after them,” said Los Lunas head coach Jeremy Maupin. “We just have to stay consistent with what’s got us here too.”
Roswell beat Los Lunas once already this season. The Tigers lost 42-20 back in week four.
“I think we’re also playing a lot better football than we were,” said Maupin. “We’re different than when we played them. We had Nick at quarterback, which we wish we still had. It’s really made us more balanced in some areas and do some things differently and try to play to Kade’s strengths differently. We’re a lot different than the team they saw then and we’re playing our best football.”
“The biggest concern I have is they are much bigger than we are,” said Roswell head coach Jeff Lynn. “I like the matchup. We need to take care of the ball and limit our penalties.”
Bloomfield at Taos 1pm
The Bobcats took down St. Pius X in their semifinal 15-6. Taos took down Portales last week 35-14. It’s the first time Taos has played in the championship game and ever hosted a final. “To win a state title would mean a lot, especially for the town,” said quarterback Justin Good. “It shows that anything can be done with a lot of hard work.”
This journey for the Tigers actually started four years ago when head coach Art Abreu took over the program. He pulled his varsity off the field for having a bad pregame warmup and right then he made a promise to his freshmen. “That was the goal we set out when I talked to them four years ago, right down this way,” said Abreu. “I promised them, if we stick together and we don’t leave each other’s side, something is great at the end of the rainbow.”
“This should be a defensive battle with two evenly matched teams,” said Bloomfield head coach bob Allcorn. “We have speed and quickness and they have a big size advantage. We have to control their run game and create turnovers as we have all season.”
Robertson at Dexter 2pm
The Cardinals are playing in the championship game for the fourth straight year. The last time Dexter won it all was 1997. The Demons have scored 35 points or more every week since mid-October. They posted an impressive 35-7 win last week against West Las Vegas in the semifinals. Robertson knocked off top seed Hope sending the previously unbeaten Huskies home for the holidays, 25-17.