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With 2018 in the rear view mirror, here’s a look back at the fall sports champions from this past school year.

recaps written by J.P. Murrieta/Tyler Dunkel



Panthers Win Back-to-Back Titles

Second verse same as the first.  The Animas Panthers claimed the 2018 6-man football championship after beating Elida 59-21 in the final game at Billy Henson Stadium.  It was a matchup of the top two teams in the state as unbeaten Animas entered the postseason with the #1 ranking.  The Panthers didn’t waste any time getting on the board.  On their first possession, Animas marched downfield and on 3rdand 10 from the 15, senior quarterback Jimmy Moreno connected with Jaiden Ybarra for the first score of the day.  A conversion catch from Moreno to Tell Swift made it 7-0 Animas on their home field.

After exchanging possessions, Animas marched downfield before end of first quarter.

On third down again, the Panthers called for a play action pass from Moreno to Ybarra again for 16 yards and another score.  14-0 Panthers with about a minute left in the opening quarter.

Elida got on the board in the second quarter.  Levi Kline capped off the Tigers’ drive with a six yard smash-mouth carry across the goaline on third down.  Elida’s Will Haley used some fancy work for the conversion.  Haley fumbled the handoff, picked it back up and then punched it in around the corner making it a 14-7 game.

When Animas got the ball back, they found the endzone once again.  On 4thand goal, the Panthers turned in a highlight that was Sportscenter-worthy.  Moreno looked to the corner of the endzone for his target John Holder.  Elida’s Baylee Oder went up for the interception. What looked like a great defensive effort turned into an amazing touchdown as Holder stripped the ball away from Oder as he went to the ground.  Animas touchdown.  The Panthers were up 20-7 with a little over four minutes to go in the first half.

Elida would get into the endzone one more time before the break with the biggest play of the half. The Tigers called a quick toss screen pass to Will Haley.  The junior then he made a nice cut and made his way to the goaline.  Haley went 55 yards for the score with 2:48 left in half. Kline would barrell in for the conversion making it 20-14. But the scoring wasn’t done.

With less than two minutes to go, Animas went for it on fourth down from their own 11.  The Panthers called a quick toss back to Swift who was looking to throw, but instead carried it across the goalline himself, going up and over and Elida defender.  Swift also converted the extra point to make it 27-14 Animas at the break.

The second half started just like the first for Animas.  They marched downfield on their first possession. From the eight yard line, the Panthers went with another play action call. Moreno to Swift again for the score.  Swift would add another conversion to make it 34-14 Animas.

Later in the quarter, from the 6-yard line, Swift would score his third straight touchdown for the Panthers.  Moreno would connect with Swift again for the conversion making it 41-14.

The Panthers still had some scoring left in them for the third quarter. On second and goal, senior Levi Guillam would get in from the one-yard line making the score 47-14.

Animas extended their lead in the fourth quarter.  The Panthers dug deep into the playbook for a fake reverse call.  Swift, with the ball in his hands, cutback up field and went 37 yards to make it 53-14.  A couple minutes later, Moreno would connect with Orin Offutt on a touchdown pass and catch to grow their lead to 59-14.  Elida would add a late touchdown resulting in a 59-21 victory for Animas. It was their second straight title and 9thoverall for the school.  David Ramirez and the Panthers capped off the perfect season with a 10-0 record.  Elida was 9-2 with their only two losses coming at the hands of Animas.


3rdtime is the charm for Tatum

Coaches will tell you it’s hard to beat a team three times in one season.  The 2018 8-man football championship is a perfect example of that theory.  Tatum lost to Gateway Christian twice during the regular season, but when it counted most the Coyotes had their revenge.  Tatum defeated Gateway Christian 28-20 to win their first football title since 2003.

Gateway Christian got on the board first in the first quarter.  Quarterback Wyatt Arlet went to the air and found Jaydon Stephens who made his way to the endzone.  The 42-yard scoring play made it 6-0 Warriors.  Tatum would find the endzone for the first time later in the quarter. Quarterback Sebastian Jimenez dumped off a screen pass to Luis Cervantes and the sophomore running back did the rest. The 32-yard touchdown and extra point gave the Coyotes a 7-6 lead.  The score remained that way well into the second quarter.  On a third and long situation, Jimenez took the snap and pitched it to Cervantes who went down the sideline 50 yards for their second score of the day.  Tatum took a 14-6 lead over the top ranked Warriors into the lockeroom at halftime. In the third quarter, the two teams put up a defensive fight and it was a big defensive play that got Gateway Christian back into the game.  The Warriors blocked a Tatum punt that rolled into the endzone and Jeremiah Capps fell on the ball giving Gateway Christian a much-needed score.  The Warriors missed a second straight extra point conversion attempt, so Tatum still held onto a 14-12 lead.  Late in the quarter, the Coyotes would tack on another score. Scott Alexander went right up the middle 35-yards to the endzone giving Tatum a 21-12 lead.  With only one more quarter to play, the Warriors would punch one in.  Arlet would connect with Stephens for their second touchdown combination on the day. This 32-yard scoring strike and two-point conversation made it a 21-20 game.  Tatum would add an insurance score later in the fourth on a three-yard carry by Jimenez that made the final score 28-20.

Tatum capped off their championship season with a 10-2 record while Gateway Christian finished at 9-2.

video courtesy ProView/NFHS


Eunice Earns 14th State Football Title

The Eunice Cardinals (12-0) captured their 14th overall football championship with a 35-6 victory over the Santa Rosa Lions (11-2) in the 2018 NMAA 2A State Football Championship game. It was the second straight title for the Cardinals, as Eunice won the 3A blue trophy in 2017.

The Cardinals struck first as quarterback Mason Caperton hit wide receiver Evan McCalip for 37-yard touchdown pass, giving Eunice a 6-0 with 5:16 left in the 1stquarter. The Cardinals tried a 2-point conversion but that try failed.

Over the remainder of the quarter, both team were back and forth but neither team could punch the ball across the goal line as the 1stquarter ended with Eunice leading 6-0.

Santa Rosa had their first opportunity to get on the board in the second with a 23-yard field goal attempt but the kick was missed wide right with 10:22 left in the half.

Eunice struck again late in the 2ndquarter on a 2-yard rush by Avante Stevens. The 2-point conversion was good, giving Eunice a 14-0 lead with just 48 seconds left in the half.

Santa Rosa started the second half with the ball but was forced to punt the ball back to the Cardinals. Eunice then put together a four-minute drive ending with a Caperton quarterback sneak makes it 21-0 with 6:16 to go in the 3rdquarter.

The Cardinals extended their lead to 28-0 with just minutes left in the third as Caperton connected with Michael Copeland on an 11-yard touchdown pass.

The Lions got on the scoreboard on the ensuing kickoff as Stephen Sanchez scored on 96-yard touchdown return to make it 28-6. The 2-point conversion was no good with 1:33 left in the 3rdquarter.

The Cardinals took their second possession of the fourth quarter into the red zone but a fumble by Caperton gave Santa Rosa the ball back on their own 3-yard line. Two plays later, Eunice scores on a 3-yard interception return by Felix Gonzales to extend their lead to 35-6 with just over seven minutes to play in the game.

In the end, the lead was too much for the Lions to over comes, As Eunice captured their second straight blue trophy with a final score of 35-6.

video courtesy ProView/NFHS


Dexter Feeling Blue Once Again

You could say the football program has come full circle at Dexter High School.  The Demons last won a state football championship in 1997. At that time, Arturo Duran was their quarterback and David Campbell was a first-year head coach at the school. Fast forward to 2018 and Duran is a first-year head coach with Campbell as his athletic director and once again the Demons were lifting the blue trophy at the end of the season.

Dexter beat Robertson 22-12 in the Class 3A Championship game.  Dexter was on the board first in the first on their home field.  Less than five minutes into the game, Dexter quarterback Jarren Amaro had no one to throw to, so he scrambled to his left and headed for the endzone.  Diving for the pylon, Amaro scored the first touchdown of the day.  The extra point was no good, giving the Demons a 6-0 lead. Robertson would respond with a big play once they got their hands on the ball. Senior quarterback Brandon Lucero aired it out to Antonio Padilla across the middle for a 48-yard touchdown pass. The extra point was no good to keep the score tied at 6-6.  Dexter would regain the lead in the first quarter.  With less than three minutes to go in the quarter, Amaro was scrambling, avoiding multiple Robertson defenders.  He moved around long enough to find his teammate Isaac Irigoyon for the completion.  The senior did the rest and found his way to the endzone.  It was 34-yard touchdown combination.  Again, the extra point was no good as the Demons took a 12-6 lead. The score remained the same until the third quarter.

Coming out of halftime, Dexter kicked off to the Cardinals.  The Robertson players let the kick bounce over them and Dexter senior Nick Cobos recovered the ball inside the 20-yard line.  A couple plays later, Amaro got into the endzone on a one-yard sneak. The Demons now had a 19-6 advantage. Robertson would get another score on the board in the quarter.  Lucero converted a fourth-down play on an 8-yard pass to Antonio Padilla.  The touchdown cut into the lead making it 19-12 heading into the fourth and final quarter.  Dexter added a field goal to give them a 22-12 advantage.  The Dexter defense came up big in the final minutes. Lucero was picked off twice by the Demons in the final seven minutes.  Dexter held Robertson to under 120 yards of total offense on the day. The Demons won the championship by a 22-12 score, giving them their first state football title in 21 years. Dexter ended the season with an 11-2 record.  Robertson wrapped up the year at 11-3.  It was the fourth straight championship loss for the Cardinals.


Taos wins First State Football Title in School History

The Taos Tigers (12-1) captured its first state football championship in school history with a 14-7 win over the Bloomfield Bobcats (9-5) at the 2018 NMAA 4A State Football Championships. Special teams played a significant role in the games, as both of Taos’ scored came on special team plays.

“I’m very lucky to be the head coach of Taos,” head coach Art Abreu said. “Bloomfield did a great job shutting down our offense today but we won the special teams phase of the game and that turned out to be the key for us today. I’m very proud of our players and happy for them and this community.”

The Tigers scored first on the opening kickoff of the game, as Jonathan Garcia took the ball 80 yards down the field, giving Taos a quick 7-0 lead. Over the next two quarters, the defense for both teams held the opposing offense at bay and it looked as if Taos would hold a 7-0 lead going into halftime.

Then with just over two minutes to play in the second quarter, Bloomfield quarterback Rogelio Gonzales connected with wide receiver Noah Gurule on a 52-yard bomb for the Bobcats first score of the game, making it 7-7. The score remained the same going into the locker room for halftime.

In the third quarter, neither team could get anything going offensively.

With about two minutes to go in the third, Bloomfield was forced to punt from their own end zone. On the snap, the Tigers’ Aidan LeBlanc shot around the corner and block the punt and teammate Noah Armijo recovered the ball in the end zone to give Taos the lead back at 14-7.

The Bobcats had one last chance to tie the game with under two minutes to play in the game with a first and goal from the Taos 2-yard line. Four straight chances to the end zone by Bloomfield failed, as the Taos defense held of the attack.

In the end, Taos hoisted the blue trophy overhead, winning 14-7 over Bloomfield in the 2018 NMAA 4A State Football Championship game.

video courtesy ProView/NFHS



Roswell Back On Top Of The Football World

For the first time since 2000, Roswell High School ended the season with the blue trophy in their hands. The Coyotes beat Los Lunas 42-6 in the Class 5A Championship game.  Roswell controlled the game from the opening kick on their home field.  The Coyotes started the game with the ball and they marched downfield on their opening drive.  Senior Justin Carrasco went around the corner from 16-yards out to give Roswell a 6-0 lead with 7:33 to play in the first quarter.  The Coyotes held the Tigers to a three-and-out on their first possession.  The fireworks started to fly when Los Lunas punted the ball away.  Speedster Jasia Reese was back to return the punt, he picked up the ball and made a few Los Lunas players miss and headed for the left sideline.  Reese cut in and out of would-be tacklers and made his way 92 yards for the score. Roswell now had a 13-0 lead.

In the second quarter, things started to fall apart for Los Lunas. Roswell’s Ethan Valenzuela went 17 yards on a quarterback carry to give the Coyotes a 20-0 lead with 3:26 to go in the half.  On the next possession, Los Lunas was pinned up against their own endzone and forced to punt.  A bad snap forced the Tigers’ kicker to step out of the back of the endzone for the safety. Roswell was up 22-0 with 2:29 left in the quarter.  Los Lunas kicked the ball away to Roswell and the Coyotes were not done.  Carrasco would carry in another short score to make it 29-0 with :57 seconds to play.  Believe it or not, the scoring wasn’t done.  Los Lunas quarterback Kade Benavidez threw the ball right into the hands of Dominic Nava who returned it for the score to make it 36-0.  The pick-six was Nava’s third interception of the half.  Each team would add a score in the second half, but all of the damage was already done in the first two quarters.  Roswell won the championship by a score of 42-6.  It was the first state title for Roswell head coach Jeff Lynn.  The Coyotes wrapped up the year with an 11-2 record while Los Lunas ended the season at 9-3.


La Cueva Captured 6A Football Title for First time since 2004

For the first time since 2004, the La Cueva Bears (13-0) hoisted the blue trophy after defeating the Cleveland Storm (12-1), 33-14 at the 2018 NMAA 6A State Football Championships. This was the fourth state football title for the Bears and the third undefeated season for La Cueva.

“We talked about it all season long that we had unfinished business after losing the championship game last year,” head coach Brandon Back said. “I thought we had a great game plan today and we executed better and can out with the victory. I’m really proud of this team and the fight they had all season.”

La Cueva scored first on their opening drive on an 8-yard touchdown run by D’andre Williams. Following the extra point, the Bears led 7-0 with 8:25 left in the first quarter. On the Storm’s first possession, Cleveland fumbled the ball after a completed pass at midfield, as the Bears recovered with 8:01 left in the first.

Three minutes later, quarterback Dylan Summer hit Prince Robertson on a 22-yard touchdown pass, making it 14-0 with 5:32 to go in the first quarter. The Cleveland offense was forced to punt for fourth time in the game with 4:19 in first. As the first quarter ended, La Cueva held a 14-0 advantage.

The Bears added to their lead with 8:21 left in the second quarter on a 45-yard field by place kicker, Dominic Camacho, extended their lead to 17-0.

The Storm, however, refused to give up and finally got on the board with a 2-yard touchdown run by Marcos Chavez with 5:28 left in the half, making it 17-7 La Cueva. The Bears responded just a minute and a half later on a 50-yard touchdown pass from Summer to Connor O’Toole, extended their lead to 24- with just under four minutes to play in the second quarter.

Cleveland answered with just seconds on the clock in the first half but a holding penalty negated the touchdown as the half ended with La Cueva up 24-7.

Cleveland received the ball to start the third quarter but was forced to punt. La Cueva looked to be driving down the field to put the game out of reach but Cleveland’s Trey Ortega intercepted Summer and returned the ball 46 yards for the touchdown, pulling the Storm to within 10 at 24-14 with 7:09 left in the third.

On the Bears’ next possession, La Cueva drove the ball down deep into Cleveland territory and was forced to try a field goal to extend their lead but again the Storm came up big with a blocked field goal. The third quarter ended with La Cueva still leading 24-14.

La Cueva opened the fourth quarter with a 71-yard touchdown run by Williams to extend lead to 31-14 over Cleveland with 11:12 left in the game. The Bears added a safety with 8:03 left in the game, following a bad snap by Cleveland on a punt, making it 33-14.

Neither team scored the remainder of the game, as La Cueva captured the 2018 NMAA 6A State Football Championship title, 33-14 over Cleveland, completing an undefeated season at 13-0.

video courtesy ProView/NFHS

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