Adam Lucero added another 300-yard passing game to his illustrious high school career in a big win for Aztec.
The No. 6 Tigers (2-3) had few problems disposing of Del Norte (2-4), beating the Knights 57-17.
Lucero was 19-31 passing for 305 yards, four touchdowns and an interception.
“He played another great game. We were certainly able to move the ball efficiently and finished on the majority of our drives,” said Aztec head coach Matt Steinfeldt.
Lucero was more happy to see the Tigers’ running game get going Friday night at Fred Cook Memorial Stadium.
Running back Ryneal Lewis-Adams had a big night, rushing for 92 yards on just four carries. He scored a rushing touchdown and caught four passes for 44 yards and another touchdown.
“Ryneal deserved that. He is a really good back,” Lucero said. “Coach told us before the game that he wanted everyone to score tonight, and we spread it out well.”
“Ryneal is making big contributions. We know if we get the ball in his hands he has the ability to take any run for a touchdown,” Steinfeldt said.
Brad Hardin had another monstrous night, catching five passes for 95 yards and a touchdown. The senior leader also ran the ball five times for 45 yards and two rushing scores while also playing the majority of snaps on defense.
Braden Goimarac had a touchdown catch to go with his 80 yards of receiving on four catches.
Cody Rinerson had three catches for 30 yards and a touchdown. He also scored on a long fumble recover, one of Aztec’s five forced turnovers in the game.
“I love having the depth that we do on offense. When Hardin needs a breather, Goimarac and Rinerson are there. Defenses can’t key in on anybody because somebody else will step up,” Lucero said. “Having the defense come up with that many turnovers was huge because I tell those guys it is their job to get the ball in our hands and our job to score. We both did a great job of doing our jobs tonight.”
Lucero credited defensive coordinator Mike Kovacs for a great game plan to takeaway the Del Norte running game.
Another bright spot for Aztec was new kicker Garrett Tucker, a sophomore captain on the Tigers’ soccer team who recently joined the team to start kicking.
On the first drive of the game, Tucker hit on a 30-plus-yard attempt to put Aztec up 3-0.
“He gives us another weapon,” Steinfeldt said. “Anytime you run a spread offense, the one knock against it is your team’s ability to convert in the red zone because the field collapses on you. Periodically we will struggle to punch the ball in, so having a guy who can give us three points instead of us walking away empty handed is huge.”
The offensive line was also much improved as Lucero was sacked just one time. Lucero called the sack his mistake for not stepping up in the pocket.
“The line is doing great. Obviously Joey Dotson is heading everything there, but we have guys like Conner Gaskins and Riley Quigley who volunteered to play some line. Quigley is about 180 pounds and has stepped in and become one of our better lineman. I love that we have younger guys like that stepping up,” Lucero said.
Steinfeldt said the Tigers played their most consistent game of the season in all facets, and hopes to carry that momentum into next week’s home game against what should be a fired up No. 7 St. Pius X team which lost to No. 12 Farmington 21-13 on Friday night.
“St. Pius X is a great football team and it will be a big test for us to see where we are as a team and to see how we are continually growing as a team,” Steinfeldt said. “We are still growing and we haven’t reached our full potential yet.”
Lucero still believes that potential can lead to a state championship.
“I still firmly believe we are the best team in the state,” Lucero said. “The goal hasn’t changed. We are going out there to try to win state. Going into the playoffs we want to be 6-3, and I know we can do it.”