FARMINGTON — The Navajo Prep football team has cruised through the early part of its schedule, but the Eagles will receive their toughest test so far tonight.
Navajo Prep (3-0) will travel to play the 1A defending state champion Escalante (3-0) today in a rematch of a game the Eagles lost 61-12 last season.
Eagles head coach Rod Denetso said his team is ready for the Lobos this year, and he expects a much better performance.
"They're excited. They have a bitter taste in their mouths from last year," Denetso said of his players. "We have to go out and earn respect, and this week we'll see how good we are."
The Eagles enter the game ranked No. 13 by both MaxPreps.com and NMPreps.com, and they have slowly climbed up the rankings each week after outscoring their opponents 153-0 in the first three games this year.
Denetso isn't concerned about where the team stands right now and wants to see his players continue to improve throughout the year.
"I'm not really worried about the rankings," he said. "We're getting a little notoriety, and the boys are getting better. We're starting to bring in quality coaches, too, and that is helping the program."
Escalante, who is ranked No. 2 in 1A, enters the game 3-0 after surviving a 32-28 scare from Jal last week.
Denetso said defense will be the key if his team wants to upset the Lobos.
"They are coached well. They are disciplined and have attitude. You expect that from a champion," he said. "We have a way better defense this year. The coaches have put together a defensive plan. Last year, we were unprepared and missed a lot of tackles."
The Eagles know this game will go a long way in showing where they stack up with teams in 2A, and Denetso is ready to see how his team responds to adversity.
"It would be huge for us to play well. (Escalante) played a tough a schedule," he said. "We want respect, and we want to compete. I'm anxious to see how the kids respond when we get scored on. They haven't been hit in the mouth yet, and we need to show that we can answer after a team scores."
The Tigers picked up their first win of the season last week, and they look to improve to 2-2 tonight.
The Tigers (1-2) head to Gallup to face the Miyamura Patriots (0-3). Aztec enters the game ranked No. 6 in the MaxPreps.com poll, thanks to the strength of its schedule and the Patriots enter the game at No. 18. In the NMPreps.com poll, Aztec sits at No. 14, while Miyamura is ranked No. 20.
After falling to No. 1 Goddard and No. 2 Los Lunas to open the season, the Tigers answered with a big 56-7 win at Raton as junior quarterback Marcus Crawford found a rhythm in the game. Josh Harris established himself as a go-to wide receiver who can break a catch for a big play.
Star running back Ryneal Lewis-Adams tweaked an ankle in the win but will be ready.
The Tigers defense was flying to the ball at Raton, and the Aztec coaches hope to see more of the same as Aztec tries to shut down Miyamura quarterback Josiah Shank and running back Adner Palma.
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A sloppy game at Durango cost Piedra Vista its first loss of the season last week, and the Panthers aim to right the ship this week against Santa Fe.
Piedra Vista (2-1) has dominated Santa Fe (1-2) in recent years, winning 48-20 in 2012 and 66-26 in 2011.
Santa Fe's lone win this season came against Albuquerque High in a 51-34 game. The Demons took a loss to Deming in a 42-0 game and a 39-21 loss to Grants, which PV beat 47-21.
PV quarterback Isaiah Valdez was intercepted for touchdowns twice last week in Durango in a 35-3 loss, but the Panthers expect him to return to form back at home, where PV is 2-0 this year.
Three PV turnovers led to 21 Durango points, and the Panthers' coaches are still confident in their defense.
It is a big week for PV to gain confidence before facing No. 10 Moriarty in Week 5.
PV is ranked No. 9 by MaxPreps.com and No. 7 by NMPreps.com.
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Fresh off a bye week, the Kirtland Central Broncos will try to pick up a valuable home win with only two more games coming at home after tonight.
The Broncos (1-1) had a week off after suffering their first loss of the season in a 42-7 game against Durango, Colo. The Los Alamos Hilltoppers (1-2) are coming off a heartbreaking 10-8 loss at the hands of St. Pius X as the Sartans hit a game-winning field goal late in the fourth quarter.
It will be a good test for the teams to see where they stand as both are hoping to sneak into the 4A state playoffs. Kirtland enters the game at No. 17 in the MaxPreps.com poll and No. 19 on NMPreps.com. The Hilltoppers are No. 15 on MaxPreps.com and No. 16 on NMPreps.com.
Kirtland will try to run the ball with Keishaun Aspaas, Jacob Belin and Bryceson Arthur to try to open up play-action passes for quarterback Rashaan Sorrelhorse and big tight end Christian Mackey.
A year ago, Los Alamos beat Kirtland 34-0.
Shiprock's offense has woken up over the past two games, scoring a combined 90 points in a win over Zuni and taking a lose to Monument Valley, Ariz.
The Chieftains (1-2) found rhythm on that side of the ball thanks to the play at quarterback by Irwin Holiday and Ryan Nez.
Head coach Storm Tallbull likes the balance and different options the two quarterbacks provide to his offensive play calling.
Defensively, No. 15 Shiprock has been up and down.
The Chieftains have allowed 123 points in two losses this season, while shutting out Zuni in their lone win.
Shiprock will be looking for more consistency on that side of the ball as the season progresses.
The Chieftains travel to No. 12 Pojoaque Valley (1-2) which picked up its first win of the season with a 27-0 victory against Española Valley.
Prior to that, the Elks lost to Bloomfield and Los Alamos by a combined score of 110-35.