FARMINGTON — Homecoming season has arrived in the high school football world and in San Juan County.
Tonight, Shiprock (1-3) visits Eagle Stadium, where Navajo Prep (1-2) awaits the Chieftains in its homecoming game for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
Last season, the two teams had a unique encounter.
Navajo Prep defeated Shiprock last season on the road by a score of 34-20. However, the New Mexico Activities Association determined that the Eagles played the game with an academically ineligible player. The NMAA stripped Navajo Prep of the win and awarded it to the Chieftains by forfeit.
The reversed decision puts the series record at two wins apiece since 2005.
Both teams are coming off lopsided wins last week — the first wins of their respective seasons — and are riding into tonight's game with a lot of confidence.
"We're definitely fired up, especially with what should be a big homecoming crowd," Navajo Prep coach Storm Tallbull said. "Shiprock is not going to be a pushover. They have a really good coach, and we have to be ready. It's definitely a rivalry game."
The Eagles beat Zuni 46-0 on the road last week, and Tallbull said that in order to make it two wins in a row, his team has to play a fundamentally sound game.
"It's all about ball control and not making mistakes for us," Tallbull said. "We have to make tackles, make blocks and pick up momentum by holding on to the ball. We want to keep drives going and shorten (Shiprock's)."
The Chieftains are coming off a 61-46 shootout win against Questa. Coach Eric Stovall said it's important that his team not suffer a letdown after breaking into the win column last week.
"We're really feeling good about where we're at right now, but I told the guys you can't beat Questa like that and come out and lose the next one," Stovall said. "But we've corrected some things on offense and on defense, and we feel really good about our chances."
The Shiprock defense has been steadily improving since the beginning of the season. Though the defensive unit did allow a whopping 46 points last week, only 16 of those came after halftime. Stovall said he expects his defense to take a couple of more steps forward against the Eagles.
"We've really made some adjustments, really worked hard on wrapping guys up and finishing tackles," he said. "I'm excited to see how our guys come out and perform, because they're excited to pick up where they left off after the second half last week."
In 2013, the year before the Shiprock forfeit win, the Eagles bested the Chieftains 34-18 on the road.
Kirtland Central at Piedra Vista
After back-to-back road games, Piedra Vista will be back under the lights at Hutchison Stadium to host Kirtland Central for the Panthers' homecoming game tonight.
And with homecoming comes distractions for the Panthers and extra motivation for the Broncos, which neither team needs.
The two former district foes are both entering tonight's matchup after picking up wins last week.
PV (3-1) is coming off a 33-13 win at Moriarty, while Kirtland Central (1-3) topped Los Alamos 33-24 in Kirtland.
Last week, PV had strong rushing performances from Elijah Gamboa, Alex Shay and Scott Ramirez to set up Ryan Montoya and the passing game.
In their win over the Hilltoppers, KC dominated with its rushing attack. Four of the team's five scores came on the ground, and Aiden Cockrell and Keishaun Aspaas each rushed for more than 100 yards.
Farmington at Los Alamos
Farmington is looking to bounce back after suffering a 39-6 loss last week to Durango, Colo.
The Scorps (3-1) hit the road today, travelling to Los Alamos to take on the struggling Hilltoppers (1-3).
In last week's loss, turnovers plagued Farmington as the Scorps threw four interceptions, lost three fumbles and turned the ball over on downs twice.
Last week, the Hilltoppers fell 33-24 in a game at Kirtland Central.
Against the host Broncos, the Hilltoppers were gutted on the ground, giving up two 100-yard rushers and four rushing touchdowns.
It was the third straight loss for Los Alamos, which picked up a 19-13 win over 4A Pojoaque Valley during opening week. The Hilltoppers have allowed 30-plus points in each game of the losing streak. In those three games, the Hilltoppers have been outscored 117-36.
The Scorps blew out Los Alamos 53-0 a year ago in Farmington.
Hope Christian at Bloomfield
Last Friday night was an uninspiring one for the Bloomfield football team.
Though they picked up the 24-19 road win over Taos to improve to 4-0, the Bobcats let the hosts hang around for far too long, according to coach Bob Allcorn. Taos even scored back-to-back second-half touchdowns to put Bloomfield's unblemished record in danger.
Allcorn said he knows Bloomfield will have to put a much better week of practice together in order to best Hope Christian (3-1) tonight.
Returning home could help the Bobcats put last week's inconsistencies behind them. They haven't lost a regular-season game at Bobcat Stadium since Aug. 29 of last year against Aztec.
The ground game has been exceptional for Bloomfield through the first four weeks of the season. The team has rushed for 1,250 yards.
Senior JD Robinson has led the way with 439 of those yards and four touchdowns.
The Bobcats beat Hope Christian 33-17 last season.
Aztec at Cobre
Aztec will be playing an afternoon game for the second week in a row.
The Tigers (1-3) hit the road on Saturday, traveling to Bayard to take on Cobre (2-2).
Last week, Aztec fell 26-9 to Del Norte in Albuquerque, and saw three offensive starters leave the game with injuries. The three injuries made it eight offensive starters to go down to injuries since the start of the season.
Cobre rolled past Tularosa 44-6 a week ago.
Cobre has been well balanced in its four games this season. The Indians are averaging 201 passing yards and 214 rushing yards per game.
Cobre's running attack is paced by the one-two punch of Robert Rodriguez and Andru Sanchez. So far this season, Rodriguez is averaging 8.3 yards per carry while Sanchez has found the end zone six times.
Rodriguez has also been Cobre's biggest threat in the passing game, pulling in 15 receptions for 272 yards and six scores.