Much on the line for New Mexico high school football teams in the final week of regular season games
BLOOMFIELD — There are several important storylines which will play themselves out Friday night across the county in three key high school football games.
At Bobcat Stadium, the Kirtland Central Broncos will take on Bloomfield to battle for district supremacy in Class 4A.
At Hutchison Stadium in Farmington, the Scorpions and Panthers will play for the 22nd time in their rivalry, with a district title on the line in Class 5A.
And the Navajo Prep Eagles, visiting Newcomb, will look to finish their district campaign with an unbeaten mark and put themselves in a prominent position in the Class 3A playoffs.
The Daily Times will cover the Kirtland vs. Bloomfield contest live Friday starting at 6:30 p.m. in our Game of the Week live blog on www.daily-times.com.
Here's a look at the top high school football games coming up this weekend.
Farmington (9-0) vs. Piedra Vista (6-3), Friday, 7 p.m.
Both teams may share Hutchison Stadium, but in the 22nd renewal of this crosstown rivalry, there will be plenty of reminders of which team has recently dominated the territory.
The 9-0 (3-0 District 1/2-5A) Scorpions are seeking to cap off the perfect regular season and earn themselves a top seed in the Class 5A football playoffs.
The Panthers (6-3, 3-0), coming off a bye week after dismantling Los Alamos 47-0 earlier this month and who haven't lost a game since district play started four weeks ago, are hoping to do more than stand in the Scorpions way.
"The kids are into the rivalry of playing them," said Panthers coach Jared Howell. "We've had a little extra time to prepare and give them a challenge and make a run at the playoffs."
Howell knows this will be no small task, seeing as how Farmington hasn't given up a point in four consecutive games and have outscored their opposition by an average margin of 50-4 in their nine games this season.
The Scorpions offense will be centered around the arm of quarterback Brandon Furbee, who has thrown 14 touchdowns and only two interceptions this season. His primary targets down the field have been receiver Patrick Shay (569 yards, nine touchdowns) and Ethan Thomas (431 yards, three touchdowns).
Furbee has also been dangerous outside the pocket, where he has scored nine touchdowns on the ground as part of a rushing attack that has 29 touchdowns this season.
Piedra Vista will look to counter the Scorpions fast-paced offense with a more controlled pace of play, relying on bruising running back Jacob Ramsted, who has scored seven touchdowns in the last two games.
Defensively, the Panthers have allowed only 15 points to be scored against them in three district games, and will be hoping to limit Farmington's scoring opportunities Friday night.
As for the rivalry, Piedra Vista leads the series in wins 11-10, with Farmington having won the most recent game between the two teams 55-0 earlier this year during the abbreviated spring season. The Scorpions have won the rivalry match each of the last three years.
Head coach Jeff Dalton, who played for Farmington in the first matchup between these teams in 2000, downplayed the significance of the rivalry, suggesting the teams on the field still have a game to play regardless of opponent or story behind the game.
"Rivalries are for fans," Dalton said earlier this week. "Aside from us wearing a different color and standing on a different sideline, that doesn't change what plays we're going to run or how disciplined they (Piedra Vista) are."
Dalton is hoping to achieve a milestone as well in this matchup, as Farmington would equal a school record 15 straight wins with a victory against the Panthers. The old record of 15 wins in a row dates back to 1953.
"Again, those milestones are only important if we follow what we've been doing all season long," Dalton said. "If we can't focus on one play at a time, then you don't get to those places."
Kirtland Central (5-4) at Bloomfield (8-1), Friday, 7 p.m.
The Bloomfield Bobcats and Kirtland Central Broncos will collide at Bobcat Stadium with a district title on the line and a chance to make a deep run in the Class 4A state football playoffs.
The Bobcats (8-1, 3-0 District 1-4A), who have won their district title each of the past two seasons and have come up short in winning a state title in the past three seasons, will call upon quarterback Ryan Sharpe and his arsenal of weapons to keep the Broncos defense on their heels.
Marc Armenta, Drew Perez and Matthias DeHerrera have been the primary targets much of the season for Sharpe. The Bobcats passing game has accounted for more than 1,200 yards and 17 touchdowns this season.
Kirtland Central (5-4, 3-0) will lean heavily once again on the talents of running back Zakk Thomas, who leads the team in almost every statistical category and was instrumental in last week's dramatic 20-14 win over Aztec, scoring the winning touchdown on their first possession in overtime.
Navajo Prep (4-5) at Newcomb (2-7), Friday, 7 p.m.
Navajo Prep can wrap up the District 1-3A title with a win on the road Friday night over Newcomb, which would be a positive way to end a rather tumultuous week for the Eagles.
On Monday, the Eagles announced the team was forfeiting three wins from their non-district schedule when they self-reported an academically ineligible player had participated in those games.
Head coach Roderick Denetso will have the Eagles prepared to move on from the recent headlines and focus instead on one of their primary goals this season.
"We've put new protocols and procedures in place to make sure we're all better accountable," Denetso said. "The kids are anxious to get back to playing and having fun."
The Skyhawks (2-7, 0-2) will lean heavily on Perry Ellerbe, who has been utilized in a number of ways in the team's offense.
As a quarterback, Ellerbe has thrown for nearly 300 yards and passed for four touchdowns. He's also accounted for more than 320 yards and five rushing touchdowns while also making 17 catches for 219 yards and a pair of scores as a receiver when working in tandem with backup quarterback Matthew Barber.
"He's a real good athlete," Denetso said of Ellerbe. "He's definitely been the focus of our attention at practice all week."
The Eagles running game, which has recorded nearly 2,200 yards this season and 43 touchdowns, will be the main focus yet again for Navajo Prep.
Quarterback Dontrelle Denetso, who has been a threat both on the ground and through the air, has thrown for nearly 1000 yards this season and rushed for 19 touchdowns.
The backfield duo of Kyler Clitso and Kyun Tate have accounted for more than 1300 yards on the ground and 21 touchdowns.
Shiprock (0-8) at Gallup (0-9), Friday, 7 p.m.
The Gallup Bengals and Shiprock Chieftains will face off Friday night with one team coming away from the game with their first and only win this season.
The Chieftains have scored six points this season, and have been outscored in their three earlier district games by a margin of 159-6, while the Bengals have scored a total of 22 points this season and have been outscored in the district by a margin of 160-8.
Gallup is in the midst of a 21-game losing streak which dates back to Sept. 20, 2019, while the Chieftains haven't had a winless season in more than 15 years.
Steve Bortstein can be reached via email at SBortstein@Gannett.com, via Twitter @DTSBortstein or on the phone at (505) 635-2680.