Aztec hosts Valley for the Tigers' homecoming

For their homecoming, Farmington High will host Grants

Karl Schneider
Aztec's Cody Smith looks to pass during a game against Kirtland Central on Sept. 11 at Fred Cook Memorial Stadium in Aztec.

FARMINGTON — Homecoming will be a welcomed week at Aztec.

The Tigers will be back at Fred Cook Memorial Stadium Friday for just their second home game of the season when they host 6A Valley.

Aztec spent four of its first five games on the road, dropping each of those away games and being outscored 189-77.

Tigers head coach Matt Steinfeldt said getting a victory Friday night would go a long way toward building the team’s confidence when Aztec begins district play next week.

“Given some of our shortfalls this season, we know that district is what really matters, and we’re trying to build some momentum going into district next week,” Steinfeldt said.

Valley (1-4) dropped its first four games, but picked up its first win last week when the Vikings edged La Cueva 18-15.

“The same way we try not to look at our record for validation, we don’t let our kids look at other teams’ records to judge them,” Steinfeldt said. “We know Valley is a quality opponent.”

The Vikings, ranked No. 15 in 6A, have faced a tough schedule to start the season. They’ve been matched against No. 2 Eldorado, No. 8 Rio Rancho, No. 10 Sandia and No. 11 Cibola.

Steinfeldt believes the key to leaving the field Friday night with a victory will be controlling the offensive and defensive lines.

When the two teams met last year in Albuquerque, the Vikings used their running attack to control the game and came away with a 40-25 win.

Steinfeldt said the strength of Valley’s defense is in the trenches. The Tigers will have to keep the Vikings from getting into the backfield and disrupting the offense if they hope to move the ball and find the end zone.

“It starts in the trenches — (we) have to identify where they’re best guys are and control the line,” Steinfeldt said. “If we can do that, we feel like our skill kids match up pretty well against them.”

Grants at Farmington

Farmington enters Friday's homecoming game against Grants with a lot of momentum after blowing out Los Alamos 65-26 on the road last week.

Grants (4-1) enters the contest ranked No. 10 in the state, just two spots back of the Scorps. However, Grants’ schedule through the first five weeks of the season ranks as the second easiest in 5A.

Grants beat Bernalillo 53-7 last week.

Grants’ four wins have come against opponents with a combined record of 6-14, and its only win over a team with a winning record was when the Pirates beat 4A Hope Christian 33-14.

Over the past couple of weeks, Farmington has gotten a boost in its running game from Alex Fowler. The emergence of the sophomore running back has forced opposing defenses to respect Farmington’s ground attack and opened more passing lanes for quarterback Kody Becenti.

Newcomb at Shiprock

With last week’s 20-16 win over Navajo Prep, Shiprock earned back-to-back wins for the first time since the 2013 season. On Friday, the Chieftains have a chance to make it three in a row when Newcomb walks into Chieftain Stadium.

The last time Shiprock (2-2) recorded three straight wins was in 2011, when the Chieftains strung together five in a row.

Going into last week’s game at Navajo Prep, Shiprock’s defense allowed opponents to score 60-plus points in two of its three games. But against Prep, the Chieftains defense was the difference, stopping the Eagles on fourth down twice in the fourth quarter.

Newcomb (1-4) enters Friday's contest with a four-game losing streak, most recently falling to Utah’s Monument Valley 37-16 last week.

During the losing streak, the Skyhawks were shut out twice and have been outscored 167-30.

The two teams met last year with the Skyhawks edging the Chieftains 6-0 in Newcomb.

Thoreau at Navajo Prep

After dropping last week’s homecoming game 20-16 to Shiprock, Navajo Prep will be looking to get back in the win column when the Eagles host Thoreau Friday at the Eagles Nest.

The Bears (3-1) knocked off Santa Fe Indian School 34-19 last week during Thoreau’s homecoming game.

In each of Thoreau’s three wins, the Hawks have scored 30 or more points while limiting opposing offenses to an average of 16 points. Thoreau’s lone poor performance of the season came two weeks ago when Hot Springs, ranked No. 9 in 4A, shut out the Hawks 52-0.

Last week, the Eagles (1-3) watched as junior wide receiver Jonathon Slim was taken off the field in an ambulance in the third quarter. Slim was released from the hospital during the weekend.

The last time Prep and Thoreau met was on opening night of the 2013 season, when the Eagles shut out the Hawks 50-0 in Farmington.

Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.