FARMINGTON — Throw out everything that happened in the first part of the season, because it doesn’t matter anymore.
The Aztec football team entered its district schedule with the mentality of district play being a new season, and the Tigers are undefeated after upsetting rival Farmington 29-26 Friday night at Fred Cook Memorial Stadium in Aztec.
“We’ve really preached that district is new life and a new season,” Aztec head coach Matt Steinfeldt said. “I’m extremely proud of the way the boys have responded.”
Down 29-26 in the final five minutes of the game, the Tigers (3-5, 2-0 District 1-5A) went for it on fourth down at the Farmington 14-yard line. Quarterback Cody Smith’s back-shoulder throw at the goal line was swatted away by a Farmington defender to give possession back to the Scorps.
But Farmington (5-3, 0-2) couldn’t maintain possession.
Aztec’s Chase Morrison hit FHS quarterback Kody Becenti and knocked the ball loose, and Jevin Jensen recovered at the 21-yard line to give the Tigers another chance.
The Tigers got to the 6-yard line to set up first and goal, and after three straight runs, Smith punched it in to give the Tigers the lead with 1:17 remaining.
Aztec elected to go for the two-point conversion to make it a three-point game and converted.
The Scorps had one last chance to drive down the field for the win or send the game to overtime. But senior captain Dylan Sutherland made sure Farmington didn’t have a chance to get into field goal range, sacking Becenti on back-to-back plays to help secure the win.
“Dylan did a great job. We’ve been battling to get him healthy for a while now. He missed three or four games, and we’ve been easing him back into our last couple games, only playing him on offense. He finally had a great week of practice, and he did wonders tonight.”
The win over Farmington makes it two straight victories for the Tigers, who struggled through their nondistrict schedule with just one win.
“We had a bad stretch there, not winning some football games at the start of the season, Steinfeldt said. "We had an extremely tough schedule. Even though we were playing some teams without the name recognition that people look for, those games against Bloomfield and Cobre and everyone else, those are quality opponents, and I think those games really helped us get ready for our district schedule.”
Aztec will host the only other unbeaten team in District 1-5A, Piedra Vista (6-2, 2-0), next week.
Farmington will host Miyamura (3-4, 0-1) next week.
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.