FARMINGTON – The Piedra Vista football team captured the District 1-5A title with a 45-3 win over Gallup (3-6, 1-2 District 1-5A) Friday night in Gallup.
“I think we started out a little slow,” PV head coach Jared Howell said. “There were a couple of series where we made some mistakes, but we got things going.”
Howell credited offensive coordinator Kevin Werth’s game plan that allowed the Panthers to establish the running game, which, in turn, allowed PV (8-2, 4-0) to control the game.
“We had a really good balance. Elijah Gamboa and Alex Shay ran the ball really well. Matt Gonzales had some big runs, and in the screen (passing) game, Christian Chavez and Casey Simmons were really good,” Howell said. “But all of that goes back to our offensive line. We can’t do any of the things we do without them. They’re the heart of our offense.”
Defensively, the Panthers had some issues containing Gallup’s quarterback.
“They have a quarterback that scrambles well and was really elusive,” Howell said. “They made some plays, but we were able to do what we needed to do to keep them out of the end zone.”
Helping hold the Bengals without a touchdown were junior Aaron Simpson and sophomore Talon Ball.
Simpson, PV’s middle linebacker, finished the night with two interceptions. Howell said both picks came when the Bengals tried to dump off short passes across the middle, and Simpson jumped the route to get the takeaways.
Ball, a defensive end, recovered a fumble for the Panthers.
PV will be off next week, and now waits to learn its seed in the 5A state tournament.
“The picture will be a bit clearer after this weekend as far as where teams will get seeded,” Howell said. “We’ll get an idea of who we could end up facing and start to prepare.”
Navajo Prep 47, Newcomb 6
Navajo Prep went into Newcomb Friday night and rolled to a 47-6 victory over the Skyhawks.
“The boys played really well tonight,” Prep head coach Storm Tallbull said. “They’ve really stepped up as far as getting better every week, and I’m really proud of how far they’ve come, especially considering all the adversity they’ve gone through this year.”
Offensively, the Eagles (4-4, 2-0 District 1-3A) found success in both the running and passing game to keep the Skyhawks (3-6, 0-2) off balance.
“We’ve gotten back to the passing game that we’ve been kind of known for the past few years, but we implemented both the run and the pass,” Tallbull said. “A lot of the things we keyed in on we were able to do.”
On the defensive side of the ball, Tallbull said the Eagles’ ability to hold Newcomb to 6 points was the result of being more fundamentally sound.
Tallbull also praised Ryan Tso and Anthony Pioche-Lee for their ability to break through the Newcomb offensive line and put pressure on the Skyhawks’ quarterback.
Along with his good play on the defensive line, Tallbull said Pioche-Lee controlled the offensive line to open up running lanes for Tso and provided good protection for quarterback Dakota Halliburton.
Tallbull said Tso’s running game, along with Halliburton and receiver Jake Rogers, were key to the team’s offensive success.
“Dakota really stepped up at the quarterback position, and Jake was a big impact play for us tonight on offense and defense,” Tallbull said.
After back-to-back games on the road, Prep returns home next week and can lock up the District 1-3A title with a win over Crownpoint (4-4, 1-0).
“Execution. That’s the biggest thing for this week,” Tallbull said. “Crownpoint is definitely a team that has had success, and we can’t overlook them.”
Bloomfield 2, Zuni 0
Bloomfield made the trip to Zuni to take on the Thunderbirds, but the teams never took the field.
Prior to kickoff, the field was deemed unplayable after heavy rain flooded the playing surface.
With the decision not to play the game, Zuni (3-6, 1-3 District 1-4A) was forced to forfeit, giving Bloomfield (8-1, 4-0) the 2-0 win.
Bloomfield will host Kirtland Central (5-4, 4-0) next week in the teams’ season finale.
With both Bloomfield and KC unbeaten in district play, the winner of the game will be crowned the district champion.
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.