Piedra Vista runs through Aztec in 42-7 victory

Karl Schneider
  • PV senior Avery Norton ran for four touchdowns.
  • Penalties proved to be drive killers for the Tigers.
  • PV will host West Mesa next week for the Panthers' homecoming game.

FARMINGTON — Piedra Vista was the dominant football team in every aspect of the game, running over Aztec 42-7 tonight at Hutchison Stadium.

Aztec's Cody Smith throws a pass against Piedra Vista on Sept. 16 at Hutchison Stadium.

PV senior running back Avery Norton dominated the Panther running game for the second week in a row, scoring four touchdowns in the first three quarters.

PV coach Jared Howell said Norton has found a rhythm to his running. That, coupled with opposing defenses keying on other players, has helped Norton generate some impressive performances, Howell said.

“We’ve got several weapons and when you hone in on one, the other guys shine. It’s kind of a tough task defensively to try to control all of them. We’ve got Avery, Elijah (Gamboa), (Brandon Montoya) and even more guys,” Howell said. “Avery is really finding his rhythm and you could see that he was feeling the game with his cuts.”

While the Panthers dominated the bulk of the game, the first couple of possessions were all Aztec.

After holding PV (4-0) to no yards on its opening possession, Aztec (1-3) took over at its own 35 and picked its way down the field. Following a great catch and run by Sebastian McNeal for 26 yards to put the Tigers at the 8-yard line, quarterback Cody Smith kept the ball on a designed run and scampered into the end zone.

“We had a game plan to limit their run because their running game is so explosive. Offensively, we wanted to be a little more conservative, not taking as many deep shots so we could avoid those three and outs,” Aztec coach Matthew Steinfeldt said. “I thought we did a great job starting the game with the few series.”

PV answered Aztec’s early score when quarterback Elijah Gamboa ran 21 yards for a TD.

After the first quarter ended with the game tied at 7, PV drove 80 yards, all on the ground, and found the end zone when Norton broke a tackle in the backfield and ran to the right pylon for an 8-yard score with 10:15 left before halftime.

Piedra Vista's Avery Norton runs the ball against Aztec on Sept. 16 at Hutchison Stadium in Farmington.

PV kept rolling in the second quarter, scoring a pair of quick touchdowns — both from Norton on runs of 9 and 7 yards — to send the game to halftime with a 28-7 lead.

Norton and the PV offense kept rolling in the second half. After stopping Aztec on the opening drive of the third quarter, Norton broke a 60-yard run down the left sideline for his fourth touchdown of the game.

Aztec then put together its best drive since its opening possession, setting up a first-and-goal situation at the 5-yard line. But penalties pushed the Tigers back and kept them from crossing the goal line.

“That’s a discipline issue. That’s the coaching staff not doing a good enough job making sure our guys are locked in from play to play,” Steinfeldt said of Aztec’s penalties. “We have to do a better job of teaching and getting the guys into a better routine. Inconsistencies are what’s killing our team at this point. We’ve done some great things, but we don’t put those great things together back to back, and that results in what happened tonight.”

Aztec's Sebastian McNeal catches a pass against Piedra Vista on Sept. 16 at Hutchison Stadium in Farmington.

PV took over at its own 6-yard line and drove 94 yards, capping the drive when Hunter Roquemore, who came in for Gamboa to start the drive, hit Christian Chavez for a 20-yard score to push the Panther lead to 42-7.

Aztec will host Cobre (1-3) at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 24.

PV will be back at home Friday for the third week in a row, hosting West Mesa (1-3) for the Panthers’ homecoming.

“Coaches hate homecoming because of all the distractions, but it’s a necessary part of high school football, and it’s good for the kids and the community,” Howell said. “But I don’t think they’ll have any problems getting ready to play the game. We have West Mesa, and that’s our first 6A opponent of the year, and we’re excited about it.”

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