Crosstown rivals square off with district title on line

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FARMINGTON — The Piedra Vista football team has come through during the deciding moments against crosstown rival Farmington over the last four years, leaving Hutchison Stadium victorious each time.

And now the Panthers look to extend their win streak to five games over the Scorpions when the two sides do battle again, this time for the District 1-5A title on Friday night.

“It’s nice to be on top,” PV wide receiver Craig Emrich said of the recent success against FHS. “This year it’s bigger because of district. It kind of has a little bit more at stake. At the start of our season, our goal was to win district. So, that is that time.”

There is more than just the district title on the line Friday night.

The Panthers (6-3, 2-0) already have key nondistrict wins over St. Pius, Valley and Belen. Winning district could bolster their chances of earning a possible first-round bye in the playoffs.

The Scorpions (5-4, 2-0) have won three straight games. Winning district would not only secure them a playoff spot, but also help them build a case to host a first-round playoff game.

"They've got some athletes on the field that can do damage. You really want to try to make sure you don't let those people get out of control, and you try to limit their successes," PV coach Jared Howell said of Farmington.

Howell said his squad has had the upper hand over Farmington since 2014 because it has come through with key plays when it matters or had lucky breaks go its way.

Such plays include a sack on fourth-and-goal with a little more than five minutes left in 2014, along with 31- and 29-yard rushing touchdowns in 2015.

More: Panthers edge Farmington to open season

Other moments include a 37-yard touchdown reception by Farmington being ruled an incomplete pass due to the receiver stepping out bounds before the catch, as well as a Panthers goal-line interception on fourth-and-6 in 2017.

"Having a turnover at the wrong time is the hardest thing for a high school football team to overcome. Piedra Vista's forced some costly turnovers when we felt like had things rolling," Farmington coach Jeff Dalton said. "We have to know when we can take risks."

Dalton also said PV's defensive front has given FHS trouble in recent years by sending three linemen to attack the pocket.

"They controlled the line of scrimmage. That's where they've really had our number," Dalton said. "They're still loaded up front. We have to find ways to nullify that. The most important thing for us is that we play clean and play within ourselves."

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.

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