First-round byes at stake for multiple San Juan County football teams

Matt Hollinshead,

FARMINGTON — There’s more than just district titles and first-round home playoff games to envision here in San Juan County’s football scene. It’s a real possibility that multiple teams can secure first-round byes.

Here’s a rundown of district races that could have such an impact.

District 1-4A

Bloomfield’s certainly the front runner going in, but Aztec could dash the Bobcats’ hopes of potentially securing the No. 1 overall seed in the 4A playoffs.

The Bobcats, who are averaging 50.4 points scored and 13.9 points allowed per game, are the most well-rounded squad, now that the offense is doing more than enough to make life easier for Bloomfield’s dominant defense.

Farmington and Aztec, seen here playing each other on Friday, Sept. 13 at Fred Cook Memorial Stadium in Aztec, both eye not only district titles in 2019, but also first-round byes in the playoffs.

However, the offense-friendly Tigers are hands down the most improved team on defense this season. Aztec’s given up seven or fewer points just four times, including back-to-back shutouts.

They’re constantly swarming around the pocket and neutralizing the run.

At minimum, a first-round bye hangs in the balance for both Bloomfield (7-0) and Aztec (6-1). 

How the matchup unfolds may also dictate whether Bloomfield stays undefeated and gets the top seed.

The two sides will do battle at 7 p.m. Nov. 1 at Fred Cook Memorial Stadium in Aztec.

And as much as Kirtland Central can start fresh and poach the district title away from both Aztec and Bloomfield, the Broncos’ rough start to 2019 may be a roadblock toward a first-round bye themselves.

District 1-5A

It could boil down to crosstown rivals Piedra Vista (5-2) and Farmington (6-1) again when they do battle on Nov. 1 at Hutchison Stadium.

The Panthers eye back-to-back district titles, as well as their sixth straight win over the Scorpions.

Piedra Vista's Cameron Swarts runs down the middle for a first down against Roswell's Nathaniel Sanchez during Friday's football game at Hutchison Stadium in Farmington.

But in order to get a possible first-round bye in the 5A playoffs, PV must win out in district and will also need help from Goddard and Artesia after losing 35-0 to Roswell. Roswell (7-0), Goddard (6-1) and Artesia (5-2) will contend for the District 4-5A title.

If Farmington, which is averaging 44.3 points a game, wins out for its second district title in three years, the Scorpions will be in a strong position for a first-round bye.

Highland (5-2) has yet to be tested because it’s only beaten sub-.500 teams so far. However, a win over FHS or PV would show New Mexico that the Hornets are no pretenders.

District 2/5-4A

This is the group to keep tabs on because it can impact where, and how high, Aztec and Kirtland will be seeded in the playoffs.

It’s currently a wide-open field. 

St. Pius (3-4) and Grants (6-1) won their first two district games, while Taos (3-4) and Bernalillo (5-2) are 1-1 in district.

However, that parity could vanish quickly. Taos and Grants both have the luxury of playing two of their final three district games at home.

Española Valley (1-6, 0-2) and Pojoaque Valley (2-4, 0-1) would need to go on a serious tear the rest of the way to have even the slightest chance for playoff berths.

Aztec already has wins over Taos and St. Pius. So, each loss those two foes endure from now on will put AHS another step closer to solidifying at least a first-round home playoff game (if not a first-round bye, depending on the District 1-4A title race).

If Grants struggles down the stretch, it’ll benefit Kirtland because the Broncos took the head-to-head matchup 42-34.

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 and on Twitter at @MattH_717.