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Here are San Juan County football players to watch in this weekend's playoff openers

Matt Hollinshead, mhollinshead@daily-times.com

Piedra Vista running back Jarrod Mitchell

The last time he faced Highland’s defensive front down in Albuquerque, Mitchell gutted the Hornets for some big runs in the first half.

Such moments included a 30-yard touchdown run busting through the middle, and he also broke free for a 51-yard run to set up a quick red zone score.

PV will face Highland again in Friday’s 5A playoff opener at Hutchison Stadium.

If Mitchell again generates some big runs against the Hornets, that’ll be a big load off the backs of the rest of the offense.

Kirtland Central defensive endIan Thomas

In recent weeks, Thomas has been a disruptive force in getting opposing quarterbacks to maneuver their way outside the pocket and dragging them down.

When foes are pinned well within their own territory, similar to a sack Thomas had against Aztec when the Tigers were barely in front of their own goal line, that’s when Thomas can be dangerous. 

Thomas kept his feet moving and easily tracked down Aztec quarterback Marcquis Henry, who didn’t have any open targets and was trying to roll right.

Thomas has 13.5 sacks this season, including five during District 1-4A action. He’s now creating havoc on a frequent basis when it matters most: entering the playoffs.

Piedra Vista's Jarrod Mitchell, seen here running for a 51-yard gain against Highland during a District 1-5A football game on Friday, Oct. 25 at Milne Stadium in Albuquerque, will again face the Hornets to open the 5A state playoffs.

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