AZTEC — There was no stopping Aztec’s potent offense, which battered Bernalillo en route to a 56-13 win in today’s 4A state football playoff opener at Fred Cook Memorial Stadium in Aztec.
Javier Valenzuela got things rolling with a 90-yard kick return touchdown, and then he delivered again by catching a 19-yard touchdown reception. The ball was intended for Mikey Phillips in tight man coverage on the right side, was deflected and fell into Valenzuela’s hands.
“We’re easily influenced by big plays and just good morale, and then we just carry that motivation on the rest of the game,” Valenzuela said. “Oh man, it feels great to get our confidence up and remind ourselves that… we worked hard for this.”
The Tigers quickly seized control as the first half progressed.
Valenzuela and Mason Rios tacked on touchdown catches, while Alex Parra punched in two rushing touchdowns.
“In the second quarter, we just kind of found our groove a little bit better,” Valenzuela said.
And to boot, Tristen McNeal jumped up for an interception and took it the house for a 43-yard pick-six.
Rios tacked on the final score on a 60-yard touchdown reception bolting down the left side.
“It was amazing, just catching it and being able to run it back to the end zone,” Rios said.
Sixth-seeded Aztec (8-3) will play at No. 3 Lovington in next weekend’s 4A state quarterfinals.
Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 and on Twitter at @MattH_717.