Here are some key players to watch in this weekend's football quarterfinals games
Aztec’s Javier Valenzuela
The Tigers wide receiver demonstrated he can be a multi-dimensional threat and come up with the big plays.
In Aztec’s 56-13 win over Bernalillo to open the 4A playoffs, he had a 90-yard kick return touchdown and a key 19-yard touchdown reception, catching a deflected ball with teammate Mikey Phillips dealing with tight man coverage on the right side.
Aztec would be wise to lean on Valenzuela again in such situations traveling to Lovington on Saturday, especially if the Tigers have a rough opening drive like they did against Bernalillo.
Those plays can not only restore Aztec’s optimism to turn things around fast, but the Tigers will need someone who can keep doing that on the bigger stage.
Valenzuela proved he can be that spark on the bigger stage.
Valenzuela must be ready to quickly locate the open crease downfield and break free. Valenzuela must also be ready to stay near intended receiving targets so that Aztec will have an extra option when lanes start clogging up.
Bloomfield’s Raymundo Alcantar
The Bobcats free safety can help stack the box and force turnovers against the run. When the ball pops out in traffic, Alcantar has the presence of mind to grab it and take off running like he did against Aztec in the regular season finale.
He’s also fast enough to drop back into coverage and deflect the ball against intermediate throws, which Ruidoso quarterback Gage Guardiola seems to throw plenty of.
Guardiola averaged 15.4 yards per completion during the regular season.
Ruidoso’s offense was fairly balanced in the regular season, tallying 249 team rushes to go with Guardiola’s 299 pass attempts.
Alcantar is built to take on foes like Ruidoso, which comes to BHS on Saturday.
Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 and on Twitter at @MattH_717.