FOOTBALL

New Mexico high school football playoffs will feature six San Juan County teams

Steven Bortstein
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — High School football fans from across the county will have a chance to cheer on as many as six different teams over the course of the next several weeks with the start of the New Mexico Activities Association's state championship tournament, which is already underway.

Six-man and eight-man football playoffs opened this past weekend, while Class 2A through 6A pairings were announced late Saturday night by the NMAA with first round action set to begin Friday night across the state.

Here's a glance at the local and area teams headed to the postseason.

Farmington High School, Class 6A

The Scorpions' regular season ended on the road last weekend losing to La Cueva 62-19, finishing with an overall record of 5-5. The 3-1 mark in District 2-5/6A play was good for second place in the district behind the Bears.

Seeded seventh in the Class 6A tournament, Farmington will open the playoffs on Saturday at noon at Hutchison Stadium to face 10th-seeded Carlsbad. The winner of that matchup will then face off against La Cueva in the quarterfinals.

"We're excited to give our hometown fans a playoff game here. Our players have fought hard to get to this point," said Scorpions head coach Jeff Dalton. "This entire season has felt like the playoffs, so I think we're more battle-tested to this point."

Farmington's Josiyah Archuleta turns the corner after making a catch and eludes West Mesa's Fabian Sandoval during their football game, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022 at Nusenda Community Stadium in Albuquerque.

The Cavemen, who finished their season with a record of 5-5, finished third in District 3-4/6A behind Centennial and Hobbs with a mark of 3-2. Both Centennial and Hobbs enter the Class 6A tournament with first-round byes and home games the following weekend in the quarterfinals.

Piedra Vista, Class 5A

Piedra Vista, which checked in as the third-ranked team in Class 5A, will open the postseason at Hutchison Stadium on the weekend of Nov. 11-12 in the quarterfinals when it hosts the winner of a first-round game between Mayfield and Santa Teresa. The 9-1 Panthers own the best record in the classification ahead of top-ranked Artesia and second-ranked Roswell, but their only loss this season came last month on the road at Roswell.

Piedra Vista has won eight of its last nine games at Hutchison Stadium over the course of the last two seasons, and figures to be well-rested and healthier coming off the bye week next weekend.

"We'll be getting back a couple key players from injuries, and I think we'll be ready to go," said Panthers head coach Jared Howell. "The goal is to stay focused and taking care of what we can control in the meantime."

Aztec, Class 4A

The Tigers finished the regular season on a positive note, winning at home over district rival Kirtland Central and securing an eight-seed in the Class 4A playoffs. Aztec will host a first-round match this weekend against Valencia with the winner of that game moving onto the second round to face top-ranked Silver.

Both Aztec and Valencia wrapped up the season with an overall record of 4-6 and 2-1 in their respective districts. The Tigers (District 1-4A) finished second behind Bloomfield in the district race while the Jaguars finished second behind Silver in District 3-5/4A.

Last year, Aztec lost 35-7 on the road in the first round of the Class 4A state tournament to Ruidoso, ending the season with a three-game losing streak.

"I was happy with the way we took care of business on the field," said Aztec head coach Hank Strauss. "We overcame a lot this season to get to this point, so now we can get ready for the next challenge."

Bloomfield, Class 4A

The Bobcats earned a two-seed in the Class 4A state football postseason, finishing with a record of 9-1 and a bye in the opening weekend of the tournament.

Bloomfield will host a quarterfinal game next weekend when they'll face the winner of a first-round game between 10th seeded Kirtland Central on the road against seventh-seeded Moriarty.

For the Bobcats, simply getting to the postseason in recent years has been good, but not good enough. Bloomfield was bounced from the Class 4A playoffs last season at home losing to Ruidoso. In 2019, as the top-seeded team in Class 4A, Bloomfield lost 47-27 to Portales in the state championship game.

"These kids have been so invested into getting better, and it shows in the way we've gotten to this point," said Bobcats head coach Mike Kovacs. "I see their hard work and the time we've put in to getting better and I know these seniors really want to end this season the right way."

Bloomfield's only loss this season came on the road earlier this month to top-seeded Silver, who the Bobcats could eventually meet again in the state championship.

Kirtland Central, Class 4A

The Broncos will go on the road Friday at 6 p.m. with an eye toward advancing to the second round of the Class 4A state tournament if they can get past Moriarty.

Kirtland Central ended the regular season with a record of 4-5 (1-2 District 1-4A) and a tough loss on the road to Aztec in the regular season finale. The Broncos enter the tournament as the 10-seed while Moriarty, with an overall record of 7-3 (2-1 District 2-4A) had their three-game win streak snapped in the regular season finale on the road against Taos.

The winner of this first-round game will be on the road to face second-seeded Bloomfield.

Both teams had games against common opponents this season, as both the Broncos and Pintos faced off against Gallup and Grants. Kirtland Central beat Grants 14-7 and Gallup by a score of 43-6 while Moriarty knocked off the Pirates 54-7 and routed the Bengals 50-0 in the season opener for both schools.

Newcomb, Class 3A

Newcomb High School football enters the postseason with a three-game win streak, a District 1-3A title under their belt and a win on the road last weekend over the defending district champion Navajo Prep.

Despite those highlights, the Skyhawks still come into the Class 3A playoffs as the 10-seed and will be on the road on Friday at 6 p.m. to face seventh-seeded West Las Vegas.

Newcomb's Matthew Barber turns the corner against Navajo Prep's Daniel Yazzie and scores a touchdown in the fourth quarter on Thursday, October 27, 2022 at Eagles Stadium. The Skyhawks beat the Eagles 46-12 and claimed the District 1-3A title.

The Dons, with a record of 5-5 (1-3, District 2-3A), have lost two of their last three games including getting routed at home in their regular season 38-0 to Robertson. West Las Vegas was outscored 80-7 in their two most recent losses.

West Las Vegas and Newcomb do have one common opponent from this season. The Skyhawks lost to Thoreau earlier this month 14-6 while the Dons clobbered the Hawks 54-0 last month.

The winner of the Newcomb game against West Las Vegas will advance to the quarterfinals and a trip to Ruidoso to face the second-seeded Warriors.