After going winless in September, Valencia County football teams are now 5-0 in October. Belen, Los Lunas and Valencia all posted victories last week.
Diego Avila scored three touchdowns, and the defense did not give up a TD as the Belen Eagles opened district play Thursday in Albuquerque with a convincing 30-7 victory over Highland at Wilson Stadium.
The opening half featured plenty of punts and third and long situations for both teams. On the first play of the second quarter, Nicholas Fresquez recovered a Hornets’ fumble setting up Avila’s first touchdown and the Eagles led 7-0.
“The defense played outstanding,” said BHS head coach Kevin Peña. “Our guys played very physical.”
It stayed 7-0 until a minute left in the half when Belen fumbled a snap and Highland recovered in the end zone for the Hornets’ lone score of the game. It was 7-7, but only briefly.
Avila, who rushed for 198 yards, took it in from the four-yard line with 17 seconds left to put Belen up 14-7 at the half.
The Eagles got on the board in the third quarter when a Highland snap went out of the end zone for a safety. It was 16-7 BHS at that point.
Avila quickly turned the ensuing free kick into more points on a 7-yard run to increase the lead to 23-7.
“Diego’s amazing,” said Peña. “He ran all over the field. A couple of plays he made them on his own really.”
Avila set up the Eagles’ final score with a half back pass on fourth down to Jesse Vasquez.
“I like that play,” Avila said. “We need to do that more.”
Quarterback Hunter Garcia finished off the drive to make the final score 30-7, ending Belen’s 5 game losing streak. Highland falls to 5-2 and 0-1.
“We executed very well today,” Avila said. “Everyone did their job.”
Lineman Bobby Orona agreed. “We did pretty good today. It’s nice to get a win, after a while.”
The Eagles’ are 2-5 and 1-0 in district and will play their final regular season home game Friday against district rival Miyamura.
Los Lunas Tigers
It was over early Friday night in Santa Fe with the Los Lunas Tigers defeating the outmanned Santa Fe Demons 51-0 in a game called early in the fourth quarter because of the mercy rule.
“We played great on both sides of the ball,” Tigers’ head coach Greg Henington said.
The Tigers built a 24-0 first-quarter lead, aided by a fumble return for a touchdown by Thomas Ordonez and a pick-six by Mario Perez. LLHS forced five turnovers, and unofficially held Santa Fe to under 50 total yards of offense.
The LLHS offense took over in the second quarter, adding 21 more points including a 6-yard touchdown pass from Paul Cieremans to Ethan Baca.
Fabian Trujillo added two touchdowns in the first half. LLHS was coasting 45-0.
After a scoreless third quarter, a scoring run by Niko Torres with 11 minutes left ended the game by the 50-point rule.
Henington said it was “cool to see the offense execute so precisely and get positive results.”
He added that both Cieremans and Torres played extremely well, as did the defense which posted a second straight shutout.
The Tigers are 5-4 overall, and 3-0 in district play. Santa Fe is now 1-7.
Los Lunas is off this week and hosts Clovis on Oct. 28 to end the regular season.
The Valencia Jaguars opened district play with a hard fought 17-14 victory Saturday over St. Pius at Nusenda Community Stadium in Albuquerque.
VHS struggled offensively for much of the first half and trailed 0-7 after the Sartans scored on a six yard touchdown run on their opening possession.
The Jags defense stiffened after that. Martin Chavez picked off a St. Pius pass to stop one drive and a sack helped shut down another.
The offense moved the ball later in the second quarter, almost exclusively on the ground.
Jericho Pino did most of the damage and when he took it in from five yards out the score was tied 7-7. That’s the way the first half ended.
The VHS defense continued the pressure in the third quarter, first with an interception by Isaiah Rodriguez and then a fourth down stop.
The Jaguars took the lead for the first time with 7:50 minutes left in the game on a 26-yard field goal by Liam Crews.
“In practice, I feel more pressure,” Crews said. “You just have to lock in and make sure you’re doing this for your family.”
VHS led 13-10.
After the Valencia defense forced another punt, a combination of runs from Pino, Rey Garcia and Adriano Ortiz moved the ball into the red zone. Garcia found pay dirt from the one-yard line and the Jaguars led 17-7 with 1:25 to go.
It wasn’t quite over. Several missed tackles allowed St. Pius to score on a 65-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 17-14, but Crews managed to snare a bouncing onside kick, sealing Valencia’s victory.
“I saw a lot of black and yellow in front of my eyes,” Crews said, referring to the Sartan players’ uniforms. “I didn’t care. I had to grab that ball, come down with it.”
Valencia is now 3-5 overall, and 1-0 in the district, while St. Pius drops to 1-7 and 0-1.
“An ugly win is better than a good loss,” said VHS head coach Wesley Shank. “Offensively, we’re just trying to hold on and that’s not going to work if we played somebody that can score some points.”
Valencia plays Thursday at Grants in another district game.
Mike Powers spent more than 40 years as a television news and sports anchor, mostly in the Albuquerque market. He has won numerous awards including New Mexico Sportscaster of the Year. He covers a wide range of sports, including the Valencia County prep scene.