September has been unkind to Valencia County high school football teams. Belen, Valencia and Los Lunas have combined for an 0-11 record during the month.
October and district play are on the horizon, bringing new hope.
Los Lunas High School
Cibola scored on a halfback pass with 15 seconds left to complete a fourth-quarter comeback to defeat Los Lunas 36-30 Saturday at Nusenda Community Stadium in Albuquerque.
The Tigers, now 2-4 and losers of four straight, held a 23-7 lead going into the final 12 minutes.
LLHS played one of its best halves of the season, shutting out the high-powered Cougars in the first half.
Quarterback Paul Cieremans found Cash Aragon for a 17 yard touchdown to open the scoring but the 2-point conversation failed.
In the second quarter, Niko Torres had a sack on fourth down, and then the senior added a touchdown reception from Cieremans. Jason Ussery’s interception at the goal-line right before halftime led to a Kaiden Bell field goal to make it 16-0.
It was 23-7 after three quarters, following another Cieremans to Torres touchdown pass. From there, Cibola’s 6-5 senior quarterback Aden Chavez dominated.
After a Cibola touchdown cut the lead to 23-15, the Tigers struggled. LLHS was unable to haul in a long pass, dropped a snap, received a controversial pass interference penalty and a big gain was negated by another penalty.
Two long touchdown passes by Chavez gave Cibola a 29-23 lead with just more than two minutes left in the game, setting up a wild finale. A 17-yard strike from Cieremans to Ethan Baca, and the extra point by Bell put the Tigers in front 30-29 with 1:13 on the clock.
Following a successful fourth-down conversion, Cibola answered with a halfback pass that fooled the defense. The 30-yard touchdown with 14.9 seconds left was the game winner. Cibola is 5-0 after the 36-30 victory.
“The kids have been playing their hearts out,” LLHS head coach Greg Henington said. “It’s time to get it to break a different way.”
Lineman Jasiah Baca is staying positive.
“We have to keep working. We need to finish this year hard,” the junior said.
The Tigers begin district play on Friday with a visit to Santa Fe Capital.
Belen High School
The Belen Eagles scored first but Las Cruces Mayfield ran the table after that to win 49-7 Thursday at the Field of Dreams in Las Cruces.
Diego Avila fought off several Trojan defenders to find the end zone on the Eagles first possession.
“We started great,” said Belen head coach Kevin Peña. “But after the opening kickoff, we couldn’t get things going.”
The Eagles’ Ethan Thomas got his first start at quarterback. Thomas was only 3 for 11 passing, but Peña said he thought the sophomore “did a great job,” especially running the veer offense.
Peña said there were several injuries in the first half, especially on the offensive line, that contributed to inconsistency.
The Trojans, now 3-3, tied the score late in the first quarter and blew it open with 21 second quarter points.
“The score may not look like it, but we did a lot better,” then in recent games according to Peña.
Belen is now 1-5 with Roswell Goddard coming Friday to Eagle Stadium in the final non-district game.
Valencia High School
Bloomfield stayed unbeaten Friday with a convincing 55-13 home victory over Valencia.
Early in the second quarter, the Jaguars’ Tyler Farless caught a touchdown pass from Rey Garcia to tie the game at 7-7, but the Bobcats’ scored on a 65 yard touchdown pass to help build a 29-7 halftime lead.
“We didn’t match their energy and intensity,” VHS head coach Wesley Shank said. The Bobcats “really got after it.”
Shank said Garcia sprained an ankle on the first drive and was limited the rest of the game.
“They stacked the box, forcing us to throw,” Shanks said. “We weren’t very good throwing the ball.”
The Jaguars, now 1-4, will finally play their homecoming game on Friday against Gadsden. The non-district showdown kicks off at 7 p.m.
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.