As the injuries increased, the chances for the Belen Eagles to beat Miyamura and take a step toward a playoff berth decreased Friday on Senior Night at Eagles Stadium.
Ultimately, with running back Diego Avila out of the game with a knee injury, and quarterback Hunter Garcia sidelined with a bad shoulder, the Eagles lost to the Patriots 21-7.
The night started with much promise as the BHS seniors were recognized before opening kickoff.
When Avila went on a spectacular 69-yard touchdown run, starting to the left, spinning and reversing field to the right, the Eagles were in front 7-6 midway through the first quarter.
Early in the second quarter, a pass interference penalty led to a short touchdown run for Miyamura. The two-point conversation gave the Patriots the lead for good, 14-7.
A few minutes later, disaster struck for the Eagles. After being tackled, Avila could barely limp off the field with a knee injury. Soon after, Garcia was done for the night after a violent collision on a quarterback-keeper. Miyamura was in front 14-7 at the half.
“When you have your 1, 2, 3 tailbacks out, it’s kind of tough,” head coach Kevin Peña said. “But our kids played hard.”
Running back Damian Avila, Diego’s brother, did not play at all because of a previous injury.
With key offensive players sidelined, the Eagles struggled moving the ball and did not score the rest of the game. The defense did force three straight Miyamura fumbles, including recoveries by Manuel Marquez and Augustine Lopez. However, BHS was unable to move the ball.
The game ended 21-7. Belen falls to 2-7 and 1-1 in district 1-5A. The Eagles will likely need an upset Friday at third-ranked Piedra Vista and some luck to get back into the playoff picture. Miyamura improves to 4-5 and 1-1.
After the game, a ceremony in which the Eagles’ seniors walked the field one last time brought many tears and hugs.
“I feel bad for these seniors,” Peña said. “They gave us their heart this year. They had four different head coaches. I wish it would have been more successful for them.”
The Valencia Jaguars went on the road and routed Grants 40-7 Thursday to set up a showdown for the district championship against top ranked Silver.
The Jaguars scored on their first possession and never were threatened by the Pirates. The ground attack was clicking.
“We had some success running the sweep. We picked up 10 yards or more at a pop,” VHS head coach Wesley Shank said.
Rey Sanchez was particularly effective.
“He runs that sweep extremely well,” the coach said. “I’m guessing he ran for about 150 yards.”
Shank says Valencia needs to solve a problem which has dogged the team all season — penalties. The coach says the Jaguars drew at least 15 flags.
Valencia had four touchdowns called back because of penalties, including two on offense and two on defense. Shank says Grants only had one first down that was not aided by a Jaguar penalty.
Next up is Silver in the final game of the regular season on Friday at VHS. Both teams are 2-0 in district 5-4A. Valencia is riding a three-game winning streak while the Fighting Colts are 7-1 overall and ranked number one in 4A.
“Silver is the best team on our schedule,” Shank said. “We can’t commit anywhere near the number of penalties we’ve committed. I think if we clean that up we’ll be alright.”
The Jaguars expect running back Daniel Villegas will be back in the lineup after sitting out the Grants game with an injury.
Los Lunas Tigers
Another showdown will be in Los Lunas on Friday, with the Tigers’ hosting Clovis for the 6A District 5 championship. Both teams are coming off a bye week and bring 3-0 district records into the game.
LLHS is 5-4 overall, while the Wildcats have clawed back from an 0-6 start to win their last three games. The Tigers are also on a three-game winning streak. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at Willie Chavez Memorial Stadium.
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.