After struggling in September, Los Lunas and Valencia high schools post football victories to start October.
Los Lunas Tigers
A stingy defense and a big play offense propelled Los Lunas to a 27-0 district victory over Albuquerque High Friday night at Willie Chavez Memorial Stadium.
A lackluster first quarter ended with the Tigers leading 3-0 on a 35-yard field goal by Kaden Bell.
Despite several nice running plays, including a 45-yard scamper by Niko Torrez, LLHS was hampered by penalties in the second quarter and was unable to score again until the last minute of the half.
The Tigers were backed up inside their own 10-yard line and content to run out the clock when fortune struck. The Bulldogs called a time out hoping to get a chance to put points on the board.
Instead, Tigers’ quarterback Paul Cieremans rolled to his right and threw a pass that went 50 yards in the air into the arms of a wide-open Fabian Trujillo who raced to the end zone.
“It wasn’t really designed to go deep,” said LLHS head coach Greg Henington. “We were trying to hit a short comeback and saw him open and struck it.”
Linebacker Gabriel Castillo saw it from the sidelines.
“It was just a big momentum boost,” Castillo said. “We got them stopped on defense and the offense did something with it.”
LLHS was up 10-0 at the half.
The defense continued to stymie AHS, which couldn’t move the ball at all through the air. Los Lunas found the end zone in the third quarter when Cieremans, who missed several games with an injury, broke a number of tackles and went 54 yards for the touchdown.
“It felt good, getting back into things. It’s healing up,” Cieremans said.
Los Lunas scored twice in the fourth quarter on a 33-yard run by Torrez, and another field goal by Bell to make the final score 27-0.
“It was sloppy at first. They kind of punched us in the mouth,” Cieremans said. “Second half, we kind of punched them in the mouth and kept working.”
The Tigers improve to 4-4 overall, and 2-0 in district play. LLHS visits Santa Fe on Friday.
The Valencia Jaguars left nothing to chance this time. After being unable to hold a late lead in three of their last four games, VHS built a six-touchdown lead and dominated Rio Grande last Thursday at Milne Stadium, winning 32-12.
On a rainy night, both offenses struggled in a scoreless first quarter, forcing one turnover each. The Jaguars’ Martin Chavez started the game intercepting a Ravens’ pass.
After a 47-yard run by Jericho Pino, quarterback Matthew Chavez started the onslaught with a 17 yard run, and the Jaguars led 6-0. Valencia was unsuccessful on its first five 2-point conversion tries.
On the next Raven drive, Aiden Harrington picked off a pass and it was a 40-yard dash down the sidelines into the end zone.
“To be honest, I thought that guy was going to catch me,” Harrington said. “I was just booking it.”
It was the first of three interceptions for Harrington.
VHS took a 12-0 lead into the locker room.
With Pino breaking off big gainers, the Jaguars were able to move the ball to open the second half. Rey Sanchez, who switched from quarterback to slot receiver, scored on an end-around to make it 18-0.
The game continued to get “chippy,” with trash talking and personal foul penalties on both sides. Late in the third quarter. Chavez ran it in again and the VHS lead increased to 24-0.
The Jaguars scored for the final time when Chavez found Sanchez, the teammate he still considers the starting quarterback, on a touchdown strike.
“I went to look to the right side of the field and the safety went over,” Chavez said. “He (Sanchez) happened to be open. He’s a fast little guy. Threw it up to him and it was a touchdown.”
Rio Grande, 1-5, scored two touchdowns late in the game to make the final score 32-12.
The Jaguars ended a four-game losing streak and improved to 2-5. It was far from a perfect outing, but VHS head coach Wesley Shank feels some of the adjustments bode well for district play.
“We changed some positions and it looked good,” Shank said. “We wanted to get our best athletes on the field.”
District play opens Saturday on the road against St. Pius.
The 1-6 Belen Eagles did not play last week. BHS returns to action Thursday at Highland for the start of district action.
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.