The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Regional football preview: Elida eyes upset in six-man title tilit


November 7, 2018

What a way to return to the field.

Elida’s football program had been on an eight-year hiatus, but came back as strong as ever this season, earning a No. 2 seed in the state Six-Man playoffs and going 9-1 so far.

And Saturday, they’ll carry that record into the state Six-Man championship game against top-seeded Animas.

Eight-year layoff? What eight-year layoff?

“We’ve got good athletes,” Elida head coach Jared Hestand said, “and I’ve worked with them since they were in junior high. And they already knew my offense since they were in junior high. We just took it and ran with it.”

All the way to Saturday’s title game at Animas High School. Kickoff time is scheduled for 1 p.m.

“The kids are hungry,” Hestand said. “They want something.”

The Tigers are coming off a 52-47 semifinal victory over third-seeded Carrizozo this past Saturday at Elida High School. But this time they’ll be battling an Animas team that’s 9-0 and walloped fourth-seeded Springer/Maxwell 52-0 in the semis.

“They’re a good team, a very good team,” Hestand said. “We’re going to have to pull everything out of the hat to beat ’em. They run spread and they have fast kids; our defense is going to have to play a good game. And we’re going to have to run a good offense against them and just go at it.”

Animas High School is near the Arizona border — in other words, really far. Hestand says the Tigers will begin the journey on Friday morning, and after they arrive in Animas, they’ll practice a bit before resting.

“Then get up (on Saturday),” Hestand said, “practice a little more, then go.”

A challenging distance, a very challenging team. But Hestand thinks the Tigers are up for it all.

“Yup, they’re ready to roll,” he said. “And I had a feeling of that when they played Carrizozo. I told them, ‘Y’all are good athletes, you can do it. So why not take the chance while you’ve got it.’”

Eight-Man quarterfinals

Melrose (5-5) at Magdalena (6-2), Friday, 5 p.m.

Fresh off a 56-0 pasting of 12th-seeded Pine Hill in last weekend’s state Eight-Man first round, the fifth-seeded Buffaloes are on a roll.

They’ll try to stay rolling when facing fourth-seeded Magdalena this Friday in the quarterfinals, as the quest for five state titles in a row continues.

There are still three important, difficult steps to get that fifth straight crown, including the next one against a Magdalena squad that has already beaten the Buffaloes this season.

“They’re a good team,” Melrose head coach Caleb King said. “They’ve got a good quarterback, the (Jaxson) Mirabal kid, he’s real good. They’ve got a receiver/ running back in No. 4 (Garrison Monte). They do a good job of blocking and spreading it out, running the football and using that to set up their pass. Pretty good football team.”

So, how does Melrose defend that?

“We’ve got to make sure we do a good job with our pass rush,” King said, “put pressure on the quarterback, do a good job of containing him. We’ve got some good cover guys, so they just have to make sure they do a good job.”

Melrose did pick off Mirabal twice in the Sept. 13 meeting at neutral Mountainair High School.

Offensively, the Buffaloes will look to keep Magdalena’s defense guessing on Friday.

“We’ve got to make sure that we execute our game plan, balance our run with our pass,” King said. “We kind of run spread, too, so we’ll use that against them. We’ve just got to make sure we use that like we have the last three or four weeks.”

One major difference from the teams’ last meeting, won by Magdalena 28-14, is health. Eight weeks ago, Melrose was banged up. This week, not so much.

“We’ve got everybody, so we’ll be good,” King said. “We’re about as healthy as we’ve been all year.”

2A quarterfinals

Texico (4-7) at Eunice (9-0), Saturday, 1 p.m.

The eighth-seeded Wolverines have a tall task on their hands, facing top-seeded Eunice on Saturday.

But they already played Eunice earlier this season. And though that didn’t go so well (52-6 loss), the Wolves do have that familiarity. They know what to expect, what they did right, did wrong, what needs fixing.

And things like that can go a long way in football rematches.

“Most definitely,” Texico head coach Pat Crowley said, “and that’s what our message to the kids is. We’ve seen (Eunice), we’re not going to have the stars in our eyes. They certainly are a good football team, but we weren’t at full strength (in the first matchup on Sept. 28) and have gotten better. And we knew we’d have to face them again some time.”

That time is Saturday. Even at full-strength and rolling off a 36-0 home win over ninth-seeded Hagerman in last week’s first round, Texico is going to have to be sharp against one of the state’s top 2A squads.

“They throw the ball very, very well,” Crowley said. “And their running game is solid also. I think they throw it better than they run it. We’ve just got to stick to our keys and be responsible for our assignments. They have been susceptible some times to some blitzes. If you have to disguise your coverages and not give your quarterback an easy read, it’s going to be a battle.”

Regular season

Texas 2A Region I District 2

Farwell (8-1, 4-0 district) at Sudan (10-0, 5-0), Friday 6 p.m.

While all this New Mexico state playoff football is going on, Farwell is ending its regular season with an intriguing matchup.

The Steers travel east along I-84 to play a tough Sudan team. True, Farwell is streaking, having won eight in a row since dropping its season opener to Friona. But, Sudan is streaking even more, going 10 for 10 so far this season.

The Hornets have stung opponents for 406 points this year, while allowing just 105. That’s a whole-number per-game average of 41-11.

If the Steers can halt that trend, get their ninth straight victory, it would propel them into the state playoffs with plenty of momentum.


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