State Football Championships moving on to quarterfinals this weekend
FARMINGTON — The Farmington Scorpions will be looking to continue their unbeaten season Friday night at Hutchison Stadium when they face Santa Teresa in the Class 5A quarterfinals of the 2021 New Mexico Activities Association's State Football Championships.
Meantime, Bloomfield will be looking for a measure of revenge Friday night at home when they face Valencia, the only loss on the Bobcats schedule this season, in the Class 4A quarterfinals.
Here's a look at the local playoff matchups happening this weekend.
The Daily Times will have live coverage of the Bloomfield-Valencia game starting at 6:30 p.m. on Friday during our Game of the Week live blog at www.daily-times.com.
Santa Teresa (9-2) at Farmington (10-0), Friday, 7 p.m.
Just six days removed from a hard-fought 21-0 win at home last Saturday over Piedra Vista in the first round of the State Football Championships, the Santa Teresa Desert Warriors will make the long road trip to Hutchison Stadium Friday to face the top-seeded Scorpions in the quarterfinals.
The effects of a 440-mile trek from Santa Teresa to Farmington likely won't be the only disadvantage facing the eighth-seeded Desert Warriors when they meet the unbeaten Scorpions. Farmington has leveled every opponent on their schedule this season. Ranked atop the MaxPreps Class 5A poll much of the entire season, the Scorpions have outscored their opposition by an average margin of nearly 49-4 and have surrendered only nine points in their last five games.
Santa Teresa, coming off a tough, grinding win at home over the Panthers last week, will once again turn to their running game, namely senior running back Adrian Rodriguez and junior running back Angel Hernandez, who combined for nearly 230 yards on the ground and a touchdown against the Panthers.
"We're really confident in our backs and our offensive line," said Santa Teresa head coach Shae Vierra. "We wanted to take advantage of the strength that we had coming into the game."
Similarly, Piedra Vista relies heavily on their own running game, which was stymied much of the afternoon last weekend on the road at Santa Teresa. For the game, the Panthers offense failed to gain any significant yardage and turned the ball over several times.
The Desert Warriors have played the last two games without senior quarterback Julian Cobos, who's status for Friday night is still in doubt.
"We're trying to get him cleared to play," Vierra said. "We don't think he's going to play."
Meantime, the Scorpion offense is much more balanced, with starting quarterback Brandon Furbee having thrown 14 touchdowns and rushing for nine this season.
"It's a matchup of speed versus strength," said Farmington coach Jeff Dalton. "They've got some big, physical players up front, and it's going to be a test to create some opportunities on offense."
In addition, Farmington boasts a powerful running game that can run around or through defensive units, scoring 22 touchdowns on the ground this season.
"The differences between Piedra Vista and Farmington are like night and day," said Vierra. "They (Farmington) can attack you in so many ways on offense, and that's not even talking about how well they've played on defense."
Farmington will look to strike early against Santa Teresa, shut down their running game and allow for scoring opportunities in their bid to remain unbeaten and into the state semifinals.
"Playoff football brings out the best in everyone," Dalton said. "You can't take anything for granted and you have to face whatever challenge comes at you."
The Farmington game against Santa Teresa will air live on KENN Radio, AM1390 and 92.1FM.
The winner of the Scorpions game against Santa Teresa will move on to face the winner of a quarterfinal game between fifth-seeded Mayfield at fourth-seeded Artesia.
Valencia (7-4) at Bloomfield (9-1), Friday, 7 p.m.
The landscape has changed significantly for both the Bloomfield Bobcats and Valencia Jaguars since they met on the football field at Valencia High School on Sept. 24.
Head coach Mike Kovacs hopes his team will use that game as a reminder of how quickly championship hopes can be dashed when the Bobcats look to avenge their only loss of the season Friday night in the Class 4A quarterfinals for the State Football Championships.
In that earlier game, Valencia topped then-unbeaten Bloomfield by a final of 34-21. A slew of injuries and some sloppy play on the field found the Bobcats playing from behind much of that game and never able to recover.
"We're coming into this game with the approach there's got to be a little rock in your gut about the loss," Kovacs said. "We get to go into this game knowing we're the better team."
Bloomfield (9-1), ranked second in the state (MaxPreps) and looking for their third trip to the state championship game in the last four seasons, came into that matchup six weeks ago without starting quarterback Ryan Sharpe, who suffered a knee injury one week earlier against Miyamura. While Sharpe has played sparingly since that injury, he's once again listed as doubtful for the quarterfinal game.
In his place may be freshman quarterback Blake Spencer or senior Drew Perez, a converted wide receiver who filled in admirably under center during Bloomfield's season finale on Oct. 29 when they won the District 1-4A title by beating Kirtland Central 34-29, earning the two-seed in the playoffs and getting a week off to prepare.
"Either way, we like where our kids are coming into the game," Kovacs said. "We were fortunate to win the district and have the bye week to get healthy again."
Valencia, the seven-seed in the Class 4A playoffs, earned their way into this game by beating Taos 53-23 in the first round. Bloomfield, the two-seed in the playoffs had last weekend off.
Jaguars senior quarterback Rey Garcia threw for three touchdowns and ran for three more in their playoff romp over Taos.
"He (Garcia) has done such a great job for that team," Kovacs said. "He's an amazing athlete and that's one of the main kids we're going to have to keep in check."
Jaguars junior receiver Adriano Ortiz and senior wideout Jacob Farley will likely be key targets again for Garcia. The two players scored a touchdown in last week's win over Taos. They'll need offensive productivity and a big performance defensively to keep up with a Bloomfield squad that's scored an average of 36.5 points per game this season and has outscored their four district opponents by a margin of 164-64.
The Bloomfield vs. Valencia game will air on radio at KRWN 92.5FM.
The winner of this game will move on to the state semifinals to face either St. Pius or Ruidoso next weekend.
For more information about the State Football Championships, including schedules and brackets, check out the official tournament website.
Steve Bortstein can be reached via email at SBortstein@Gannett.com, via Twitter @DTSBortstein or on the phone at (505) 635-2680.