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Scorpions, Bobcats both advance in New Mexico high school football playoffs

BLOOMFIELD — The Bloomfield Bobcats advanced to the Class 4A State Football Championships semifinals with a 48-13 victory at home over the Valencia Jaguars.

Meantime, the Farmington Scorpions also advanced in the playoffs, earning a hard-fought 28-6 win at Hutchison Stadium over the Santa Teresa Desert Warriors.

Here's a look back at some of the key moments in Friday night's football playoff games.

Class 4A

BLOOMFIELD 48-Valencia 13

Avenging their only loss on what has otherwise been a perfect season, the Bloomfield Bobcats took a step forward in their quest towards a Class 4A state title, beating Valencia 48-13 in a quarterfinal showdown in front of a packed house at Bobcat Stadium.

Jesse Seitzinger played the biggest role of the night for the Bobcats, scoring two touchdowns in the game, including one in the game's opening minutes. Seitzinger played a huge role on both sides of the ball in leading the Bobcats into the state semifinals.

"He's one of those kids who's been a real hidden gem for us," said Bloomfield head coach Mike Kovacs. "He's taken on a couple different roles for us and it's a blast to watch him play."

More: Live Blog: Valencia (7-4) at Bloomfield (9-1) in high school football playoffs

Andres Gordo got the Bobcats on the board early in the game, scooping up a fumble from Jaguars quarterback Rey Garcia and sprinting down the visitor sideline 25 yards for a quick lead.

After Valencia punted the ball away to end their next drive, Seitzinger scored from a yard out, culminating a 6-play drive that put Bloomfield up 14-0 with less than six minutes remaining in the first quarter.

Bobcats quarterback Ryan Sharpe, who has been battling knee injuries of late, came through later in the first quarter, finding receiver Mark Armenta open in the middle of the field on a slant route. Armenta did the rest, scoring from 33 yards out, giving Bloomfield an enormous 21-0 lead before the end of the quarter.

"You never want to get too comfortable with a big lead, especially in the playoffs with so much riding on every game," Kovacs said. "(Valencia) wasn't going to go down that easily and we knew that."

The Jaguars did fight back, getting a pair of touchdown passes in the second quarter from Garcia to Josiah Rael to narrow the Bobcats lead to 21-13.

Bloomfield (10-1 overall) answered back right before the end of the first half. Sharpe, in obvious discomfort as the injury to his right knee limited his mobility, found receiver George Rascon on a corner route that gave the Bobcats first and goal from the 1-yard line.

More: Bloomfield High's Kovacs named District 1-4A coach of the year

Diego Snell-Martinez took the ball up the middle on the next play and scored, giving Bloomfield a commanding 27-13 lead into the locker room.

Sharpe completed seven of 13 passes for 143 yards and a touchdown and interception before a decision was made in the second half to platoon him at times with backup freshman quarterback Blake Spencer. 

"They both did a real good job," Kovacs said of his quarterback duo. "We can run a couple of different packages depending on who's out there and what we're trying to accomplish, so I'm real proud of what they did."

The Bobcats, the two-seed in the Class 4A playoffs, inched clear in the second half, led by another defensive touchdown midway through the third quarter.

Jeremiah Sandoval picked off a pass from Garcia along the Bobcat sideline, shed a pair of would-be tacklers and sprinted for a 66-yard return, opening the floodgates on the Jaguars and releasing some demons from the loss earlier in the season.

"There were some things that happened last time," Sandoval said, referring to the loss to Valencia on Sept. 24. "We just needed to build from what happened in that last game and we had each other's backs tonight. I couldn't have done it without my teammates."

Sandoval has been instrumental for the Bobcats, both defensively and on special teams late in the season. He has a punt return for a touchdown as well as a pair of fake punts in which he extended drives by getting first downs.

More: 2021 New Mexico high school football playoffs schedule, scores

"Sometimes, (Kovacs) doesn't call them and sometimes he does," Sandoval joked. "I know they can't catch me if I find the right time, so I like to get those."

As the game appeared more and more out of reach, Bloomfield added to the margin of victory. Seitzinger's third score, a 5-yard run play up the middle, extended the Bobcats lead to 40-13 with 2:23 left in the third.

In addition to his big touchdown in the first quarter, Gordo and fellow running back Aaron Johnson had some big plays in the second half, churning up chunks of yards as Bloomfield began to work the game clock. Johnson carried the ball six times and gained 59 yards while Gordo had seven carries for 47 yards. On the night, the Bobcats rushed for more than 180 yards.

The Bobcats will be at home Saturday at 3 p.m. when they face Ruidoso after the sixth-seeded Warriors romped on the road over second-seeded St. Pius by a final of 33-8. The winner of the Bloomfield vs. Ruidoso semifinal game will face either Lovington or Moriarty for the Class 4A state championship.

For more information about the Class 4A football playoffs, check out the tournament's official website.

Class 5A

FARMINGTON 28-Santa Teresa 6 

The Farmington Scorpions football team overcame a slow start and several early miscues before edging clear in the second half on their way to a 28-6 win Friday night over Santa Teresa in a Class 5A quarterfinal match at Hutchison Stadium.

Despite turning the ball over five times and committing way too many penalties for the taste of Scorpion head coach Jeff Dalton, the win keeps Farmington's record this season (11-0) unblemished and their season on track for a state championship bid.

More: State Football Championships moving on to quarterfinals this weekend

"Offensively, we shot ourselves in the foot quite a bit early on," said Dalton. "I think we were really in our own way in the early part of the game. Our defense bailed us out so many times and they really helped us earn this win."

The top-seeded Scorpions jumped out to a quick start, scoring a touchdown on their second play from scrimmage when quarterback Brandon Furbee found Patrick Shay wide open in the middle of the field for a 65-yard strike. 

The game slowed down significantly from that point, as Santa Teresa utilized the strength of their running game to pick up yards and chew up a lot of time in the first half.

"They're a big, athletic team and they had some matchups that allowed them to move the ball," Dalton said. "It took us some time to adjust to their size."

The Desert Warriors got on the board late in the first half. Capitalizing on one of Farmington's many turnovers, Santa Teresa cashed in when Ivan Reyes scored from two yards out with just more than a minute to go before halftime. The extra point attempt was no good and FHS went into the locker room with a 7-6 lead.

The game turned in the direction of Farmington midway through the third quarter, as they outscored Santa Teresa 21-0, thanks to Chance Carrillo who cashed in a drive with a two-yard score with three minutes remaining. 

Carrillo and Julian Gomez both made significant contributions on that scoring drive, with Furbee finding Gomez open on a short inside route that Gomez nearly ran into the end zone, getting knocked out of bounds inside the Desert Warriors 5-yard line, setting up Carrillo's touchdown.

"He's kept our offense engaged when we're struggling a little bit," Dalton said of Carrillo. "He stays positive and stays efficient and does his job and found openings when we needed them." 

Less than a minute later, the special teams unit stepped up in a big way, as Kayden Gonzalez scored the first of his two touchdowns on punt returns to put the game out of reach.

Gonzalez' first punt return of 49 yards late in the third quarter was followed up by a 51-yard scoring return with less than four minutes left in the fourth, sealing the deal for the Scorpions.

"He's just an athlete doing athletic things," said Dalton about Gonzalez' performance. "Both of those touchdowns were absolute game-changers for us."

Farmington will face Artesia Saturday at 1 p.m. after the fourth-seeded Bulldogs outscored Mayfield 35-21 in their quarterfinal game on Saturday. The game will be played in Artesia and will be broadcast live on radio at KENN 1390AM.

The winner of that game will face either Goddard or Los Lunas for the Class 5A state championship later this month.

For more information on the Class 5A championships, including schedules and updated brackets, check out the tournament's official website

Steve Bortstein can be reached via email at, via Twitter @DTSBortstein or on the phone at (505) 635-2680.