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Panthers, Bobcats join Aztec and Farmington in prep football playoffs

FARMINGTON − The Bloomfield Bobcats and Piedra Vista Panthers, who both had a bye week in the opening round of the 2022 New Mexico High School football playoffs, will return to action this weekend in quarterfinal matchups at their respective home stadiums.

Meantime, both the Farmington Scorpions and Aztec Tigers, both of which are coming off first round postseason wins at home last weekend, will hit the road in their respective classifications.

Here's a glance at this weekend's prep football playoff matchups.

Farmington at La Cueva, Friday, 7 p.m.

The Farmington High School football team will face La Cueva for the second time in three weeks when they square off Friday night at Wilson Stadium in Albuquerque in the second round of the Class 6A state football playoff.

Second-seeded La Cueva, which entered the postseason with a bye after winning District 2-5/6A with a record of 9-1, rolled over the Scorpions last month in the final game of the regular season for both teams. The Bears outscored Farmington by a score of 62-19 in that matchup. La Cueva was unbeaten (4-0) in district play, outscoring their opponents by a combined margin of 270-122.

The Bears are led on offense by quarterback Aiden Armenta, who leads the state with nearly 3,300 passing yards to go along with 40 touchdown passes. Senior Ian Sanchez and junior Jackson Hix have combined for more than 2,000 receiving yards and 29 scores.

The Scorpions will counter with junior signal-caller Trel Griego, who has been a threat both inside and outside the pocket, having thrown for 27 touchdowns and running for nine on the season. Among Griego's biggest weapons are Michael Beck, Jevon Smith and Josiyah Archuelta, all of whom were on the receiving end of touchdown passes last weekend when Farmington outscored Carlsbad 34-33 in the opening round of the postseason.

"We can't afford to make the same special teams mistakes we made when we last played (La Cueva)," said Scorpions head coach Jeff Dalton. "That really got the ball rolling for them. We fixed those things and are real excited to have another shot at them."

The winner of this game will move on to the Class 6A semifinals and a showdown against either third-seeded Centennial or sixth-seeded Rio Rancho. Cleveland is coming off a bye week while Rio Rancho won their opening round game last weekend 21-7 at home over Alamogordo.

Aztec vs. Silver, Saturday, 1 p.m.

The Aztec Tigers will be looking to extend their season one more week when they take the long road trip to Silver City to face the top-seeded Fighting Colts on Saturday night.

This is the second meeting of the season between the two teams. Silver won the first matchup by a score of 28-14 at Silver High School after falling behind 14-0 early in the first quarter.

"It's a game we've been looking forward to since that night" Strauss said. "We've got to work really hard and we're super excited to keep going."

The Fighting Colts come into the game with a four-game win streak and a record of 9-1 this season, including a perfect mark of 3-0 in District 3-5/4A. In those three victories, Silver has not given up a point, outscoring their rivals by a margin of 99-0. The last points scored against Silver came in a matchup at home against Bloomfield, a game the Fighting Colts outscored the Bobcats 45-6.

The status of Silver running back Aiden Granado is in doubt after having suffered an injury in their season finale against Valencia. Granado was leading the team with nearly 900 rushing yards and 13 total scores. In his place may be seniors Ricky Vasquez and Mason Lockett, who have combined for 17 touchdowns and 800 rushing yards.

Aztec will lean heavily on a solid defensive unit which shut down Valencia in a 12-6 win last weekend at home in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs. The Jaguars managed to move the ball into Aztec territory only twice in the first three quarters of that game.

On the offensive side of the ball, receiver Tristen McNeal and quarterback Landan Frost will look to keep Silver's defense on the field while also getting big play from running backs Jacob Greyeyes and Justin Bixler.

The winner of this game will move on to the state Class 4A semifinals and a showdown against either fourth-seeded Lovington or fifth-seeded Portales. Lovington, the defending Class 4A state champions, rolled in their first round clash against St. Pius while Portales will be making their postseason debut this weekend.

Moriarty at Bloomfield, Saturday, 1 p.m.

The Bloomfield High School football team will face a tough task Saturday at Bobcat Stadium when they host Moriarty in a second-round game of the state Class 4A playoffs.

The Pintos have won four of their last five games and enter the postseason with a record of 8-3 and a first round romp at home over Kirtland Central. They will be led offensively by junior running back Santiago Chavez, who has amassed more than 900 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns as well as senior back Michael Magoffe with more than 600 rushing yards and nine touchdowns this season.

"I think their offense is loaded with quality kids," said Bloomfield head coach Mike Kovacs. "Defensively, we have to do good reads and we can't get caught up with following players around. We have to be smart but aggressive."

Bloomfield comes into the tournament as the second-seed in Class 4A, having a record of 9-1 and a perfect District 1-4A campaign with a record of 3-0. A win over the Pintos assures the Bobcats of a home game in the semifinals next weekend against either Taos or Albuquerque Academy

"We're just focused on Moriarty right now. We can't lose focus of the next big thing," Kovacs said. "Because we know they can be the ones that come up here and bite you."

Mayfield at Piedra Vista, Saturday, 1 p.m.

The third-seeded Piedra Vista High School football team is familiar with how difficult it is to compete with the likes of Goddard and Roswell in District 4-5A.

The Trojans failed to win a game in three outings in the district, and come into the Class 5A tournament off a 21-10 win at home over Santa Teresa in the first round of the playoffs. A victory over Mayfield, which earned the six-seed based on the quality of their schedule as well as an earlier win this season over Deming, will be a formidable task for the Panthers.

"Our preparation has been good, but that's a very physical team we'll be facing," said Panthers coach Jared Howell. "Their program has a great tradition and they're coached well."

Piedra Vista has faced both Goddard and Roswell this season, with a win at home over Goddard before suffering their only loss this season on the road at Roswell.

"That's the best district in the state top to bottom, so to have a win against one of them is a pretty big deal," Howell said.

Piedra Vista will be looking for their fourth straight win when they line up with Mayfield on Saturday at Hutchison Stadium. They've outscored their last three rivals by a margin of 138-21.

The winner of this game will face either 10th-seeded Gadsden or second-seeded Roswell. If the Panthers win, they'll host Gadsden in the semifinals, but would make the long road trip to the Wool Bowl for the second time this season to face the Coyotes.

"We're healthier than we've been in a long time," Howell said. "We're expecting a tough, physical game. We have to be disciplined to not let their power running offense get the best of us. Being at home is a really big deal in a game like this."