Jaguars 0-4 after Thursday night loss to Atrisco

........................................................................................................................................................................................

It’s not that the Valencia High football team can’t make plays.

Jason W. Brooks-News-Bulletin photo: Valencia High receiver Chris Alvarez tries to pull away from Atrisco Heritage Academy’s Phillip LaCour in Thursday’s 40-6 VHS loss. Alvarez caught a Joe Heneghan touchdown pass for Valencia’s only points of the game.

Thursday’s 40-6 loss to Atrisco Heritage Academy showed how close the Jaguars are to making the offensive and defensive plays that could help them win — and how far off the Jags seem to be in some fundamental areas.

Valencia fell to 0-4 with the loss, and is set to play at Farmington High at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 28.

“We are 0-4, but we are going to get better,” said Valencia’s first-year coach, Kevin Jolley. “We need to progress in so many areas. We’ve got to have more of a sense of urgency.”

Atrisco, led by an explosive running game that chewed up 349 yards and had the mercy-rule running clock going in the second half, nearly shut out the Jaguars.

Valencia scored as time expired in the game, with Chris Alvarez catching a deflected pass from Joe Heneghan.

No conversion play was attempted after Valencia scored, as the game was over.

Heneghan came in during the fourth quarter, in relief of Anthony Gonazales, who was Valencia’s leading rusher on the night with 55 yards.

Atrisco outgained Valencia, also called the Jaguars, by a 434-206 margin. Sophomore running back Ricci Alvidrez scored twice on first-half touchdown runs, and he finished with 154 yards on only 12 carries.

Atrisco scored on a 7-yard run by Phillip LaCour to cap a 79-yard drive, then turned a Valencia fumble at its own 16 into a 7-yard score by Alvidrez. The sophomore scampered 36 yards for another score in the second period to help the host Jaguars lead 20-0 at the half.

Atrisco scored three times in the third quarter, twice on keepers by quarterback Nate Goode and again when receiver Jeremy Sanchez got a Goode pass, fumbled, and recovered it in the back corner of the end zone.

Goode finished with 90 rushing yards and was 5-of-11 through the air for 74 more, with no interceptions. Atrisco backs had plenty of room to roam most of the night, and the Valencia offensive line was able to do very little to help establish any inside running game.

The hosts might have racked up more points, but were flagged 17 times for 135 yards. Thirteen of those penalties came in the first half.

Valencia had eight penalties of its own, and lost two fumbles. The Jaguars had beaten Atrisco by 44-7 and 48-26 scores the first two times the teams met.

The most discouraging moment for Valencia was probably in the second quarter on a drive that stalled at the Atrisco 1-yard line.

Running plays on third and fourth down were shut down.

The Atrisco sideline featured two former Valencia coaches. Ed Johnson was the VHS head coach in 2007 and 2008; Gerald Sanchez was a Valencia assistant.

Next up for the Jags is Farmington. Valencia beat the Scorpions 39-12 at VHS in the second round of last year’s playoffs, but that game might as well have been 100 years ago. Both lineups have changed considerably.

The Scorpions have already faced two of Valencia’s upcoming District 6-4A opponents. They won 54-0 over Gallup and lost 22-14 at Miyamura.

“I don’t know much about Farmington,” said Jolley after Thursday’s game. “I’ll probably watch film tonight. But coach (Gary) Bradley comes from a football family, so they’ll be well-coached.”

After the Farmington trip, there’s a much-needed bye week, followed by a the Oct. 12 district opener against Gallup at VHS.

“My mom lives in Washington, and when I call her to tell her how we did, I can’t make this stuff up,” said Jolley.

“I tell her that we moved the ball and the things that go wrong, and you can’t make it up.”


-- Email the author at jbrooks@news-bulletin.com.