Tigers dominate Eagles in the 60th Valencia Bowl, 40-0


The outcome of last Friday’s 60th Valencia Bowl must have left both coaching staffs with question.

For the Los Lunas High football team, after shutting out Belen 40-0 on the Eagles’ home field, the question might have to do with how far the Tigers can go this year, and how high the ceiling is for the season.

Jason W. Brooks-News-Bulletin photo: Los Lunas quarterback Chris Wisneski pitches the ball away as Belen’s Stetson Schutte, center, and Joseph Lash close in. The Tigers dominated the 60th Valencia Bowl game, beating Belen, 40-0, and both teams host District 6-4A games at 7 p.m. Friday.

For Belen, the question might be why things went so poorly in Friday’s game, and how the Eagles can regroup and still place highly in District 6-4A and make the state playoffs.

Los Lunas improved to 6-0 overall and 1-0 in district by pummeling their oldest rivals. Belen fumbled six times, losing three, and the Tigers used their excellent field position to stake a 26-0 halftime lead. They held the Eagles (4-2, 0-1) to 42 rushing yards and minus-3 passing yards.

“Our guys not only played hard,” said the Tigers’ third-year coach, Jeremy Newton. “They also forced turnovers, and capitalized on those. We have a bunch of great kids.”

Friday, rain cleared out in time for the 60th annual game.

The Tigers, who host Grants for a 7 p.m. game this Friday, should have the inside track to grabbing their first district title since 1992.

The Tiger offense took a while to find its stride, as its running game was hit-and-miss at first, but the passing of Chris Wisneski seemed to open things up.

“They were stacking the box against the run,” said Newton. “So we were hoping the winds would die down, so we could throw and open it up.”

Isaac Parra scored on a 2-yard plunge in the first quarter. In the second period, the Tigers scored on a touchdown passes from Wisneski to Jalen Chavez (27 yards) and Jacob Holland (6 yards) and a 2-yard dive by Darron Gallegos.

Wisneski threw to Preston Schollander and Chavez ran it in from 42 yards out for the Tigers’ second-half scoring. The final score led to a running clock, per the mercy rule.

Belen’s offense could do almost nothing, and had only four first downs to go with their four turnovers. After BHS coach John Lerma sent senior Eliseo Aguirre out to replace sophomore Chris Peralta at quarterback in the fourth quarter, the Eagle drive stalled, and rather than go for the first down, the Eagles punted for the eighth time in the game.

Newton had so much confidence in the ability of his team, he went for it on fourth down with the ball on the Tiger 36, and though the Eagles stopped the Tigers on downs, the Belen offense couldn’t move the ball at all. Los Lunas’ dominance would show more and more as the game went along.

Belen still leads in the all-time series, 37-23-1.

Chavez had 107 yards on 10 carries to lead the Tigers. Wisneski had 49 rushing yards and was 6-of-9 passing for 92 yards with no interceptions and two touchdowns.

Wyatt Robinson led the Eagles with 19 rushing yards. Several Eagle players went down with injuries; senior wide receiver Zach Martin appeared to have an ankle injury, and was in street clothes during the second half.

The Eagles host Gallup at 7 p.m. Friday. The Bengals (2-4, 0-1) lost at Valencia High on Friday, 30-15, giving up 370 rushing yards to the Jaguars and three touchdowns in a span of three minutes in the fourth quarter, and only rushed for 32 yards. Valencia intercepted four passes and recovered three GHS fumbles, and there were a combined 24 penalties called, totaling 204 yards.

However, the Bengals did complete 11 passes for 193 yards.

The Tigers host Grants, which won at home Friday over Miyamura, 36-18. The Pirates (4-2, 1-0) who gave the Tigers a fight in a 13-6 LLHS win a year ago, do enough things well to concern Newton.

“They have a solid quarterback, who can throw,” said Newton. “And a good running back.”

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