LLHS football takes to the air to stymie Pirates


Flexibility might be one of the most important attributes of the 2012-13 Los Lunas High football team and its coaching staff.

Jason W. Brooks-News-Bulletin photo: Los Lunas wide receiver Chris Sanchez speeds past Grants defenders in Friday’s District 6-4A game on one of his three touchdown receptions. The Tigers blazed past the Pirates for a 50-0 win, and play a 7 p.m. district game Thursday in Gallup against Gallup High.

In Friday’s 50-0 win over Grants, the Tigers were flexible enough on offense to adjust to a Grants defense geared to stopping the run. Four touchdown passes and 285 passing yards later, the Tigers can comfortably say they took what the defense would give them.

The Tigers improved to 7-0 overall and 2-0 in District 6-4A with the win. They are ranked second in the MaxPreps.com Class 4A power rankings, and have outscored their opponents 272-44 with three shutouts.

Thursday, the Tigers will travel to take on the host Gallup Bengals at Public School Stadium in a 7 p.m. district contest.

“They put seven on the line to stop the run, and we took advantage,” said Los Lunas coach Jeremy Newton regarding the win over Grants.

The Tigers led 29-0 at the half, and ended the game by mercy rule late in the third quarter on an interception returned for a touchdown by Jacob Holland.

The Tigers rushed for 113 yards as a team, but 38 of that was on a 38-yard, first-half touchdown run by Jalen Chavez. All of the other scoring, save for Holland’s game-ending return, was from senior quarterback Chris Wisneski’s four touchdown passes.

Wisneski completed 8-of-15 passes, with half of the completions going for scores. Junior wide receiver Chris Sanchez only caught three passes, but they were touchdown catches of 34, 55 and 60 yards.

On the last one, a 60-yarder in the third quarter, Sanchez caught a pass in the middle of the Pirate secondary, and accelerated to pull away from defenders as if he were an F-14, about to take off.

“Chris is a special athlete,” said Newton regarding Sanchez. “We try to get him the ball as much as we can.”

The Tigers led 29-0 at the half. Wisneski threw to Chavez for 65 yards over the middle for a third-quarter score.

The stingy LLHS defense only allowed 114 rushing yards and just one pass completion by the Pirates (4-3, 1-1).

“Our defense was just doing its assignments, and making plays,” said Newton.

However, Los Lunas was penalized 10 times.

Holland’s interception return for a score put Los Lunas up 49-0 with 1:12 left in the third quarter. A 15-yard penalty, a call Newton did not agree with, resulted in kicker Collin Keeton having to make a 35-yard extra-point kick to end the game.

Gallup might pose more of a threat to the Tigers than it might seem on paper. One consideration is the fact the Bengals are playing at home, where Thursday night’s forecast is for temperatures in the high 20s and possibly windy conditions.

“The cold is just something that bothers you,” said Newton, a Minnesota native. “The ball is a little tougher to catch, and you might not be quite as willing to stick your nose in there and make a play.”

The Bengals (2-5, 0-2) seemed to have slow execution on both sides of the ball in last week’s 50-0 loss at Belen, but Newton said he admires the work of Gallup’s third-year coach, Cyle Balock.

“They’re well coached,” said Newton. “And it seems like teams are presenting things against us that we haven’t seen them do on film, so who knows? We just have to adjust.”

The Tigers play on a Thursday again when they host Miyamura on Nov. 1. Los Lunas ends the regular season with a Friday, Nov. 9 home game against Valencia High.

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