Tigers smash Patriots; will host Jaguars next week


There was no element of Thursday’s District 6-4A game that was not dominated by the Los Lunas High football team.

The Tigers ran over, through and around the Miyamura Patriots and crushed their district opponent, winning 58-8 by mercy rule in a game that ended midway through the third quarter.

Jason W. Brooks-News-Bulletin photo: Los Lunas junior Jacob Holland dives into the end zone for one of his two touchdowns in Thursday’s District 6-4A game against Miyamura. The Tigers blazed past the Patriots for a 58-8 win, and play their 7 p.m. regular-season finale against the Valencia Jaguars on Friday, Nov. 9.

With so much talent and so many lopsided scores this season, the only really big question for the Tigers (9-0 overall, 4-0 in 6-4A) is how far they can go, and if they can keep their heads and continue playing outstanding football.

They’ll get their next chance on Friday, Nov. 9 with a home game against Valencia High that will end the regular season.

“It’s all about staying humble,” said Tiger junior tailback Jalen Chavez, who had 69 rushing yards, and scored a touchdown Thursday. “Coaches stress that we can’t get selfish. We have to stay a team, and keep the team’s goals higher.”

The Tigers took away everything Miyamura likes to do. After the Patriots received the opening kickoff at Willie Chavez Field, quarterback Zack Shank was sacked twice on the first series, and the Tigers took over in great field position.

LLHS scored on every possession of the game but one, and the defense smothered Shank, with the secondary and the defensive line each frustrating the Patriots’ pass-happy offense.

Miyamura finished with minus-32 rushing yards, and Shank was 3-of-11 with an interception for 65 yards, throwing one touchdown pass.

Los Lunas threw the ball more than usual, with quarterback Chris Wisneski nearly flawless. He was 10-of-14 for 182 yards and no picks, throwing two TD passes to Jacob Holland and one to Chris Sanchez.

The defense was so powerful, it generated points for LLHS in two ways in the Tigers’ 30-point second quarter. Defensive end Greg Wortman leaped and pulled a screen pass out of the air, waltzing into the end zone from eight yards out, and Shank was called for intentional grounding in the end zone on another play, leading to a safety.

The Tiger defense has only allowed 52 points this year, and Thursday’s win was the team’s sixth win by 35 points or more.

“Guys came out tonight to do a job,” said LLHS coach Jeremy Newton. “Sometimes, the whole D-line was getting there. It’s great to see.”

Darron Gallegos, who had 46 of the Tigers’ 193 rushing yards, had two touchdowns as well. The Tigers ended the game by taking the second-half kickoff and going 59 yards in nine plays with reserve players. All nine plays were runs, with Tyler Dykstra pushing his way in from 11 yards out for the final touchdown.

Collin Keeton made all eight of his extra-point kicks.

The only lapse for the Tigers was a second-quarter drive in which Shank made his only three completions, the last for a touchdown, and Newton said it was a matter of getting assignments sorted out.

Newton said linebacker/running back Brandon Casias is no longer on the team, and declined to say why.

A seeding committee will meet Saturday, Nov. 10, to seed 12 teams for the Class 4A playoffs, and if the Tigers beat Valencia, there’s a strong likelihood Los Lunas will get one of the top four seeds and a first-round bye.

LLHS can clinch its first district championship since 1992 with a win next Friday.

Newton said preparation for Valencia, which beat the Tigers 13-7 last season, won’t be any different from any other week.

“It’s zero-zero at the start of next week’s game,” said Newton. “Fortunately, we have great leadership on this team.”

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