Eagles earn rematch with top seed


Senior tailback Xavy Armijo ducked to the left, then right, and leaned forward to the 1-yard line early in the first quarter of Belen’s 40-6 Class 4A quarterfinal demolishing of Deming Friday night on the Eagles’ home field.

Mike Stearns-News-Bulletin photo: Belen quarterback Chris Peralta heads upfield in Friday’s 40-6 state quarterfinal win over Deming. The No. 4-seeded Eagles take on top-seeded Goddard at 7 p.m., Friday, at the Wool Bowl in Roswell.

The Wildcats didn’t have an answer for Armijo on the next play, nor throughout the night for that matter, as the elusive back found paydirt for Belen’s first score.

Armijo rolled up 213 yards on 28 carries and scored the first two touchdowns to put Belen up 14-0, adding a 7-yard TD jaunt as the Eagles took control early.

Belen will travel to Roswell to take on top-seed Goddard in a Class 4A semifinal on Friday night. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. at the Wool Bowl.

Los Lunas will visit Aztec on Saturday in the other semifinal. The winners will meet next weekend for the state title at a time and place to be determined after this week’s results are final.

“Goddard has a rich tradition,” said Belen coach John Lerma. “They are used to being in this situation. We are looking forward to the game. It will be a big challenge for us.”

Their closest 4A game came in week four of the regular season when Belen visited. The Eagles kept the game close for three quarters before falling, 27-7.

In the September contest, Belen lost quarterback Nick Kurtz for the rest of the season, due to a head injury, and Goddard held the Eagles to 213 yards on the ground. Rocket QB Anthony Ornelas ran for 168 yards and was 3-8 passing for 79 yards with two interceptions and a 50-yard touchdown pass to Josh Quiroz.

Belen will be short at least one major contributor. Isaac Valdez was ejected from the Deming contest during the third quarter. An official told Lerma that Valdez threw a punch.

The linebacker/tight end will have to sit out one game, according to New Mexico Activities Association rules.

It will be a different Eagle team that Goddard faces on Friday night with sophomore Chris Peralta now under center. The quick quarterback gives Belen a solid option-type attack with Armijo and Peralta providing the speed and Wyatt Robinson pounding the ball for tough yards.

Peralta was key in the Deming win, running for two touchdowns and throwing for another. Peralta got his first touchdown with 4:31 left in the first half on a 1-yard run.

Deming responded with a two-play drive that only took 24 seconds. Tailback Ismail Garrett ripped off a 76-yard run to the Belen 1-yard line. Quarterback David Padron ran it in on the next play to make the halftime score 20-6.

Wyatt Robinson scored on a 5-yard run to make it 27-6, before Peralta ran it in from the Deming 20-yard line to make it 34-6.

Peralta found Dylan Greenlee for a 12-yard touchdown pass midway through the fourth quarter for the final score of the evening. The extra point was missed, but Belen solidified the win, 40-6.

Peralta ran for 118 yards on 18 carries and completed 2-of-3 passes for 20 yards. Wyatt Robinson carried the ball for 78 yards on 16 carries.

The Eagle defense created five turnovers, as Stetson Schutte had two interceptions, Trenton Barba had an interception and a fumble recovery, and Greenlee recovered a fumble.

A Barba pick came with Belen only up 20-6 and Deming driving for a score. He picked off the pass at the Eagle 7-yard line and returned it to the BHS 45, denying the Wildcats from closing the gap to one score.

“Trent has been a steady player for us all year,” said Lerma. “That was a tremendous interception.”

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