WEB EXCLUSIVE: Game of the Week — Los Lunas roars to win over Valencia


Both Los Lunas and Belen were winners Friday night, the final night of regular season play – but the Eagles took home the ultimate prize for the season.

Kenn Rodriguez-News-Bulletin photo: LOS LUNAS' JALEN CHAVEZ (5) races past Valencia lineman Mario Avery during his first quarter interception return for a touchdown Friday night at Valencia High School. The Tigers beat the Jaguars 49-21 Friday to claim second place in district.

Needing to win by 10 or more points, the Tigers traveled to Tomé and did more than that, beating Valencia 49-21 Friday night. But No. 4 Los Lunas (8-2, 4-1) also needed host Grants to beat No. 2 Belen Friday night to have a chance of winning the District 6-4A title

The Pirates teased the Tigers’ faithful by taking a 14-6 lead early but were out-scored and out-played by the Eagles, who won 47-22 to claim the league championship.

All three Valencia County teams finished with identical 4-1 district records, but Belen (8-2, 4-1) claimed the title and an automatic bid to the post-season playoffs by virtue of having a plus-6 advantage over Los Lunas in the point differential tie-breaker. Valencia, which finishes with a negative-6 in the point differential, finishes third in district.

All three team should receive bids to the Class 4A State Playoffs, which begin next Friday. Check www.news-bulletin.com for seedings Saturday night and coache’s reactions on Sunday.

Tigers tame Jags to take Pride of Jungle trophy

Senior Jalen Chavez accounted for the Tigers’ first three touchdowns as Los Lunas (8-2, 4-1)) scored 35 unanswered points in the first half against the Jaguars at Valencia High School.

LLHS ran out to an early lead in winning the Pride of the Jungle traveling trophy from VHS, which entered the week undefeated in District 6-4A and ranked No. 7 by maxpreps.com and hoping to win a second district title in three years.

Kenn Rodriguez-News-Bulletin photo: JOSH BURBANK (8) of Valencia High is caught by Los Lunas defenders Ryan Abeita (32) and Chad Murphy (24) during the Tigers' 49-21 win over the Jaguars Friday night.

Chavez started the scoring with a 27-yard interception return for a touchdown then ran for an 18- and a 26-yard touchdown run to put the Tigers up 21-0 at the end of the first quarter.

“They came out and played the way they practices all week,” said LLHS coach Duane Toliver. “They were intense all week and it showed in that first half. We had to stop the run and that’s what we preached all week. We wanted to give them different looks.”

Senior quarterback Darron Gallegos then added a pair of touchdowns in the second quarter – one on the ground the other in the air to senior receiver Jacob Holland as Los Lunas ran out to a 35-0 halftime lead after taking advantage of an interception and a fumble in the opening quarter.

“This is our first game where we had everyone back and we just came out hot,” said Gallegos. “We know that this is playoff time and we just need to keep rolling. It’s our senior season and it’s our last shot for winning anything.

“We needed to come out here and prove to everyone that we’re still the real deal,” he said.

Valencia (6-4, 4-1) showed some life in the third quarter with a 22-yard touchdown run by junior Nate Nash to open the second half. But Gallegos’ second touchdown to Holland pass, a 13-yard strike eight minutes into the second half, gave Los Lunas a 42-7 lead.

A touchdown pass from Garrett Gibson to junior Tyler McClarran followed immediately by an interception for a touchdown by senior Joe Heneghan ignited the Jags home crowd, cutting the lead to 42-21 with 6:12 left in the third quarter.

Kenn Rodriguez-News-Bulletin photo: LLHS COACH DUANE TOLIVER, left, holds the Pride of the Jungle traveling trophy while senior Jalen Chavez addresses the Tigers after their 49-21 win over Valencia Friday night.

But after a 2-yard touchdown run by Garcia to end the third quarter, Los Lunas sophomore Thomas Volk, secured the win for the Tigers with an interception and the Tigers then ran out the clock on a long drive.

“We had some mistakes early and you cant do that against a team like Los Lunas,” said Valencia coach Kevin Jolley. “But the kids showed some fight in the second half. I was happy with what they showed in the second half.”

CORRECTION: Valencia High played Aztec in the Class 4A Semifinals in 2011, not the championship game as previously reported.