Los Lunas 26, Sandia 10
Los Lunas High School (3-0) beat 6A Sandia High School (1-2) in a 26-10 game which didn’t end until after 11 p.m.
The Tigers’ homecoming was almost spoiled by weather. The game, originally scheduled for 7 p.m., didn’t start until 8:45 p.m. due to a lightning delay. When it finally kicked off, the Tigers looked stiff against the bigger opponents from Sandia. Their offense couldn’t get a first down on their first two drives, going three-and-out on both series.
The Matadors struck first with a 32-yard field goal from senior Gabe Oherron-alex on Sandia’s second drive. However, the Tigers soon found their rhythm.
Senior quarterback Nick Gaerlan connected with junior wide receiver Andrue Garcia for a 44-yard gain. On the next play, senior running back Nick Tafoya rushed into the endzone for a 3-yard touchdown, giving the Tigers’ their first lead of the game.
“That’s what I love about this offense and this team,” said Los Lunas head coach Jeremy Maupin. “When we needed to throw the ball, we had some big throws. When we were trying to run the clock out in the fourth quarter, we were getting 20-yard chunks at a time.”
Sandia junior quarterback Junior Silva connected with senior wide receiver Deante Bernard for a 40-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Los Lunas struck back with a 33-yard touchdown pass when Gaerlan connected with junior Donald Thomas. Los Lunas led 13-10 at halftime and maintained that lead for the remainder of the game.
Gaerlan completed 16 of his 31 passes for 273 yards. However, it was the Tigers’ the defense who stole the show on Friday night. The Los Lunas defense combined for 11 sacks, several of which coming from sophomore defensive end Tyler Kiehne.
“We had an injury where we didn’t have a defensive end, so he got a lot more playing time,” said Coach Maupin. “He showed that he deserves every minute we give him.”
Next Friday, Los Lunas will host Roswell High School. The Tigers are perhaps playing their best football, and Coach Maupin believes the team will only continue to improve.
“I’m really excited about where our teams at,” said Coach Maupin. “We just need to make sure this isn’t our plateau. This is a mountain we’re climbing.”
Belen 14, Artesia 28
In a rematch of the 2017 5A state championship, the Belen Eagles traveled south to face Artesia, losing to the Bulldogs 28-14.
Belen (2-1) was tied with Artesia (1-2) in the first quarter. However, the Bulldogs pulled away in the second, leading the Eagles 21-7 at halftime.
“Our guys had a choice at halftime to hang their heads or step up,” Belen head coach Greg Henington said. “Leaders came out of their shell and spoke up.”
In the next half, the Eagles brought the game closer. At one point, they trailed by only a touchdown. Unfortunately, Artesia scored once again in the fourth quarter, putting the game just out of reach.
Senior running back Diego Casillas led the Eagles, rushing for 177 yards on 37 carries. Despite the loss, the coaching staff saw a lot of promise in the team’s development.
“We found our heart,” said Coach Henington. “Now it’s time to build off what we learned and take it to another level.”
Belen’s next game will be on the road when they face Highland (1-2) Sept. 14 at 7 p.m.
Valencia 22, Rio Grande 36
Valencia High School (2-1) traveled to Milne Stadium in Albuquerque to face Rio Grande (1-2). The Jaguars fell to the Ravens 36-22.
The game was the first victory for the Ravens since 2014. Valencia head coach Wes Shank felt the coaching staff could have done better. He also felt the team could improve on mental mistakes.
“Coaches did a poor job coaching,” said Coach Shank. “We had too many mental mistakes.”
Senior quarterback Andres Lucero completed 20 of his 28 passes for 223 yards and senior wide receiver finished with 176 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
Up next for Valencia is next Friday when they host Moriarty at 7 p.m.