Lucas Coriz looked no worse for the wear as he walked off the grass of the Christian Brothers Athletic Complex on Saturday afternoon.
No limp, no assists from teammates in getting up the hill and back to the locker room.
Check back Sunday when all his hard work is on display from the bumps and bruises he took in a 54-22 loss to visiting Bloomfield. The St. Michael’s quarterback was hit more than two dozen times and sacked a career-high 13 times in the nondistrict loss to the Bobcats.
“Sometimes I forget he’s only a sophomore,” said Horsemen head coach Joey Fernandez. “We need to do a better job taking care of him and not having him spend so much time under a pile, you know? We need him healthy but, yeah, he’s on the field all the time.”
Also a starter on defense, the strapping 6-foot-3 underclassman had the Bobcats (3-0) in his face the entire game. When he wasn’t getting sacked, he was being flushed from the pocket and hurrying throws on timing routes with little to no timing involved. The majority of his pass attempts were improvised to second or third options, often with him under duress.
Coriz finished 9-for-28 for 160 yards and two touchdowns but fumbled on consecutive offensive plays in the second quarter. He was also picked off three times. His final throw of the first half was returned 41 yards for a touchdown with no time left, part of a Bloomfield explosion in which the Bobcats erased an early 13-0 deficit by scoring 47 unanswered points.
It was 40-13 at halftime and 54-15 late in the third quarter. After the initial three minutes of the opening quarter where Coriz had touchdown passes of 26 yards to Lucas Montoya and 5 yards to Kennis Romero, Bloomfield dominated the game with speed on offense and unrelenting pressure from its defensive front.
Bloomfield head coach Bob Allcorn lauded his defense, saying the team’s exhausting road trip from the Four Corners area Saturday morning helped contribute to his team’s slow start.
“Those kinds of starts make me feel old, just like those bus trips do,” he said, explaining that the team arrived in Santa Fe almost an hour later than it wanted to thanks to an emergency bathroom break for one of the coaches and a problem with a credit card when trying to pay for the team’s breakfast.
“I think the bus trips are actually kind of fun because we’re together as a team and getting out on the road,” said Bloomfield quarterback Vincent Marquez.
What Bloomfield’s defense didn’t do to Coriz, Marquez did to the St. Michael’s secondary. He passed for 280 yards and four touchdowns; 242 of those yards and three of the touchdowns, plus two more scores on the ground coming in the first half. Operating the Bobcats’ relentless no-huddle spread formation with four- and five-receiver sets, he shredded the Horsemen with accurate intermediate passes peppered with the occasional delayed handoff.
The Bobcats finished with 198 yards rushing, getting 84 from Kenyon Mosley and 75 from J.T. Seitzinger. Seitzinger opened the scoring in the second half with a 55-yard touchdown run that infuriated the Horsemen coaching staff.
“We just have to get tougher,” Fernandez said. “We’ve got a lot of guys out [with injury] and we’re so thin in some positions. We need guys to step up in those spots and make plays, and right now they’re not really doing that.”
The Horsemen had an aggregate total of six yards rushing. Coriz rattled off a 65-yard run on his first carry but was sacked nine times before the end of the first half and had minus-10 yards on the ground by halftime. His 13 sacks were for a combined 99 yards in negative yardage, a true testament to how aggressive the Bloomfield defense was up front.
It’s the third straight double-digit loss for the Horsemen to start the season. All of them have come against the top three teams in this week’s Class 4A poll, the last two coming against the two teams many see as strong candidates for a legitimate title shot (Portales and Bloomfield).
Allcorn admits his team does have some areas to improve upon, namely turnovers. Marquez was intercepted four times, the last of which was returned 41 yards to the house by St. Michael’s defensive back Rico Gurule in the final three minutes of the fourth quarter.
“There are some things we need to clean up, sure, but our defense was outstanding and [Marquez] did some great things aside from the turnovers,” Allcorn said.
Marquez finished 17-for-33 through the air. His favorite target was senior Noah Gurule, with whom he connected on nine passes for 99 yards and two scores.
Arguably the most important pass he threw was a 29-yard strike to Bryce Perez on third-and-13 from midfield early in the first quarter. The Horsemen were up 13-0 at the time and hoping to force a punt. That play led to a 17-yard Marquez touchdown run two snaps later and, just like that, the flood gates were open.
The Bobcats broke it wide open by scoring 26 points in the final 6 minutes, 32 seconds of the second quarter.
“Probably one of the biggest plays of the entire game was that third down,” said Fernandez. “We stop them there and maybe we keep some kind of momentum and stay in this thing.”
Maybe, but the truth was painfully clear: There was no stopping the Bloomfield defense. The unit was constantly in the St. Michael’s backfield and, subsequently, in Coriz’s face.
“I’m sure he’s going to be feeling it [Sunday], but the fact is we needed to protect him more and never did,” Fernandez said, adding that the team’s brutal three-game stretch to open the season is starting to concern him.
“When I made this schedule two years ago I knew these teams were going to be good, but not this good,” he said. “These kids are 15, 16, 17 or 18 years old so, of course, I’m going to be worried about their confidence taking a hit. We just need to keep these kids believing and get back to work because it doesn’t get any easier.”
The Horsemen host Capital (1-2) next week but have a bye before heading to Ivan Head Stadium on Sept. 27 to meet Santa Fe High.