Friday night lights are finally here.
Opening weekend for the prep football season began Thursday as Santa Fe Indian School opened play at home against Cuba. However, the rest of the North is set to kick off the season Friday. Most of the action this weekend resides in the North, and there are a few intriguing home openers to whet any football fan’s appetite.
Just a note: All games highlighted this week are on Friday. That will change next week.
Las Vegas Robertson at Santa Fe High
Game time: 7 p.m.
Overview: It’s a battle of an upstart 5A program against one of the powers in Class 3A, so the advantage should go to the bigger school, right? Not exactly. The Demons have won just two games over the past five seasons, and they still have a young nucleus of juniors and sophomores leading the way. On the other side is a Cardinals program that reloads and keeps chugging along. Robertson looks like it will settle on senior Antonio Padilla at quarterback, but head coach Leroy Gonzalez isn’t afraid of throwing a wrench in the Demons’ plan. Luc Jaramillo is a year older after an up-and-down freshman campaign, but he has talent surrounding him — even if it’s unproven.
The favorite: Robertson by 7
Why: The Cardinals are the four-time state champions, and that means a lot in this matchup. Still, the Demons won’t be a pushover.
Crownpoint at Capital
Game time: 7 p.m.
Overview: It’s another 5A-versus-3A matchup, but the odds weigh heavily in the Jaguars’ favor. If you haven’t heard his name over the past two seasons, you must be new to the area. So, get acquainted with Jaguars junior running back Luke Padilla, because his name will be heard early and often. However, Capital has a few more weapons, namely quarterback Dion Martinez and fellow running back Gio Munoz. The Eagles, who were 2-8 last year, will counter with its own running game that highlights quarterback Jesse Andis, who ran for a team-high 720 yards. He’ll be counted on to provide a dual threat to keep the Jaguars defense honest.
The favorite: Capital by 21
Why: The Jaguars are at a different level this year, but they better show it right out of the gate. The next few weeks are brutal (games against Deming, Lovington and St. Michael’s).
St. Michael’s at Taos
Game time: 7 p.m.
Overview: The Tigers are coming off a special season that saw them win their first state title, and they want to show they are ready to defend the 4A crown with a strong core of experienced seniors. Expect a slightly different style of offense that features the arm of senior QB Noah Armijo more, but Taos will try to establish the running game first. The Horsemen have the makings of a 3A contender once again, and have their own big-armed signal caller in Lucas Coriz. If he can get into a rhythm earlier, St. Michael’s will make this a game.
The favorite: Taos by 3
Why: Taos has slightly more experience returning, but never discount “Air Fernandez,” especially when he has plenty of offensive weapons.
Los Alamos at Española Valley
When: 7 p.m.
Overview: The Hilltoppers feel like this is the year they get over the hump and make the state playoffs. What better way to start that drive against their heated rivals from “The Valley.” This marks the debut of Sundevils head coach Delfin Quintana, who was the defensive coordinator last year but will take the reins of the offense this fall. Los Alamos will have to keep a close eye on who takes the snap at quarterback — senior Arlen Garcia (the runner) or sophomore Ollie Fell (the passer) — throughout the game. Española, meanwhile, has to contend with Los Alamos’ triple-option attack that has more weapons than in the past.
The favorite: Los Alamos by 28
Why: The Hilltoppers weren’t near as good last year, and they hammered the Sundevils, 57-12. Expect more of the same.