With home field advantage and a previous triumph, Las Vegas Robertson has the edge over Ruidoso in Saturday afternoon’s state 4A football championship, with kickoff scheduled for 1:30
Only state title game that doesn’t pair the top two seeds
By ARNIE LESHIN, Santa Fe Today
It’s been a up-and-down football season for Ruidoso. Three defeats that included a setback against Las Vegas Robertson, but that’s all behind it as it prepares for Saturday afternoon’s state 4A championship at Robertson.
There’s no doubt that the 4th seeded Warriors are the underdog. The 3rd seeded Cardinals are 11-1, with the loss coming at home against St. Michael’s, and most important, they have home field advantage and figure to pack the stands.
They have won three state titles, the last coming in 2013. The following year, it was Ruidoso hoisting the blue trophy for its sixth championship.
Except that it won three of them way back, like in 1950, 1955 and 1957, with all three teams going undefeated. After that, it had a long wait before winning state in 1985 and 2002.
The Warriors had a fairly tough schedule. They were routed at 5A Lovington, 60-36, lost 42-28 at Robertson, and took a 24-15 setback at Portales, which was ranked No. 2 and lost 20-14 at Robertson in last week’s semifinals. The same day, Ruiodso turned back 8rd seeded Hatch Valley at home, 30-6.
The Warriors came off a first-round bye to defeat 5th seeded Moriarty, 28-20. The Cardinals also had a bye before nipping cross-town rival West Las Vegas, 14-13.
Now it comes down to the present, the 1:30 kickoff on a day that forecasts plenty of sun and a high of 55 degrees.
It is also the high school finale for Robertson senior quarterback Arjay Ortiz. He has been contained several times this season, but his impressive showing outweighed this. He simply performed his pass and run show with outstanding statistics.
Threw the air, he completed 75 of 165 throws for 1,424 yards and 16 touchdowns. He was intercepted only three times. Along the ground, he carried 165 times for 1,694 yards and 25 TDs. His grand total yards come to 3,118, and then tack on 41 touchdowns.
Behind him, the Cards scored 436 points while allowing 160. He was backed by 5-8, 160 sophomore Antonio Padilla. He ran the ball 86 times for 711 yards and 10 touchdowns. He caught 36 of Oritz’ passes for 807 yards and scored nine times. His total yards have been 1,518.
That has been the one-punch on offense.
As for the Robertson schedule, it was a big second half for St. Michael’s in the loss at home, WLV was defeated twice, but the playoff win was tighter than expected. There was also a surprising 13-12 triumph over 3A Estancia in the opener.
But wins against Bernalillo, Santa Fe Indian School, Pojoaque Valley, Cobre and 3A Santa Rosa were no problem. It put 267 points on the scoreboard for Robertson and only 14 scored against it. Since the 33-27 setback to St. Michael’s, it has won four-straight.
Ruidoso also has a one-two punch on offense. At quarterback is 6-3, 175 senior Brennan Stewart and he has passed for 1,792 and 15 touchdowns on 151 of 243 attempts. He has been intercepted eight times. Running the ball, he has scored 11 times by rushing 154 times for 1,174 yards.
His sidekick has been 5-8, 175 sophomore Isaiah Otero. He scored 19 times along the ground with 240 tugs for 1,563 yards. He also connected on 18 of 86 passes. He brought in 23 throws for 308 yards and scored three times.
Ruidoso can also count on 5-7, 140 junior Gabriel Dorame. He has been the primary target by making 88 catches for 608 yards and seven touchdowns.
The Warriors have put together 394 points and have yielded 278. Through the years, they have played the Cardinals eight times, winning at home three times and losing five times in Las Vegas. This is the first time these schools have met in the state finals, and this is the only state football championship game this season that didn’t pair the top two seeds.