By Arnie Leshin
Andrew Martinez began his second season as Santa Fe High’s head football coach with patience. Now, as the teams head down the stretch, Martinez has renewed confidence in his Demons.
“I’ve got to be proud of these kids,” he said, “we got rid of that losing streak and we come to play every time. Now we have Los Alamos to worry about, and we’re prepared. No injuries, just confidence.”
This District 5-5A contest has been switched from Friday night at Ivan Head Stadium to Saturday afternoon, kickoff scheduled for 1 o’clock. As is
Albuquerque Del Norte at Capital Friday night, it’s the start of district play.
Up at Los Alamos last year, Santa Fe High nearly ended its long losing streak in an exciting game that it lost in the final minute.
The two programs are very familiar with each other. Even when they were in
separate districts, they have met up and played tight games.
All four of these district teams enter the weekend with losing streaks, the Hilltoppers, Demons, and Del Norte with two in a row, and the Jaguars having dropped their last five and are 1-6-1 overall. Los Alamos is 4-3, Santa Fe High 2-5, and Del Norte 1-6.
No matter, the district winner will automatically get a berth in the state tournament, and it’s a district that will get only its champion in. When Capital was in 2-4A and Espanola Valley won its only district title with its lone winning season, the Jags also received an invite after they, too, had an impressive campaign.
And with the Sundevils playing host to Farmington, they were embarrassingly routed while Capital traveled to Roswell Goddard and came thisclose to a stunning upset, losing by a single point when its kicking game failed several times.
While Del Norte has had its problems, the Jaguars are finally healthy and anxious to win again. They began by routing visiting Pojoaque Valley in the opener and then played a tie home game with Deming. Then came the run of defeats.
But all four teams are 0-0 in districts. Its wide open, with the Hilltoppers a step ahead because they have the lone winning record. They have knocked off the mediocre teams and lost handily to the likes of unbeatens Taos, Albuquerque Hope Christian, and Valencia.
After some tough setbacks, the Demons headed to Espanola and its 35-game losing streak ended on a game-ending field goal. Two games later, they stunned previously undefeated Bernalillo at home.
So it now becomes an afternoon contest, with the weather forecast calling for a sunny day and temperatures in the low 60s.
Friday night will also have Bernalillo at Pojoaque and Espanola at Grants. Bernalillo and Grants are in the same district as Taos and vying for the runner-up spot. The No.1 ranked Tigers nipped Grants, 20-19, on the road, and travel to Bernalillo for the regular-season closer.