By Arnie Leshin
How many errand plays did the Santa Fe High football team commit in Friday night’s opener against Robertson at Ivan Head Stadium?
Enough, too many or whatever way that head coach Andrew Martinez didn’t deserve in his third season.
The underdog Demons lost only 6-0, but their mistakes proved to be costly against a Cardinal program that has won three state championships and made 11 appearances in the title game over the last 14 years. But this was a game close enough to reverse the final outcome.
Except the home side did enough damage to itself that it took only one touchdown and a missed extra point to spoil its opener.
Let us count the ways. Missed snaps, missed blocks, fumbles, wrong personnel too many times, balls dropped that included one in the end zone, and they all contributed to a mess that helped the visitors.
Robertson lost some key players from last year’s team that lost for the fourth straight time in the state final. But the Cards always find ways to reload, except that this time they played just well enough to bus home with a victory.
Their one significant drive was a 10-play, 92-yard march that occurred with 8 and a half minutes remaining in the first half. Until then, it was a scoreless contest before a good Demon turnout.
Sophomore quarterback 5-foot-5 Matthew Gonzales concluded the long drive with a 7-yard touchdown toss to tight end Julius Vaughan. The PAT failed, but the visitors kept Santa Fe High out of the end zone, with plenty of help from the Demons.
They wasted a 36-yard drive when the shotgun snap went astray, causing sophomore quarterback Luc Jaramillo to fumble it in his hast to recover it. This was the first of six Demon fumbles and Robertson pounced on it at its own 40.
Then there was the one in the fourth quarter when Jaramillo took the team to the Cardinal 33, and then had a pass intercepted by Gonzales, the quarterback who was given the position originally meant for senior Andrew Padilla. On his team’s final drive, Gonzales sped 25 yards to pick up a pair of first downs that ran down the remaining 5:23.
He handled the position well and also did his part as a cornerback on defense.
And there was no doubt Santa Fe High was its own worse enemy.
On its second drive of the game, Jaramillo found a wide-open Zach Martinez in the end zone. The pass was on target, but Martinez bobbled the ball, was hit by Card linebacker Santiago Gonzales and linebacker Isaiah Estrada recovered the fumble.
Then there was yet another bad time in the fourth quarter when the Demons got to the Robertson 3. Two of the next three plays brought fumbles recovered by Santa Fe, but an illegal Demon substitution pushed the ball back to the 10.
Then the drive failed when Jaramillo couldn’t hold on to another poor snap, fumbled it, recovered it on the Robertson 14 on fourth down. Jaramillo did run the ball for 70 yards and passed for 68.
The total offense amounted to 156 yards. Jaramillomoved the team several times with a chance to score, but it was always foiled by mistakes. The Cardinals, who had 132 total yards, made few miscues, only made two threats inside the Demon 20, while Santa Fe High moved the ball into Robertson territory six times.
The next two games are also at Ivan Head against Moriarty and Espanola Valley. The Pintos lost 25-6 to West Las Vegas Friday night and the Sundevils fell 21-6 to Los Alamos.
The Demons don’t hit the road until they travel up to defending state champion Taos on Sept. 13, with the Tigers turning back visiting St. Michael’s, 33-19, Friday night.
The Horsemen fell behind early, with Taos scoring a pair of first-quarter touchdowns and leading 27-7 at halftime. It scored on each on its first three possessions, and had a fourth one overturned. Then the Horsemen made it into the end zone in the second quarter.
It was a tough opener for St. Michael’s, one in which its defense couldn’t contain the Tigers, fell behind, and then trimmed the halftime deficit behind the play of sophomore quarterback Lucas Coriz. He made mistakes, but he also made enough plays to score once each in the third and fourth quarter only to have both extra points fail.
And the Horsemen defense played much better in the second half, keeping Taos scoreless in the third quarter before giving up a TD in the final quarter, and it, too, missed the point-after.
But St. Michael’s didn’t quit after a poor start. It made it a two possession game twice in the second half, and had three chances at making it a one possession game when it still had a chance.
As for Coriz, he passed for 145 yards and a touchdown while running the ball for a team-high 95 yards and two TDs. But he was also 8-for-24 through the air and finished the first half by misfiring on eight of his last nine tries.
Meanwhile, the talented Tigers ran up 426 yards of total offense. Their biggest lead was 33-13 until Coriz scored from 2 yards out on the fourth quarter fourth down with only 2 seconds left.
St. Michael’s is home for three straight afternoon games, all with 1:30 scheduled kick offs. It gets visits from Portales, Bloomfield and Capital beforeplaying at Santa Fe High on Sept. 27. Bloomfield, which lost to Taos in the state championship, dominated Raton 56-14, and Portales is at Albuquerque Hope Christian Saturday afternoon.
And Capital, a 5A program had its way with 3A Crownpoint, scoring once in the first quarter and adding a two-point conversion, but in the second quarter the Jaguars piled up 33 more points and led 41-0 at the half. In the third quarter they scored again and again relied on the two-point conversion, and added a TD in the last quarter.
It was a mixture of a balanced offense and stout defense before the home crowd.
In other games, Shiprock edged Pojoaque Valley, 30-27 and Gallup disposed of Bernalillo, 26-6.