By Arnie Leshin
Too late to redo the football schedule. Too late to replay the first two games.
That’s the present situation for St. Michael’s. It took to the road for its Friday night opener and had to face defending state 4A champion Taos. The ride home was a losing one as the Tigers roared 33-19.
Saturday afternoon the Horsemen were home at the Christian Brothers Athletic Complex and had to line up against 4A leader Portales, which, despite incredibly hot afternoon conditions in Albuquerque last Saturday, wiped away the sweat to cool off Hope Christian.
That was played on Milne Stadium’s natural surface. At St. Michael’s, it was a welcome sight for the Rams as they took the field on the FieldTurf rug, and had no sweat rolling over the Horsemen, 49-6.
Now comes the often-heard words, it doesn’t get any easier, for in this case it’s 4A Bloomfield, which just happened to lose to Taos in the state final, coming to Santa Fe. Home field advantage? Not if St. Michael’s doesn’t make a quick recovery.
After that, the Horsemen are home for the third straight week when cross-town rival Capital takes the short ride across town. The Jaguars are currently 1-1. Following that will be a short Horsemen drive up Siringo Road to take on neighboring rival Santa Fe High. The Demons are now at 1-1.
Then it’s back home again when Cathedral heads north from El Paso to meet up with St. Michael’s. It is presently 0-1. And then comes the stretch run that involves District 2-3A, when more should be learned about the Horsemen when they are at Santa Fe Indian School (1-1), home to 2-0 West Las Vegas, at 2-0 Robertson, and home to Raton (1-1).They should at least go 2-2 here, maybe even 3-1.
But it’s a disappointing poor start for head coach Joey Fernandez’ team. He is in his 18th season coaching his alma mater, was an assistant for a decade before that, and is not used to seeing his team going down like this.
It didn’t look this way on his team’s initial drive. Sophomore quarterback Lucas Coriz found senior Kennis Romero wide open for an apparent 60-yard touchdown, except it was nullified by a holding call on the Horsemen. Two plays later, Romero again himself about 10 yards behind the defense, but this time Coriz didn’t see the 5-foot-8 Romero, so he threw a deep ball to junior Joaquin Armijo, but the pass went through his hands.
Despite these two chances that fell short, it didn’t look all that bad when with the Rams up 14-0, Coriz and Romero hooked up again late in the first quarter and it resulted into a 70-yard touchdown connection, but the extra-point kick was off the mark.
It looked like good news again for the home fans when the St. Michael’s defense got the ball back on the ensuing possession. So Coriz again fired the deep pass downfield, but Portales safety Jayden Killette intercepted it. That set up a third Rams’ TD, and then it got out of hand.
The Rams never looked back as they piled up 541 total yards on offense. Quarterback Baylor Diaz threw for 182 yards and also ran 78 yards into the end zone.
Senior running back Romero Gbassagee (it was a good day for family name Romero of the Horsemen and given name Romero of the Rams) carried the ball only 13 times, but racked up 225 yards and scored four touchdowns. He
began the scoring on a 78-yard run with 6:24 left in the opening quarter.
That made it only 7-0 and St. Michael’s was still in the ballgame. But after it scored its first and only touchdown, it was Portales’ day in the sun on a surface that can increase temperatures by several degrees.
Said Fernandez: “We had opportunities to stop them. “On two of their long runs, we had them tackled, but he (Obassagee) just broke out of them. Then we had a touchdown that we tipped down, but their guy catches it. We had another where we had receivers in one area, and their guy picks it off.”
He added that it was lack of effort, guys not wanting to get the play done, and for as bad as we played, we were still in it for the first half.
Well, not by checking out the 28-6 deficit score. The Rams had 14 points in each of the two quarters, added 14 more in the third, and tacked on 7 in the final quarter.