By Arnie Leshin
The sites are set for Saturday afternoon‘s annual state high school football championships, with all kickoffs scheduled for 1 o’clock.
Only the 2A final is history, with undefeated top-seed Jal winning its first title since 1999 in hitting the road and prevailing 41-21 at No. 2 seed Texico last Friday night.
Remaining is 3A matching 2nd-seeded Ruidoso at No. 4 St. Michael’s played at the One-Side Complex, while in 4A, No. 1 seed Silver travels to No. 2 Bloomfield, in 5A, it’s top-seed Artesia versus 3rd-seeded Piedra VIsta, the host at Farmington Hutchinson Stadium, and in 6A, the neutral field is Albuquerque Wilson Stadium when top-seed Rio Rancho Cleveland faces No. 2 seed Albuquerque La Cueva.
One-Side Complex is a familiar site, but not a pleasant one. It has stands only on one side and it usually seats both teams alongside one another. The worst times for this has been against fierce district rival Robertson, and words were often passed along between these fans.
On the other side of the complex has little seating. There is usually one small bleachers that can seat perhaps 20-30, and sometimes the host school would include 2-3 more stands if necessary. Ruidoso has played there before and this included a four-overtime playoff game it won as the skies began to darken.
For the Horsemen, this will be following up the 14-7 semifinal win last Friday night at top-seeded Socorro’s Warriors, and now comes a second straight Warriors foe, with Ruidoso at 12-1, and with just a game two 26-14 loss at Portales followed by a current 11-game win streak that included last Saturday afternoon’s 21-20 triumph up at 6th-seeded Raton. St. Michael’s lone setback was 28-20 against visiting Robertson, and they have presently won five in a row.
In the other semis, 6A’s No. 1 seed Rio Rancho Cleveland poured it on in second half to romp over 6th-seeded Albuquerque Volcano Vista at Albuquerque Nusenda Stadium, and second-seeded Albuquerque La Cueva in a tight tussle, made it past host Las Cruces Centennial, the 3rd-seed, at Field of Dreams Saturday night.
In 4A, it was top seed Silver ousting No. 4 Lovington, 27-7, which lost its first four games and finished at 5-6 overtime. The Wildcats are second in state football championships behind only Artesia, while the top-seeded Colts now head for 2nd-seeded Bloomfield in the title tilt.
And in 5A is No. 1 Artesia and it meets up with 3rd-seeded host Piedra Vista at Farmington’s Hutchinson Stadium.
But the St. Michael’s One-Side is just that, one-side, and for a state football championship game, it’s not the place for Ruidoso to spend its afternoon nor even the Horsemen.
There was word that there was hope to switch the 3A site to Santa Fe High or Capital, and that was learned Monday morning. Neither school consented to allow its home field to be used, but St. Michael’s said it would notify the New Mexico Activities Association if things changed.