Nate Pino, second-year Rams football coach.

The Class 6A state football tournament starts this week with first-round games, and to nobody’s surprise, the Cleveland Storm received the No. 1 seed for state and a bye in the opening round.

The other three teams with a bye this week are No. 2 Centennial (7-2), No. 3 La Cueva (7-3) and No. 4 Sandia (8-2).

One of the first-round games has the No. 5 Rams at home Friday at 7 p.m. to meet No. 12 West Mesa (6-4), whose starting quarterback is former Cleveland football and basketball standout Eiljah Brody – if he hadn’t followed his father, Landrick Brody, to WMHS when he got the head coaching job, the Rams would have been chasing him around instead of Hatch.

“We’ve got to contain Brody,” said Rams coach Nate Pino. “Everything goes through him; his ability to run can create problems.”

Pino said he’s also concerned offensively: “They bring pressure on defense; we have to be sound up front.”

The Rams are 11-1 all-time vs. The Mustangs, who were in the same district as RRHS from 2000-09 and again in 2018-19. The Rams won the last meeting, 61-7, at Community Stadium in 2018 and 45-0 at Rio Rancho Stadium the previous season.

The Rams-Mustangs winner meets Sandia in a quarterfinal game next weekend.

The other first-rounders this weekend are No. 9 Clovis (5-5) at No. 8 Hobbs (5-5), with that game’s winner heading to Lightning Bolt Stadium Nov. 10 or 11; No. 11 Farmington (5-5) at No. 6 Volcano Vista (7-3), and No. 10 Los Lunas (7-3) at No. 7 Las Cruces (5-5).

The Volcano Vista-Farmington winner visits La Cueva and the Las Cruces-Los Lunas winner heads to Centennial in other quarterfinal contests next weekend.