Rio Rancho senior Anthony Raymer (10) uses a stiffarm tactic to fend off a Mustang Friday evening at Rio Rancho Stadium. Raymer caught six passes and ran the ball twice in the Rams’ 35-14 victory. (Herron photo)
Victories Friday night (Nov. 10) in the Class 6A state quarterfinals round means the City of Vision football teams will square off again this season in the semifinals – guaranteeing that another city football team will be in the state championship game for the fifth season in a row and eighth time in the last nine seasons.
Cleveland (7-3) entertains Hobbs (6-5), while Rio Rancho (8-3) heads to Albuquerque to meet Sandia (8-2) at Milne Stadium.
Going back to 2014, when Rio Rancho won its first title and excluding the pandemic 2020 season, at least one of the city’s teams has played for the blue trophy: the Storm in ’15, the Rams in ’16, the Storm in 2018, ’19, ’21 and ’22, with wins in each except 2018; the Rams in ’19 and ’21, losing to Cleveland each time.
And if both emerge victorious Friday night, the two will meet at Rio Rancho Stadium Nov. 17 in a semifinal, since the last semi- or championship meeting between the two was at Cleveland.
Of course, first things first; both need to win in Friday’s 7 p.m. kickoffs.
Rams rolled in the first round
The No. 5 Rams are 6-3 all-time vs. the Matadors, who they last faced and beat 42-20 at the 2017 homecoming game here.
The Rams, strange as it may seem, haven’t played a game at Milne Stadium since Oct. 4, 2012, when they whipped soon-to-be district opponent Atrisco Heritage Academy 49-28. It was the Jaguars’ third year of existence, and Nusenda Community Stadium didn’t open until the 2013 season.
Pino said he hasn’t been looking ahead.
“Honestly, we haven’t (looked ahead). We’ve been focused on West Mesa; we had to get through Week 1,” he said.
“We’re going into that game with a good mindset,” Senior running back Rayce Ramirez said. “We should have been ranked higher than they were.”
Storm had a first-round bye
With an extra week since their 37-0 rout of the Rams in the City of Vision Championship Game, the Storm got an extra week of rest and time to heal some bruises and minor injuries.
At Lightning Bolt Stadium, the No. 1 Storm and No. 9 Eagles will vie for a semifinal berth next week.
The Storm have had their way with the Eagles, having won all seven previous meetings, scoring 42 or more points every time.
That said, the Eagles have won at Lightning Bolt Stadium: When RRHS had to move its homecoming game there on Sept. 15, the Eagles beat the Rams 24-21.
“They have a big offensive line,” said CHS coach Robert Garza. “(With) the speed they got on offense, we ‘ve got to make sure our defense is tuned in and ready to go. … They play solid defense.”
Like this week’s encounter, the three most recent meetings were also quarterfinal games and also at Lightning Bolt Stadium, won by CHS 54-0 in 2013, 49-24 in 2017 and 42-14 in 2021.
Elsewhere this week
In last weekend’s other 6A first-round games, No. 11 Farmington upset No. 6 Volcano Vista, 31-21, and No. 7 Las Cruces had its way with No. 10 Los Lunas, 42-6.
In the two other quarterfinal games Friday, Farmington (6-5) is at No. 3 La Cueva (7-3) at Wilson Stadium, which relegated the Rams-Matadors’ game to Milne; and in Las Cruces at the Field of Dreams, Las Cruces (6-5) meets No. 2 Centennial (7-2).
It may seem like déjà vu: On Oct. 27, Centennial held off Las Cruces 30-23 and La Cueva routed Farmington, 63-28, in Farmington.