Rio Rancho quarterback JJ Arellano out-runs Farmington defenders in the Rams’ big win in Farmington Friday night. (Photo courtesy of Zia Sports Photography)
As the leaves start to fall and fall is in full swing, it appears no football team will waltz through District 1-6A – this district is seemingly better than ever, although just two teams outside of the City of Vision have won the district championship since 2004: Cibola in 2007 and Volcano Vista in 2019.
But this season, both Rio Rancho teams have two losses, and none of the other three 1-6A teams has more than one.
Storm come home with a loss
It was back in the 2014 season when Cleveland High School lost more than two games.
And, in light of their narrow loss last week, the Storm (4-2) have slipped in the MaxPreps state rankings from No. 1 to No. 3, with the first team that beat them this season, Centennial, No. 1 for the third time this season; La Cueva leap-frogged the Storm to 2, and Rio Rancho is No. 6 for the third week in a row.
Now, with its hefty District 1-5A slate awaiting it, starting with No. 5 Volcano Vista (5-1) Friday night at 7 at Lighting Bolt Stadium, the defending champion Storm may be having a few doubts.
Losing in a 56-52 shootout to Frenship last Friday in the Lone Star State, Cleveland continues to roll on offense: The last time the Storm scored 50 or more points and lost was in that ’14 season, a 57-56 loss to Eldorado at Wilson Stadium.
CHS’s Nic Trujillo scored four touchdowns at Frenship, three receiving and one rushing; Josh Perry rambled for 123 yards and scored a TD; Zach Beranek had a rushing TD and a receiving TD; and Anres Aguirre had a rushing TD. Quarterback Evan Wysong threw for 240 yards and four touchdowns.
Now, it’s time to get back on the winning track as the district slate begins. And it won’t be that easy: Volcano Vista’s only loss was on Sept. 9 to La Cueva, 38-28, a team the Storm beat 33-29 on Aug. 26, also at Wilson Stadium.
All-time, the Storm are 11-2 vs. Volcano Vista; the first loss came in the program’s debut season, 2009, 28-19 at Milne Stadium; the second setback was in 2019, a 35-7 loss at Community Stadium.
The Storm went on to win the 2019 championship, after Rio Rancho rolled the top-seeded Hawks in the semifinals and the Storm beat the Rams the next week for all the marbles.
Rams get a week off
Rio Rancho, rebounding nicely from its 30-20 loss at Hobbs on Sept. 16, took a road trip up US 550 on Sept. 23 and returned with a 35-28 victory in hand.
The Rams (4-2) are idle this weekend, but a much-improved Atrisco Heritage Academy (5-0 before its Sept. 30 showdown with also unbeaten Cibola)) waits in the wings for a 5 p.m. showdown on Saturday, Oct. 8., at Nusenda Community Stadium.
The Jaguars are coached by former Rams assistant Howard Knezevich and have scored 44 or more points in each of their last four games, including a shootout win of their own, 59-54, over also-improved West Mesa on Sept. 16.
In seven previous meetings with the Jaguars, the Rams are 7-0, with the last five being by 26 or more points – and that includes a 50-0 win at Rio Rancho Stadium last October.