Cleveland celebrates defeating Rio Rancho 28-27 on Friday, Oct. 29, 2021, at RRHS en route to a 10-0 regular season and the District 1-6A title. Cleveland also extended its winning streak against Rio Rancho to six games. Matt Hollinshead/Observer

Cleveland High football coach Heath Ridenour told his team at halftime of the annual City of Vision Championship Game at Rio Rancho Stadium, played on a cool Friday evening with a negligible wind in front of an estimated 6,300 fans.

And Ridenour was right, as a 24-yard field goal attempt by Rio Rancho’s Bailey Siverts sailed wide right, and Cleveland escaped with a 28-27 victory, their 19th in a row — and the sixth time in a row they’ve beaten the Rams.

Dion’t think it was easy.

The Rams led, 20-0, at intermission. The Storm had come up short on three fourth-down plays inside the red zone, failed each time, and the No. 2 Rams (7-1, 3-1 in District 1-6A) responded with long scoring drives: 81 yards on two plays, 89 yards on 13 plays and 98 yards on three (!) plays.

But only 15 days earlier, the No. 1 Storm (10-0, 5-0) had an early 20-0 deficit against Volcano Vista at Community Stadium and rallied for a 44-33 victory.

Of course, the Storm would have to stop Rams senior running back Zach Vigil, who amassed 184 rushing yards and TD runs of 59 and 12 yards in the first half, with another senior, quarterback Dominick Priddy, capping the second score of the game on a 6-yard run.

(The Storm never really stopped Zach Vigil; read the rest of the story in the Oct. 31 edition of the Rio Rancho Observer!)