Monday, November 21, 2011

Predictions almost on point through second-to-last week of playoffs

Darrell Patterson/Hobbs News-Sun
A Eunice player makes a catching during the Cardinals' semifinal win Friday.
  I hope I don't hurt myself patting myself on the back, but in the second-to-last week of the football playoffs (except for 2A, which the championship is this week) I've correctly picked 12 of the 14 teams remaining in the New Mexico playoffs (see predictions here).
  Don't worry, I don't plan on praising myself too much as the two teams I missed was in the classification I covered this season – Class 5A.
  So lets see what is on tap for this week.
No. 1 Eunice @ No. 3 Santa Rosa, 1:30 p.m. Saturday
  Outlook: I predicted Eunice to go all the way, and I'm not wavering from that pick, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't concerned about the last two weeks. The Eunice offense that's torched everyone on the season hasn't looked the same in the playoffs (maybe except for the second half against No. 8 Tucumcari). Combine it with Santa Rosa's ground-pounding attack and it could be a recipe for trouble. Nonetheless, I'm sticking with the Cardinals because they do have the best quarterback at the small-school level in Tyler Almager, maybe the best wide receiver and defensive player at the small-school level in Junior Caraza, plenty of weapons around them and the experience of finding ways to win ballgames. Eunice wins in a thriller.
No. 5 Hope Christian @ No. 1 St. Michael's, 1:30 p.m. Saturday
No. 2 Silver @ No. 3 Lovington, 1 p.m. Saturday
  Outlook: Lovington looked the part of a two-time defending state champion as the Wildcats throttled Hot Springs 39-7 this past week. Now it faces a Silver squad on a nine-game winning streak at the blue turf of Wildcat Stadium. If Lovington can run the football and play defense like it did Saturday, the Wildcats make it to the finals. If Silver forces Lovington to take to the air, the Colts have a shot of taking down the defending champs.
  On the other side of the bracket, I'm a bit worried about my pre-playoff pick of No. 1 St. Michael's beating No. 5 Hope Christian. The Huskies have been dominant thus far, including a 42-10 win over No. 4 Socorro in the quarterfinals. Still, I see St. Mike's moving on to the championship game as the Horsemen did defeat Hope Christian 37-10 earlier in the season.
No. 4 Artesia @ No. 1 Goddard, 7 p.m. Friday
No. 3 Valencia @ No. 2 Aztec, 1 p.m. Saturday
  Outlook: Another classic battle with Artesia and Goddard, this time in the Wool Bowl in Roswell. The Rockets defeated the Bulldogs 21-14 at Bulldog Bowl earlier in the season. But the scenario is similar to last season when No. 4 Artesia upset then top-seeded and undefeated Goddard in the state semifinals before moving on to win the state title. Does it happen again? I say no. Goddard wins. As for Valencia playing at Aztec, Aztec's homefield advantage is too much and it moves on to face Goddard in the finals.
No. 5 Rio Rancho @ No. 1 Cleveland, 7 p.m. Friday
No. 3 Manzano @ No. 2 Mayfield, 5 p.m. Friday
  Outlook: There is a rematch of one of the better games of the season in Cleveland versus Rio Rancho while the southern half of the state's last hope for a state title – defending champ Mayfield – hosts Manzano. Cleveland edged its in-town rival Rio Rancho 34-32 during the last game of the regular season at Rio Rancho High School. I think Cleveland wins this time around again, but by at least a touchdown with the game at Cleveland High. As for Mayfield and Manzano, the Trojans just know how to win games when playoff time comes around so Mayfield advances.