By Ryn Gargulinski: QCS
Rattler footballer Justin Benavidez said nothing pumps him up for a game more than a heavy dose of Metallica or AC/DC.
His brother and fellow teammate, Josh Benavidez, agrees. Well, at least with the concept of music pumping him up, but his listening taste is more Pretty Ricky, he said.
The two seniors also concur they will face today’s semifinal game against Lordsburg with confidence – and pretty sure they’ll win – which would put them in the final game for the state championship.
“The odds are with us,” Josh Benavidez said. Contrary to Wednesday’s sport report, Tucumcari beat Lordsburg when they faced them in the playoffs in 2000 and again in 2002, Coach Dub Smith said, adding they won the former by a slim margin of 10-9 in double overtime and the latter 22-6. Either way, if the Rattlers win today, the final game for them will be on the road, Smith said.
“We won state in my freshman year,” senior Justin Benavidez said, “and that year I didn’t even feel like I was going to play.” He said he went into the season on his relatives’ urgings – and came out a state champion.
Top honors in sports for either Benavidez is nothing new. Justin Benavidez said they have several trophies and he has a drawer full of ribbons from efforts in Tucumcari football, basketball and track. The brothers said their first memories of playing a sport is kicking around a soccer ball in third grade or fourth grade.
“We didn’t play on an organized team,” Justin Benavidez said. “We just played with friends. It was fun.” Justin Benavidez said one of his favorite aspects of playing any sport is being with teammates.
“It’s entertaining, interesting,” he said. “I like getting to know people. It also keeps my grades up and keeps me out of trouble.”
Trouble did come to Justin Benavidez last year, he said. Not in the form of police officers knocking at his door, but in a football injury that sidelined him for most of the season.
“I had a fractured collarbone,” he said, “but I was able to build my confidence up (by watching the game). I was able to see how people messed up, to become a student of the game.”
Justin Benavidez said he is also a student of architecture, the subject in which he plans to major in college, and he’s already built a computer generated blueprint of his dream house.
His four-bedroom, two-story home included an office and an indoor swimming pool. When asked why it didn’t have a gym, Justin Benavidez responded,
“I didn’t get that far yet, but I will. I like to challenge myself.”
Josh Benavidez, too, said he will not scoff from a challenge. He intends to warm up to a college career focusing on basketball.
Although the brothers said they’ve learned much from playing over the years, especially from their coaches and teammates — namely Smith’s mantra to never give up — Josh Benavidez still said his favorite aspect of sports is the thrill of victory.
“There is no better feeling than going out there and winning,” he said.
What: Tucumcari vs. Lordsburg in football semifinals
When: 1 p.m. today
Where: Rattler Stadium
Tickets: $8 for adults; $5 for students and those over 65
On the radio: KQAY FM 92.7
Saturday’s victor plays winner of Santa Rose-Hatch Valley game.
A recent Web poll asked:
How do you think the Rattlers will do in the state football playoffs? Out of 48 votes, readers said:
They will win the state title, 20 votes or 41.67 percent
They will play for the state title: 20 votes or 41.67 percent
Injuries will end their season sooner rather than later: 8 votes or 16.67 percent