By Thomas Garcia: Quay County Sun
Most expect the Santa Rosa Lions to be in the Class 2A title game, and if they do so they would be 12-0.
If the Tucumcari Rattlers are to face the undefeated, they’ll have to beat another undefeated.
The (6-6) Tucumcari Rattlers are gearing up to meet the second-seeded Lordsburg Mavericks in the Class 2A semifinals on Saturday.
The Rattlers play at 1 p.m. Saturday against the Mavericks at Lordsburg.
The Mavericks are the second undefeated team Tucumcari (6-6) has faced this playoff season. The first time was last week, as the Rattlers pulled off a 33-30 upset over No. 3 seed Capitan.
The Rattlers have met the Mavericks in the playoffs before and been successful each time. Their last meeting was in the 2005 semifinals at Tucumcari, with the Rattlers winning 19-6. They also met in 2000 semifinals at Tucumcari with Tucumcari winning in double overtime 10-9. In 2002 in a quarter final match-up, the Rattlers won 22-6.
“There is a little bit of a rivalry between us and Tucumcari,” said Maverick’s coach Louie Baisa. “This will be the fourth time we meet the Rattlers in the playoffs and last year’s defeat has left a sour taste in our mouth.
The Rattlers are well coached and they play hard every game. They are a lot better then their record indicates and we have known that since the beginning of the year.”
Getting past the semifinals, to get to the state championship, has been a team goal for the Mavericks. And, so far, the Mavericks are undefeated district champions going into Saturday’s game.
On the Rattlers way to the semifinals, the team’s size and physicality has been commented on by the opposing teams’ coaches.
“We do have a good sized team,” said coach Dub Smith. “But speed can counteract that size advantage.”
They exhibited that speed when they faced Capitan last week.
However, Smith said, “It all comes down to how you play and perform on the field. I feel in the last game (against Capitan) we controlled the line of scrimmage and that helped win the game for us. We will just have to play a good solid game of football and not turnover the ball.”
Smith said that the Mavericks have a good quarterback and fullback.
One edge Tucumcari may have is that the Mavericks have not attempted any field goals this season. Baisa said it hasn’t been a problem.
“We haven’t been put in that situation where a field goal was needed,” said Baisa.
Meanwhile, the Rattlers have a seasoned kicker, No. 77 senior Anas Badshah. Badshah kicked two field goals in last week’s win over the Tigers, one from 27 yards and one from 31. Badshah also kicked a 22-yard field goal against the Texico Wolverines on Oct. 20 in a 15-12 overtime win to secure the Rattler’ playoff berth.
The winner of Saturday’s game at Lordsburg will play the winner of the match between the Santa Rosa Lions and the Estancia Bears.
The Lordsburg Mavericks defense at a glance
• No. 44 senior Jessie Darnell middle linebacker 100 + tackles.
• No. 50 senior Scott Esquivel defensive tackle 5 sacks.
The Tucumcari Rattlers defense at a glance
• No.13 senior Brian Lopez middle linebacker: 129 tackle assist, 39 tackles, 8 forced fumbles and 1 interception
• No. 3 senior Matt Smith linebacker : 84 tackle assist, 23 tackles, 1 forced fumble and 3 fumble recovery.
• No. 30 junior Wesley Martinez defensive end: 67 tackle assist, 11 tackles, 3 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery and 1 interception.
• No. 44 junior Andre Debord defensive end: 66 tackle assist, 16 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery and 1 interception
• No. 69 senior Josh Villegas defensive tackle: 51 tackle assist, 6 tackles, 2 forced fumbles and 1 fumble recovery.
• No. 45 senior Drew White defensive tackle: 32 tackle assist, 7 tackles, 2 forced fumbles and 1 fumble recovery.