Thomas: Wondering what could have been

The past weekend was full of football controversy and upsets on both the collegiate and high school fields.

Whether you follow college football or just watch a lot of ESPN’s Sports Center you’ve probably seen the highlights of the Iron Bowl between then-nationally ranked No. 1 Alabama, the Crimson Tide, and No. 4 Auburn, the Tigers.

After Alabama had one second restored to the game clock in the final period, the Crimson Tide elected to try a 57-yard field goal using the foot of freshman Adam Griffith.

Griffith’s kick was short and the Tiger’s Chris Davis scooped up the ball and ran it back 109 yards to win the game 34-28.

This had the entire sports world in a frenzy, all wondering why Alabama’s head coach Nick Saban would elect to gamble on such a long field goal and not just go into overtime.

The loss probably has dashed any chance for Alabama, the two-time defending BCS national champions, from contending for a third title and may have opened the door to Auburn’s bid for a BCS title berth.

Even today, the resounding effects of this decision and upset victory echo through the college football world.

Although I am shocked and amazed by this turn of events in collegiate football, my thoughts are not so much focused there as on the New Mexico 2A state football tournament.

I have felt for a long time, and have had this thought confirmed by numerous fans and coaches, that District 2 may very well be one of the toughest, if not the toughest district in 2A football.

District 2 is home to our own Tucumcari Rattlers, Texico Wolverines, Estancia Bears, Clayton Yellowjackets and the three-time defending champs, the Santa Rosa Lions.

This year’s 2A state championship has been set for 1 p.m., Saturday with the Yellowjackets taking on the Hatch Valley Bears at Clayton.

While I am glad that a member of District 2 will be fighting for the state championship, I am a bit confused and upset at how this championship game came about.

I know the New Mexico Activities Association oversees the state tournament seeding and scheduling. They do their best to provide the fans and schools with the best environment for a championship tournament, but I am forced to wonder why the three teams from District 2 were placed in the same side of the bracket?

Clayton upset the three time defending state champion Santa Rosa Lions 16-8 on Nov. 29 in the semifinal round, one week after defeating the Estancia Bears 22-6 in the quarterfinals.

Again, I am happy that one of our district’s teams will be represented in the state championship game, though I can’t help but wonder: What would have come if, say, Santa Rosa or even Estancia were placed over on the other side of the bracket?

I can’t speak for Santa Rosa, though I can speculate they would have much rather lost to Clayton in the Championship game rather than the semifinals. I mean, no team wants to lose of course, but for a team as proud and talented as the Lions, not even having a chance to defend their title reign has to hurt that much more.

Again, this is all in the realm of speculation, but I have to ask, if one of the three teams from our district had been placed on the other side of the bracket, could we have instead seen two District 2 teams competing for that blue trophy? Perhaps there could have been a four-time state champion.

I don’t want to take anything away from the Yellowjackets’ victories in this tournament; in fact, I wish them luck this Saturday in their championship run.

With Alabama’s decision to kick a field goal instead of overtime and all three District 2 teams on one side of the bracket, I can’t help but wonder what could have been.

Thomas Garcia is a senior writer at the Quay County Sun. He can be reached at

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