After a series of dominating wins, the Bloomfield Bobcats found themselves fighting for their lives last week.
An interception on a tipped screen pass down the stretch helped preserve Bloomfield’s 20-14 win over Raton and send the second-seeded Bobcats (9-2) into a Class 3A semifinal playoff game today against No. 3 Portales (8-3) at Greyhound Stadium.
Veteran Bloomfield coach Bruce Hatch thinks the scare may help the Bobcats as they prepare for the Rams.
“It was probably a little more competitive than it should’ve been,” Hatch said. “It took us a while to get going.”
The Rams, meantime, pulled away late in the half and eventually overwhelmed Cobre 40-13. Portales coach Andy Correll isn’t the greedy type — he’d just like to see a repeat of last week’s performance.
“We stopped their main plays last week, for the most part,” Correll said. “I think if we can do that again this week, we’ll be in good shape.”
The game will contrast Portales’ wide-open spread attack, featuring junior running back Jesus Davalos and a bevy of targets for senior quarterback Michael Trujillo, against the Bobcats’ grind-it-out style.
“We’re more run-oriented, but we can throw the ball (with junior quarterback David Salcido),” Hatch said. “I think we’ve got a couple of good running backs.”
Sophomore Alex Garcia stands 5-foot-3 and weighs 130 pounds — “maybe,” Hatch quipped — but isn’t an easy runner to tackle.
“He’s definitely slippery and he’s got a lot of speed, but he’s not afraid to mix it up,” Hatch said.
Meantime, the Rams effectively mix up Davalos’ running skills with their potent air attack. Against Cobre, Trujillo completed 23-of-32 passes to seven receivers for 287 yards.
Wide receiver Shawn Sites, who caught four passes for 39 yards last week, is one of 19 Rams seniors trying for the school’s first state football title since 1988.
“Ever since the summer we’ve been saying, ‘State championship,’” Sites said. “We’ve got the perfect setup. We just have to go out there and win.”
Correll said the Bobcats are athletic, with good size up front, but he’s hoping the Rams’ depth will prevail.
“They’ve got about eight people going both ways,” he said. “If we can be around in the third and fourth quarters, I think we may be able to wear them out.”
Bloomfield (9-2) at Portales (8-3)
When: 2 p.m. today at Greyhound Stadium in a Class 3A playoff semifinal.
Last week: Bloomfield got past Raton 20-14 at Bloomfield; Portales knocked off Cobre 40-13 at Greyhound Stadium.
Bloomfield players to watch: Brian Detrick, 5-10, 140, WR-S, Jr.; Alex Garcia, 5-3, 130, RB-CB, So.; David Salcido, 6-1, 185, QB, Jr.;Robert Aleshire, 5-7, 180, RB-LB, Sr.; Anthony DeHerrera, G-NG, 6-0, 210, Sr.
Of note: The teams last met in a 2006 quarterfinal game at Bloomfield. Senior Zeke Soto’s 28-yard field goal in the second overtime lifted the Rams to a 20-17 win. … The Bobcats left Friday morning on a 6 1/2-hour bus trip, planning to stay the night in Clovis. “But it’s better than not playing at all,” Bloomfield coach Bruce Hatch said of the long ride. “It’s just something you have to deal with.” … The Bobcats are on an eight-game winning streak. They won five of their final six regular-season games by shutout, scoring at least 56 points in each of them. The exception was a 43-14 win over Portales’ District 4-3A foe, Albuquerque Academy. … It’s Bloomfield’s first trip to the semifinals since 1994. … The Bobcats’ losses were at St. Michael’s, 20-19 in the season opener, and at Class 4A playoff semifinalist Aztec, 57-26 in Week 3.
On deck: The winner faces either Lovington or St. Michael’s, who play on Saturday at Lovington, in next week’s championship game. The Rams would host St. Michael’s, while a game against Lovington would result in a coin flip since the teams have never met in the playoffs.
— Compiled by Dave Wagner