After a strong showing in district play, the fourth-seeded Longhorns and sixth-seeded Rattlers prepare for the first round of state play.
The district champion Longhorns will play host to the Reserve Mountaineers in the first round of the 8-man state tournament on Saturday.
“We think we will match up well against the Longhorns,” said Mountaineers head coach Don Cole. “It is going to be a better game than our last showing against them.”
Cole said the last time they played the Longhorns they were coming off of two previous road trip games. He said the eight-hour drive had a large effect on the team’s performance.
“This time we are going to come up a day early,” Cole said. “We are going to be ready mentally and physically.”
With the district championship only one week behind, Longhorns head coach Billy Burns has been reminding the team this is a new season.
“It is 0-0 when we hit the field - a whole new season,” Burns said. “We know they are coming to play and we are going to be ready for them.”
Cole said since their 76-24 loss to the Longhorns, the team has started playing better football. He said they beat Animas 16-6 and in their 40-28 loss to the number-one seeded Mountainair, they were tied at the half. The Longhorns’ last game against Montainair was a 60-6 loss.
“Against Mountainair we played a great game despite the loss,” Cole said. “We are ready to get out on that field and play.”
Cole said they will have a few players back on the roster that were missing during their first match-up with the Longhorns.
“We know they have some of their kids back,” Burns said. “We have a few players dinged up, but they will be ready to go by game time.”
Burns said the key is just to be ready.
Game time: 1 p.m. Saturday at Logan
The Rattlers will have a week to prepare to take on the third-seeded Eunice Cardinals for the first round of the 2A state football tournament.
“Everytime we are on the field with Eunice, you know there is going to be fireworks,” said Rattlers head coach Daniel Hutchins. “It has become a rivalry between the two teams.”
The rivalry can be traced back a decade to the 2000 state championship where Eunice upset the Rattlers 9-7. That loss has many Rattlers feeling they were robbed of a perfect end to an otherwise perfect season.
Trailing 7-6 with no timeouts, the Eunice Cardinals tried to score from the 1-yard line in the closing seconds of the game. The attempt failed but an offsides penalty called on the Rattlers allowed the Cardinals to kick a field goal, claiming the win over the then 11-0 Rattlers.
“Since that championship, the games between the two teams have heated up,” Hutchins said.
In 2008 the Eunice Cardinals lost 40-37 in overtime to the Rattlers. The win came via a 69-yard touchdown pass from then quarterback Alex Hutchins to Jakus Martinez in the corner of the end zone on 4th and 4.
In 2009 the Ratters lost late in the season to the Cardinals at Eunice. Their game started with a fumbled kickoff resulting in a Cardinal score. Then, on their next offensive possession, the Rattlers fumbled with the Cardinals recovering and scoring.
“It was hard to fight to get back in that game,” Hutchins said.
The Cardinals more than likely remember the last game they played against the Rattlers on Oct. 1. While in Tucumcari, a thunderstorm postponed the game for an hour. When play continued, the Rattlers were able to come away with a 20-19 victory over the Cardinals.
“We just need to be ready to get out there and explode like we did last time,” Hutchins said.
Game time: 7 p.m., Nov. 13 in Eunice.