LAS CRUCES – The regular season of high school football is drawing to a close, but this week’s games could affect the playoff picture more than any other week this season.
Mayfield, Santa Teresa and Centennial will play arguably their most important games of the season Thursday and Friday nights in matchups that could decide the county championships, and a vastly improved Organ Mountain team will travel to Carlsbad to claim their first county win since 2019.
These are the players to watch out for this week:
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If Mayfield wants to avoid a big surprise against Santa Teresa, his linebackers will have to play one of their best games of the season.
Mayfield’s linebacking corps has received praise for their speed, physicality and awareness from almost every opposing head coach they have faced. But it will undoubtedly be tested against a dynamic Santa Teresa backfield with senior quarterback Julian Cobos and senior running back Adrian Rodriguez, both of which haven’t really stopped this season.
But then again, they haven’t met linebackers like Mayfields either.
Julian Cobos, Sr., quarterback, Santa Teresa
If Santa Teresa defeats Mayfield, Cobos will have to play the best game of his short-lived high school football career. And that is not an unreasonable requirement.
Cobos’ week-to-week improvement is possibly the greatest in southern New Mexico. After making six sales on his first career start against Lovington in week 1, the senior has largely trimmed his sales and has become the epitome of offensive efficiency. It’s not uncommon for him to be 300 yards overall offensive, and his likely all-district first-team running back takes the strain off him tremendously.
Adrian Rodriguez, Sr., RB, Santa Teresa
Cobos can’t be the only desert warrior who lived the night of his life for Santa Teresa to score a programmatic victory over Mayfield.
The Desert Warriors were at their best with Cobos and Rodriguez co-starring rather than taking over the game individually. And when both have played well, Santa Teresa is almost unstoppable.
The Desert Warriors have scored at least four touchdowns in all but one game this season, largely due to their overwhelming and dynamic attack, although Mayfield will be by far the best defense they have faced this season. But if Cobos and Rodriguez perform as well as they are capable of, Santa Teresa has a chance.
Ian Lopez, Sr., QB, Centennial
Lopez showed his skills in the borderline 27-point comeback win over Las Cruces High last week to put the Hawks in the driver’s seat in the 6A District 3/4 title race. If he’s half as impressive against Hobbs this week, Centennial will have a district championship at the end of the night.
Hobbs will have a hard time getting Lopez score after score, and no quarterback has achieved his efficiency at Field of Dreams other than the Cleveland High quarterback at the season opener. Be on the lookout for another peak performance as Centennial looks to end the regular season with a win.
Organ Mountain Wide Receiver
Organ Mountain’s season has been far from perfect, but the improvement in his wide receivers has been an optimistic ray of light – one that gives him the chance to win his first county game in two years against Carlsbad this week.
The Knights receivers had only two drops in 22 attempts to pass in their 56-28 loss to Hobbs last week and five different wideouts ended with a catch. Senior David Dorado and Junior Erik Dominguez finished with at least four receptions each. Dorado also took a 29-yard touchdown catch.
Look for the recipients of Organ Mountain to continue the positive trend this week.
Stephen Wagner is a sports reporter for Las Cruces Sun-News. He can be found on Twitter at @ stephenwag22 and can be reached at [email protected]