1. Volcano Vista (6-2, 1-1 in 1-6A) at Rio Rancho (6-2, 2-0), 7 pm Friday: JJ Arellano, the Rams back-up quarterback, has been one of the sensational stories in Class 6A football this season; he’s especially been on fire of late. And he’ll need to be in this important matchup, with a high-powered Hawks offense flying into Rio Rancho. If Volcano Vista wants to be a top-four seed in the playoffs, it must win this game.
2. Artesia (6-2, 1-0 in 4-5A) at Goddard (6-2, 1-0), Wool Bowl, 7 pm Friday: The Bulldogs’ extremely impressive 46-28 win over Roswell was just the boost they need to head into the Wool Bowl to face their longtime nemesis, the Rockets. There has been a revolving door at No. 1 in 5A. Artesia was there, then Piedra Vista, then Roswell. And now the Bulldogs should jump back into that spot this upcoming week.
3. Raton (7-2, 2-1 in 2-3A) at Robertson (6-2, 2-0), 7 pm Friday: The Cardinals, after a slow opening month on the offensive side of the ball, are hitting their stride as the defending 3A state champs welcome the Tigers, who are coming off a crushing loss to St. Michael’s after leading by two touchdowns.
4. Hope Christian (4-4-1, 2-1 in 4-3A) at Ruidoso (7-1, 2-0), 7 pm Friday: In this crucial district encounter — Hope’s final game of the regular season — the Huskies roll into Ruidoso as a battle-tested bunch; but the Warriors are, too, led by running back Kaden Sago.
5. Menaul (4-4, 2-0 in 1-8Man) at Legacy Academy (2-5, 2-0), at Menaul School, 7 pm Friday: Time to give a little love to the 8-Man ranks as Albuquerque’s two programs square off for a district championship. Silverbacks are in their first season of varsity football, and they’re the home team in this game, even though it’s being played on the Panthers’ home field.