Valley’s Tazhe Wilson (left) celebrates with his teammates after scoring a long touchdown vs, Bernalillo. (Mike Sandoval/For the Journal)
RIO RANCHO — Billy Cobos couldn’t have scripted a much better beginning to his tenure as Valley head football coach.
Behind a physical running game and an opportunistic defense, the Vikings (1-0) rolled to a 36-0 victory over Bernalillo (0-1) at Cleveland High School on Thursday night. The game was played at a neutral site because the turf on the Spartans home field is not ready for use.
“I can’t thank the boys enough,” Cobos said. “They did everything we’ve asked them as a coaching staff from June 1 to now. They played their hearts out. Not for me, but for the Valley community.”
It was also something of a family affair, as Cobos got the better of his nephew, Spartans coach John Cobos.
“My nephew got me into this business,” Billy Cobos said. “And I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for John. So I love him. I wish them nothing but the best.”
Bernalillo football head coach, John Cobos (left), talks to his uncle, Valley coach Billy Cobos, prior to their two teams meeting in Friday’s season opener at Cleveland High. (Mike Sandoval/For the Journal)
While Bernalillo struggled to even get a first down, the Vikings went 87 yards on their second possession, a drive that was capped off by a 10-yard touchdown run from Caedan Jojola. Valley would score twice more to take a 20-0 lead into halftime.
A 44-yard pass from Julian Butkivich to Ezekiel Ramos helped set up an 11-yard TD jaunt by Jojola before an interception on the Spartans’ ensuing drive led to a 35-yard scoring scamper by Tazhe Wilson. The committee approach in the backfield worked well all evening for Valley, as Jojola, Wilson and Ricky Henderson each made contributions on the ground.
“They’re all hosses,” Cobos said. “They feed off of each other.”
Bernalillo had an opportunity to make things interesting late in the first half following an interception and return inside the Vikings’ 10 by the Spartans’ Shawn Armijo. After four plays, the Spartans came up a yard short of the end zone in what appeared to be a deflating moment. It was one of several occasions in which the Valley defense held strong against Bernalillo in the red zone.
The Spartans were plagued by interceptions — the Vikings had four — plus penalties and a general lack of continuity on the offense. As a result, the game was never in doubt in the second half.
“We were lacking aggression the last couple of years. And we lost our swag, our luster for the game,” Billy Cobos said. “… The community is excited.”
— Tristen Critchfield
VALLEY 36, BERNALILLO 0
Valley 6 14 8 8—36
Bernalillo 0 0 0 0—0
Scoring: V, Caedan Jojola 10 run (kick blocked); V, Jojola 11 run (kick failed); V, Tazhe Wilson 35 run (Richard Henderson run); Justin Vigil 14 pass from Julian Butkivich (Henderson run); V, Forest Martin 33 interception return (Jojola run). Rec.: V 1-0, B 0-1.
First downs: V 19; B 6. Rushes yards: V 45-235; B 20-4. Passing: V 9-22-1-113; B 11-27-4-117. Total offense: V 348; B 121. Punts avg.: V 2-25; B 3-39. Fumbles lost: V 2-1. Penalties yards: V 10-100; B 12-95.
WEST MESA 56, SANTA FE 12: At Nusenda Community Stadium, junior quarterback Elijah Brody threw four touchdown passes and ran for two others as the Mustangs made new coach Landrick Brody a winner in his debut Thursday night against the Demons.
Chris Johnson and Chris Jinzo each caught a pair of touchdown passes for West Mesa, and Robert Ramirez rushed for two scores for the Mustangs.
ALBUQUERQUE ACADEMY 37, RIO GRANDE 0: At Milne Stadium, quarterback AJ Rivera threw a pair of TD passes to Kellan Gehres, and Cole Conway rushed for three scores as the Chargers, the No. 2-ranked team in Class 4A, beat the independent Ravens in a season opener.
WEEK 1 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
Albuquerque Academy 37, Rio Grande 0
Crownpoint 40, Sanders Valley, Ariz. 6
Cuba 49, Santa Fe Indian 6
Jal 65, Tucumcari 0
Sandia 59, Atrisco Heritage 37
Valley 36, Bernalillo 0
West Mesa 56, Santa Fe 12
Legacy Academy at Melrose, 6pm
Deming at Del Norte, Milne, 7 p.m
Las Cruces at Volcano Vista, Community, 7 p.m
Cibola at Eldorado, Wilson, 7 pm
La Cueva at Rio Rancho, 7 p.m
Centennial at Cleveland, 7 p.m
Albuquerque High at Organ Mountain, Field of Dreams, 7 p.m
Los Lunas at Belen, 7pm
Alamogordo at Valencia, 7 p.m
Highland at Portales, 7pm
Gallup at Moriarty, 7pm
Navajo Pine at Menaul, 7 p.m
Ramah at Gateway Christian, 6 p.m
Kirtland Central at Silver, 7 p.m
West Las Vegas at Escalante, 7 p.m
Mescalero Apache at NM Military Institute, 7 p.m. Dexter at Santa Rosa, 7 p.m
Gadsden at Ruidoso, 7pm
Lovington at Roswell, 7pm
Thoreau at Zuni, 7pm
Espanola Valley at Los Alamos, 7 pm
Cobre at Chaparral, 7pm
Pojoaque Valley at Socorro, 7 p.m
Carrizozo at Elida, 7 pm
Eunice vs. Raton, at Tucumcari, 7 p.m
Piedra Vista vs Farmington, Hutchison Stadium, 7 p.m
Hot Springs at Tularosa, 7 p.m
Carlsbad at Artesia, 7 pm
Clovis at Hobbs, 7pm
Shiprock at Tohatchi, 7pm
Grants at Capital, 7 p.m
Capitan at Hagerman, 7 p.m
Tatum at Magdalena, 7 pm
Aztec at Miyamura, 7 p.m
Goddard at Santa Teresa, 7 p.m
Duncan, Ariz., at Lordsburg, 7:35 pm
Hatch Valley at Laguna-Acoma, 8 pm
McCurdy at Hope Christian, Community, 11 am
Eastmark High, Ariz., at Robertson, noon
Bloomfield at St. Pius, Milne, 1 pm
Manzano at Mayfield, Field of Dreams, 1 pm
Roy/Mosquero at Dora, 1 pm
Taos at St. Michael’s, 1:30 pm
Estancia at Texico, 2 p.m
Grady at Animas, 2pm
Logan at Alamo Navajo, 6 p.m
Clayton at Questa, 6:30 p.m