1. Las Cruces (4-3, 2-0 in 3-6A) vs. Centennial (6-1, 2-0), 7pm Thursday, Field of Dreams: This is arguably the best 6A match in week 9 and the winner will be ready to win the regular season 3-6A District Championship. The winner of that game could head for a first-round bye in the playoffs, along with Cleveland, Rio Rancho and La Cueva. However, this is more true of Centennial than of Las Cruces.
2. Cleveland (7-0, 2-0 in 1-6A) at Volcano Vista (5-2, 2-0), Thursday 7pm, Nusenda Community Stadium: What’s the schedule for Thursday night this week? This is one of four games in my top 5 this week that will be played on Thursday. The Hawks in seventh place (according to coach survey) have won four in a row and beat teams they should beat. But No. 1 Cleveland scores over 50 points a week.
3. Artesia (5-2) in Roswell (2-5), 7pm Friday, Wool Bowl: The start of three crazy weeks of competition with the Bulldogs, Coyotes and Goddard, all in the mix to end on 4-5A. Artesia has scored 119 points in the last two games, but this Roswell defense is one of the best the Bulldogs will see this season.
4. Valencia (5-3, 1-1 in 5 / 6-4A) in St. Pius (5-2, 1-0), 7pm Thursday, Milne Stadium: Suddenly a big game for the fifth placed Jaguars then lost last week at home against the Albuquerque Academy. St Pius in 6th finally had a game that didn’t go to the end last week and the Sartans need to keep winning to keep up with the Chargers (7-1, 2-0) who play against Grants Friday.
5. Lovington (4-3) at Silver (5-2), 5pm Friday: Geographically, there is no more bizarre grouping of teams than the four occupying District 3 / 4-4A. Why do I mention this? Because this is a district start, despite the 360 miles that separate Lovington from Silver City. The Colts have lost two in a row. To end this brief defeat, they have to beat the top ranked team from 4A.