Thursday, October 11, 2012

Prep work: Previewing District 3-5A football

(Las Cruces High quarterback Jonathan Joy had his eye on the end zone during this Sept. 28 game against La Cueva. The Bulldawgs won 28-14/Photo by Robin Zielinski)

It didn’t take long for the District 3-5A football season to come into view. League games kick off Friday night with Oñate hosting Las Cruces High at the Field of Dreams and Mayfield traveling to Gadsden High School for a road game.

A few things stood out from the first month of the season: Las Cruces High has the tools of a very good team, Mayfield hasn’t looked quite like Mayfield and the bottom of the league is improved from past years. What will it mean when the ball’s kicked off Friday and in the next five weeks of the season? We’ll try our best to forecast the District 3-5A race.

One-horse race?
Simply judging from the pre-district results, it appears this is Las Cruces High’s league to lose in 2012. The Bulldawgs have the talent of a state-championship team and looked impressive last weekend in their 54-27 win over Artesia. Where this puts them exactly in terms of a state title is unknown — in the single-elimination tournament, one bad matchup (or performance) can quickly determine a team’s downfall. As far as the District 3-5A race is concerned, however, the Bulldawgs look to be the necessary frontrunner.

Trojan standards
We’ve been saying it all year: This just doesn’t look like the same Mayfield Trojans football team we’re accustom to seeing. Always synonymous with being a sound club that perhaps over-punched on the playing field, the Trojans have been plagued this year by a lack of focus — penalties and turnovers to name a couple struggles. Still, we would figure them to be a top-two finisher in league play until things are proven otherwise.

Fight for third?
Every year there seemingly are two questions with District 3-5A football at the forefront: Who’s finishing first (either Las Cruces High or Mayfield) and who’s coming in third (between Oñate, Alamogordo and Gadsden). Again, at the moment things don’t appear substantially different this season. One piece of mind for the third place team is they could be a state playoff qualifier in 2012. The Knights and Panthers are both 3-3 and could sneak up on some people in league play. Surely it would be nice to see one of these three teams make a push to the upper-half of divisional play, if for nothing else than simply competitive balance.

Intriguing matchups
Obviously Las Cruces High vs. Mayfield on Nov. 9 always supplies intrigue. But what about the Gadsden’s 3-3 record? The Panthers have shown they can compete with average teams in the state, so what will that mean when they square off against Oñate (Oct. 19) and Alamogordo (Oct. 26)? And, while the Knights has shown some improvement this year, how much better are they? The team’s Oct. 26 game against Mayfield could be an interesting litmus test for both clubs.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

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