Sundevils dominated regular season play. Seen here in game against Del Norte. Courtesy image
Ranking For Football Playoffs May Have Hurt Sundevils
Morse Sports and Outdoors
By George Morse
When the seedings and brackets for the Class 5A state football playoffs came out, Española Valley High School’s opening-round matchup against Farmington High School raised a red flag for me. Not because of Española ’s being seeded fifth after their fine 9-1 record during the regular season, but how did a team like Farmington end up being the 12th and last seed.
A little research explained how this happened. It also illustrates how the outcome of one game can throw the seeding process into chaos due to a New Mexico Activities Association rule. It had a definite effect on why Española faced Farmington in the opening round.
Farmington was 7-3 during the regular season. The Scorpions lost to just two New Mexico teams all season. They had victories over Los Lunas (15-14), Belen (56-28), Los Alamos (65-26) and Gallup (56-6) during the season. On offense, they lit up the scoreboard.
Aztec, on the other hand, was just 4-6 on the regular season. The Tigers were soundly beaten by two Class 4A teams – Bloomfield (48-28) and Cobre (62-26). They had lost to Del Norte 26-9 and barely beat Gallup 28-27. Española had decisively beaten Del Norte and Gallup. How did Aztec end up in the state playoffs and seeded ahead of Farmington?
It all came down to one game. Aztec had pulled off an unlikely victory 29-26 over Farmington in District 1-5A. That loss dropped Farmington down to third place in the district standings behind Aztec and District 1-5A champion Piedra Vista. Under Activities Association rules, any team in the state playoffs cannot be seeded ahead of a team that they finished behind in the district standings.
There was no way Farmington could be left out of the state playoffs, but that meant that Aztec had to be included in the playoffs and seeded higher than Farmington. So, Aztec got the 11th seed and Farmington got the 12th seed.
Aztec was blasted by sixth-seeded Roswell 52-14 in the opening round of the playoffs. Española fans know all too well that Farmington defeated the Sundevils 48-20 to end Española ’s dream season and the Scorpions advance to the quarterfinals.
Farmington will face fourth-seeded Moriarty in the quarterfinals. This matchup favors Farmington. Moriarty was 8-2 on the season, losing to Miyamura in their opening game and to Piedra Vista. Farmington defeated Miyamura 67-34 during the regular season. It would not be a surprise to see Farmington in the semifinals.
Truthfully, Española would have been better off with a lower seed. If they had been seeded sixth, they would have faced Aztec in the opening round.
The Sundevils had a great season and Española fans came out in record numbers to support their football team. Hopefully, this will lay the foundation for a solid program that will produce competitive teams for years to come. This season was a testament to the perseverance and dedication of the players and coaches. Their hard work paid off.