Sensational Sundevils Miraculous Season Ends As District Champs Fall In Opening Round Of State Playoffs

Sundevils Score
The Sundevils make the first touchdown of the game. Photo by Robert A. Naranjo, Valley Daily Post.

Sensational Sundevils Miraculous Season Ends As District Champs Fall In Opening Round Of State Playoffs

By ROBERT A. NARANJO
       Valley Daily Post

El Llano – And it came to pass, the Espanola Valley’s “Sensational Sundevils” miraculous football season ended Saturday Nov. 14 as they failed to advance out of Round One of the NMAA State Football Playoffs, falling to the Farmington Scorpions at Sundevil Stadium, 48 to 2O. It looked promising for the Sundevils and their fans early on when the Sundevils scored first at the 9:27 mark of the first Quarter, then got the two-point conversion and led 8-O. Almost immediately, the Scorpions went to work. First the Scorpions answered with their passing game and scored at the 9:O7 mark, just 2O seconds after the Sundevils, but missed the field goal, and the score was 8-6, Sundevils. The ensuing kick-off by the Scorpions was bouncing wildly and about three Sundevils touched it but they secured it finally. The Sundevils started inside their own 1O yard line and were moving it reaching mid field and then fumbled it. Farmington quickly took advantage of the field position and struck quickly scoring again.


Sundevils on offense during first quarter. Valley Daily Post photo                     

After the Scorpions had taken the lead 14-8, the public address announcer said there “are seven or eight penalties against the Sundevils” and this telltale penalty statistic was announced to the crowd with 3:41 left in the first Quarter. An opportunity for the lead and momentum shift came when the Sundevils recovered a fumble on a punt to the Scorpions after failing to get a first down. The crowd roared their approval only to be quieted when one of the game officials picked up the football and started marching in a seemingly “not so fast” manner in the other direction from where the Scorpion fumble occurred. All the way back to the line of scrimmage to hit the Sundevils with a five-yard penalty and having them punt again. That call by the official took back the length of the punt and it was kicked well, plus the 5 yards. So, instead of 35-4O yards or more gained by the fumble recovery, the Sundevils had to punt again. That second punt got a Farmington bounce as it went laterally instead of downfield. It was fielded by a Scorpion and carried back for a little yardage. No fumble, no great field position, no score, no momentum shift for EVHS. That was the proverbial “official’s call that broke the Sundevils back” as the field position potential score, lead disappeared. The Scorpions scored soon after that present by the official.

In what became a game of costly penalties, including the damaging one on the Sundevils punt formation called on a player for allegedly moving slightly (during a punt!) and it deteriorated from there for the Sundevils. That particular call hurt the most because the recovered fumble would have given the Sundevils great field position. That penalty and the loss of the potential TD took the air out of the sails of the Sundevils for a while and it seemed the Scorpions surged with that good fortune and by Halftime lead, 35-14, just about an insurmountable lead. But not for the Sundevils, they kept fighting.


Farmington of offense. Valley Daily Post photo

Although the Sundevils were playing to win and some critical calls went against them, credit has to be given to the Farmington Scorpions who played smart and somehow avoided being penalized by referees. They “played good defense this afternoon, but are known for their passing game,” said Sisneros of KDCE Radio Sports. The Scorpions also showed their passing game with receivers cutting across the middle and successfully catching the football while on the run gaining yardage and they made the most out of the gift penalties against the Sundevils by the game officials.

Sundevils quarterback Marcos Flores was trying but according to Sisneros, “Flores and the other running backs were having to do it on their own,” as the EVHS offensive line was not keeping the Scorpions at bay well enough for Flores and the running backs to generate yards, instead, they had to scramble, take some hard hits, or plays were broken up. “Española played pretty good defense in the second Half,” KDCE’s “RG” said but added that but the offense could not get untracked as they have during the season. By the end of the third, the Scorpions scored only a touchdown and kicked the point after. The Sundevils didn’t score and it was 42-14 at the end of the third Quarter.

With minutes to go in the game, Sisneros observes, “Flores is playing with so much heart, as the Sundevils QB just doesn’t’ give up.” Sisneros added, “…that it’s defense that wins games.” Thinking ahead to next season, he said that the “Sundevils have a good core of players coming back and will likely continue playing well. ” But Sisneros wondered if a QB to take Flores’ place is ready to fill some pretty big shoes.

Suddenly a 6O-yard scoring pass from QB Flores to Tommy Trujillo had KDCE’s RG comment, “The Sundevils don’t give up. They deserve more than a pat on the back, they deserve respect. They’ve done so much for the community,” he added.

“Any Time A Team Has A Record-Breaking Season In Any Sport, It Will Be Remembered.” – KDCE’s Rudy Sisneros

KDCE’s Sisneros complimented the Sundevils by stating, “Something that can never be lost by this 2O15 Sundevils football team is their legacy.” Sisneros continued, “Any time a team has a record-breaking season, in any sport, it will be remembered. They created something here that has never been done before and they’ll talk about this team for a long time in the years to come!”

This 2O15 “Sensational Sundevils” football team shattered just about all team records in the 4O year history of EVHS beginning with the first Bicentennial Class of 1976. The 1991 football team was also a good one for the record books by sharing a District Title in football that was equally amazing under Coach David Church with son, Brad, guiding the team as QB. A Manny Medina (not to be confused with current Sundevil Coach, Miguel Medina) coached a Sundevil football team went 5-5 in a respectable season not too long ago.

“So, the Sundevils can play football,” people are now saying across the state (and El Paso, TX too!), even in light of this State Football Playoff loss to Farmington. They’ve earned, with hard work, their place in EVHS”s athletic history

This year’s Sundevils football team re-joins the “District Champions” and “Going to State” club at EVHS after more than a score of years.

Coach Miguel Medina, his assistant coaches, the senior players’ leadership, the offensive line, the defensive line, the cheerleaders whom cheered on for their Sundevils even during the “Rain and Sleet Bowl” in Los Alamos, Athletic Director, Eric Vigil, and everyone associated with this season’s Sundevils football team have a great deal to be proud of. The football team did wonders for EVHS and the Greater Española Valley community. Perhaps this year’s success is the start of a new tradition of playing football well enough to win more District Championships and play in the State Football Playoffs in subsequent seasons or at minimal have decent seasons. The Sundevils might just have the lightning strike twice in the same spot next season – Sundevil Stadium!

The Valley Daily Post congratulates and thanks the Sundevils for “working hard” and for not “letting anyone take this away from you!” And, of course, thank you for getting up “early when everyone else was asleep.” All these inspiring words came from Coach Miguel Medina during the season. And, congratulations, Sundevil football team on your 2O15 District 2-5A Football Championship and playing in the State Football Playoffs. That says it all!