Knights End Sundevils’ Season 28-0

by Staff Reporter / Nov 08, 2017 / comments
Española’s Markus Griego hands off to Nick Martinez. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Knights End Sundevils’ Season 28-0

By George Morse Sports and Outdoors

There were sad, solemn faces and the tears were flowing as the Española Valley High School football team took a knee after their last football game of the season. Del Norte High School had delivered the knockout blow, defeating Española 28-0 Nov. 3 at Española.

Española had been through a lot of adversity during the season. Head Coach Jesus Maes had been reassigned and ultimately left the team in midseason. A possible victory over rival Los Alamos High School that could have salvaged some pride slipping away in the final minute of the game. Turnovers and penalties that seemed to happen just when the Sundevils looked like they might get some momentum.

Española’s DeAndre Curtis consoles teammate Taylor Balkey after the Sundevils 28-0 loss to Del Norte. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Through it all, the team remained close.

“Wouldn’t have had it any other way,” senior DeAndre Curtis said. “Us playing as brothers. Our bond was stronger because of the adversity.”

One of the strengths of the Sundevils this season was a running game that ground out yardage behind the powerful running of senior Nick Martinez.

Española’s Nick Martinez leads quarterback Markus Griego on a running play. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

“I’ve been honored to play sports,” Martinez said. “Comes a time when everything comes to an end. Most seniors, we wanted to finish strong no mattered what happened.”

Del Norte had taken a quick lead on their first possession of the game. A flea-flicker pass play picked up big yardage. Several plays later the ball didn’t bounce the Sundevils way. Del Norte quarterback Christian Mejia was hit short of the goal line and fumbled into the end zone. Unfortunately, Del Norte recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown. Trevon Lewis made the first of his four point-after-touchdown kicks and the Knights led 7-0 at 10:48 of the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Del Norte scored on a 23-yard run by Mejia to take a 14-0 lead. Mejia then found wide receiver Nicolas Gomez for a pair of touchdown passes, the last with 1:32 left in the first half, to give Del Norte a 28-0 lead at halftime.

Playing for pride, the Sundevils defense stiffened in the second half. Two promising drives by the Sundevils were stopped in the second half-one by a fumble and another by a penalty. In the third quarter, tough running by Martinez and Griego moved the ball from Española’s 25-yard line down to Del Norte’s 26-yardline. A fumble that was recovered by the Knights stopped that drive.

Española quarterback Markus Griego throws a pass against Del Norte. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

In the fourth quarter, Griego hit Curtis with a long pass that gained 33 yards down to Del Norte’s 33-yard line. Martinez followed with a powerful run down to the Knights’ 5-yardline. It looked like the Sundevils were about to score their first touchdown.

A personal foul on the Sundevils moved the ball back to beyond Del Norte’s 20-yard line. The Sundevils couldn’t score from there and turned the ball over on downs.

The final score was the same as the halftime score=28-0 in favor of Del Norte.

Ron DuPree, who’d taken over as Head Coach from Maes, was subdued and humble at the end of the game.

Española quarterback Marcus Griego runs behind his offensive line against Del Norte. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

“I’ve been studying football for a long time,” Coach DuPree said. “I figured out what happened-they outscored us. I had a good group of seniors and I’m going to miss them.”

Española finishes the season 2-8 and loses 14 seniors from this year’s team. The process of rebuilding the Sundevils will begin.