Football: Elks Battle St. Michael’s, Gain State Berth
Luke Salazar about to pounce on fumbled ball for touchdown
After Pojoaque Valley head football coach Quevin Redding watched his team go toe-to-toe against St. Michael’s, before losing a hard fought battle 27-7, he said, “How can you justify not choosing us to go to state?” How indeed.
The New Mexico Activities Association seeding committee agreed with Redding and for the second time in Pojoaque High’s fourteen year football history, the Elks will play in the state tournament; they also made the state playoffs in 2005.
Pojoaque earned the 12th and final seed and they’ll play number 5 seed Albuquerque Academy on Saturday. Game time is 1 p.m. at Albuquerque Academy.
Being in the state playoffs is a big story, but the Elks performance against the hard running Horsemen is equally big. The Elks gained R-E-S-P-E-C-T for themselves, from St. Michael’s and obviously the seeding committee.
As the cliche goes, the game was closer than the score as illustrated by the following stats:
The Elks had four melt downs in the red zone, coming away with zero points.
St. Michael’s scored two first quarter touchdowns on back-to-back possessions, after that the tenacious Elks’ defense held the Horseman scoreless for two quarters.
Pojoaque missed two field goals.
Pojoaque’s defense caused four turnovers. Jeremy Martinez and Robert Vigil each had an interception.
A third quarter 73-yard TD pass from Mike Garcia to Luke Salazar was called back because of a penalty.
And speaking of Salazar, if there was a presentation of a game ball, it would go to the junior wide receiver/running back. Of course, he might have to split the game ball with the Elks’ defense.
But Salazar, inserted into the backfield in the Elks’ surprise attack winged T, which resembles an old time single wing, which these days is called the wild cat, ran for 51 yards, caught four passes for 116 yards and he scored the Elks’ only touchdown in the fourth quarter on the weirdest play of the afternoon.
After Garcia hooked up with Carlos Vigil for a 35-yard completion to the 5-yard line, Garcia looked to hit Salazar in the left corner of the end-zone, but the pass was intercepted by Matt Cantu. Cantu took one step and Salazar ripped the ball from his arms, the ball rolled into the end-zone and Salazar fell on the ball for six points.
“I really proud of these kids,” Redding said. “They were fighting, hitting and screaming until the end. We deserve to go to state.”
And you’re going, coach. Congratulations!