Texico senior running back Carlos Meza tries to escape the reach of Questa’s Michael Cordova during last week’s Class 2A quarterfinal game. (CNJ staff photo: Rick White)
By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
With business to tend to in tonight’s semifinals, Texico coach Mike Prokop and Fort Sumner coach Dexter McDaniel are trying to keep their teams’ minds off a possible third Class 1A state championship clash between the area rivals in the last five years.
Both say their teams are taking a one-game-at-a-time approach, as two-time defending champion Texico (6-4) prepare for a trip to Capitan (6-5) tonight while the top-ranked Foxes (9-2) host Cloudcroft (9-1). Both games are slated for 7 p.m. kickoffs.
Texico, which went 12-0 in each of the last two seasons, is seeking its fifth consecutive trip to the finals. The Wolverines lost to Fort Sumner for the title in 2001 and 2002.
Prokop and McDaniel said their teams can’t afford to look ahead.
“We’ve talked to the kids about it,” Prokop said. “We need to take care of Capitan.”
The Tigers took the District 4-1A title with a 42-20 win over Cloudcroft on Oct. 14, handing the Bears their only loss of the season.
Cloudcroft, meantime, owns a 21-18 win at Fort Sumner in mid-September, erasing an 18-0 deficit with three fourth-quarter touchdowns.
Mistakes hurt the Foxes in that one, McDaniel said.
“We can’t have as many turnovers (five) and penalties (11 for 105 yards) as we had the last time,” he said. “They’ve got a lot of talent and they’ve got a lot of numbers. They’re able to two-platoon on the offensive and defensive lines.”
Texico, which beat Capitan in last year’s quarterfinals, and Fort Sumner appear to be peaking as the season winds down. The Wolverines struggled with a difficult early schedule, but had no problems breezing through District 2-1A and their first two playoff games.
They did, however, lose senior running back-defensive end Eddy Segovia to a broken leg in Saturday’s 53-0 rout of Questa.
Prokop said Capitan’s top players are probably junior quarterback-linebacker Pierre Quiroz and junior split end-safety Matthew Davis.
Fort Sumner, which routed Capitan 43-0 in the second game of the season, has also rolled through District 3-1A play and its first two playoff games. The easy wins have allowed the Foxes to heal up some injuries, and McDaniel said they are as healthy for this game as they’ve been all season.
“We definitely want another chance to play (Cloudcroft),” McDaniel said. “And it just worked out that way.”
In the earlier meeting, junior Aaron Capps ran for one touchdown and threw a pair scoring passes to senior Justin Merrick as the Bears rallied in the final 10 minutes.
If Texico and Fort Sumner win, the Foxes would host next week’s championship game.