By Freedom New Mexico
Coach Rafael Roybal was not oozing confidence when his Floyd High School football team traveled to Roswell to play two-time defending state-champion Gateway Christian on Saturday.
When the teams played in September at Floyd, Gateway Christian won 62-0.
Roybal knew his team had improved since then, rebounding to record its first winning season in the coach’s three years at Floyd.
But upsetting the Warriors on their home field? Roybal wasn’t sure he could sell his players a fairy tale like that.
“The only thing I said to them really was ‘Remember they beat us 62-0,’” he said. “We (coaches) spent all week trying to talk to them about what it takes to be a winner. We told them to play their very best and nobody expected anything from us. Everybody pretty much felt we were gonna lose the football game. We said ‘If you do your best, you can always hold your head up.’”
A moral victory was a real possibility two minutes into the fourth quarter of Saturday’s eight-man quarterfinal playoff game. Gateway Christian led just 28-8.
And that’s when Roybal felt his Broncos might pull off an upset.
“Our kids were doing a good job the whole time, and then we started to get a few breaks,” he said. “We had made some adjustments at halftime and they were beginning to pay off. And you could tell they (Gateway’s Warriors) were kinda running out of gas. We just kept telling the kids to keep playing.”
Led by sophomore quarterback Jesus Davalos, the Broncos strung together three consecutive sustained scoring drives.
The defense held after each strike and with less than two minutes to play, Davalos scored his fourth touchdown of the game to give Floyd its first lead of the season against the Warriors.
The Broncos held on for a 32-28 victory.
“I think they were surprised to a certain extent,” Roybal said. “But I also know they worked real hard. They were down three touchdowns in the fourth quarter and just kept working and working … and that’s quite an accomplishment. … Says something about those kids doesn’t it?”
Floyd’s season continues at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Animas, a team that beat the Broncos 52-24 on Sept. 22.
Another miracle coming up?
“I don’t know if they think they’re invincible,” Roybal said, “but they know if they play hard and keep playing hard, they’ve got a chance.”
As do we all.