Three local high school football teams are nearing the end of their regular season with playoff hopes. Moriarty is seeking to recover from a three-game losing streak for a district championship. Estancia, with a challenging schedule, aims for a strong finish. Mountainair, at 4-3, strives to maintain momentum into the playoffs.
It’s crunch time as the three area prep football teams head into the final lap of the regular season.
Moriarty and Estancia look to snap their losing streaks and finish strong during their respective district games, and Mountainair hopes to win its final regular-season game and carry that momentum into the postseason.
Here’s a look at what lies ahead for each team and why every remaining game has playoff implications.
After a promising 4-0 start that saw the Pintos averaging nearly 38 points per game, Moriarty has dropped three consecutive games — its longest losing skid since the Covid-delayed spring season of 2021.
During the losing streak Moriarty’s offense has averaged fewer than 20 points per game.
“We’ve gotta be able to score more points,” Pintos head coach Gabe Romero said about getting back on track.
Moriarty (4-3) put up 38 points in a shootout with Miyamura before the game slipped away in overtime, but the Pintos were held to 14 last week in losing 24-14 at St. Pius.
“They made plays when they needed to and we didn’t,” Romero said about the loss to the Sartans.
Romero thinks the Pintos, currently ranked No. 10 in the NMOT coach’s poll, can turn things around by playing hard for four quarters.
“We haven’t shown well in the last three weeks, and we gotta play better in the second half,” Romero said. “I think if we do that, we can start winning games again and get our confidence back.”
Moriarty’s District 2-4A schedule gets underway tonight with a home matchup against Pojoaque Valley (3-4).
Romero said the Pintos must take it “one game at a time,” but added that the goal is to win the next three games and be district champions.
The Pintos last won their district in 2021 and earned the No. 4 seed in the state playoffs that season.
Last year Moriarty fell to Taos in the district championship and settled for the No. 7 seed.
The Pintos will play at Española Valley on Oct. 20 and wrap up the regular season at home Oct. 27 against Taos.
Romero said he thinks both Pojoaque and Española are a little better than they were last year, and Taos may not be as good as they were last season.
“I think it’s still a matter of, you gotta win all three of those games to be district champions,” he said.
Romero said he thinks the chance of Moriarty working its way into a top-4 seed — and an opening-round bye this year is a long shot, but added, “If we win out, I think we could probably work our way up to a five or a six [seed].”
A few weeks ago, Estancia head coach Stewart Burnett said he felt like the Bears were on a crash course to finish the season 4-7. The next three weeks will reveal whether Burnett’s prediction comes true.
The No. 7 Bears (2-5) kick off their District 3-2A schedule at home tonight against Mescalero Apache (3-4), followed by an Oct. 20 showdown at No. 5 Tularosa.
Burnett said Tularosa is planning a “white out” and has asked the NMAA for permission to wear its typically away-game white uniforms and is also asking its fans to wear white.
“We’re gonna be going into an absolute lion’s den at Tulie,” Burnett said. “We’re gonna have to play absolutely perfect.”
And the Bears have been less than perfect this season: they dropped their first three games, then won two games before losing two more.
Estancia’s last game was a 56-14 defeat at the hands of No. 3 Santa Rosa, and the Bears surrendered 489 yards rushing, including 309 to Nicolas Chavez — the second-leading running back in the state behind Estancia’s Joshua Calhoon.
Stopping opponents’ offenses has been the Bears’ biggest problem this season, Burnett said.
“We can’t run away from our weaknesses on defense,” Burnett said.
Estancia wraps up the regular season at home Oct. 27 against Capitan, and Burnett said he’s looking to at least win two district games, noting that Tularosa will be the toughest of the three remaining matchups.
“We gotta get past Mescalero, we gotta beat Capitan, and we’ll see what we can do against Tulie,” Burnett said. “If this group beats Tulie, it might be the biggest win since I’ve been here — but we gotta win two of the three.”
With the Mustangs’ Oct. 6 win over Albuquerque’s Chesterton Academy, Mountainair improved to 4-3 on the season.
The Mustangs look to carry that momentum into tonight’s regular-season finale against Hondo Valley (1-4) and pull out a victory to finish 5-3 heading into the playoffs.
Chesterton Academy (1-5) wasn’t exactly a pushover as the Saints picked off a first-quarter Mustangs’ pass and turned it into a scoring drive for an early 6-0 lead.
The Mustangs responded with seven unanswered touchdowns on their way to a 57-12 win.
“We started a little slow,” Mustangs head coach Robert Zamora said. “Once we started playing, the kids did a good job finishing off the game.”
The game was a reflection of how the Mustangs’ rollercoaster season has gone: dropping the season opener, then winning two consecutive games before losing the next two after that, he said.
“We’ve been inconsistent,” Zamora said. “We’ve played good at times, and we’ve played lazy at times, and that ain’t gonna work in the playoffs.”
Senior Hayden Bingham, who scored a pair of touchdowns against Chesterton, echoed his coach.
“At first we were kinda shaky, but we played good in the second half,” Bingham said. “We definitely need to, like, focus up, we need to have everyone be more focused.”
The Mustangs handily swept their two district opponents, Carrizozo and Animas, to capture their District 3-Six Man Football title and gain an automatic postseason berth.
Losses to Dora, Elida and Grady, however, have dropped Mountainair to No. 6, but Zamora said seeding is not the primary goal for the Mustangs.
“I think we’re gonna end up around a six-seed, but it don’t matter if you’re a one-seed or an eight-seed, you know, we just gotta play,” Zamora said. “Hopefully we’re at the top of our game once the playoffs start.”