The outcome of last Saturday’s Class 3A state semifinal game in Eunice wasn’t what the Estancia Bears football team—or its fans—expected.
The No. 1 Bears dispatched the Eunice Cardinals earlier in the season, so it seemed plausible that the Bears would do it again and advance to the state championship. But the fourth-seeded Cardinals threw a wrench in the Bears’ bid for a “three-peat”—the colloquial term for a third consecutive title—by handing Estancia a season-ending 38-13 defeat.
“We flat-out got outplayed in every facet of the game,” Estancia head coach Stewart Burnett said. “It was frankly a colossal failure on our part from top to bottom.”
Perhaps the biggest road block for the Bears was their inability to stop Eunice’s offense. Most of the damage was done by Cardinals freshman left-handed quarterback Mason Caperton, who threw four touchdown passes.
The 38 points was the most Estancia’s defense has allowed all season.
“Eunice clearly wanted it more than we did,” Burnett said. “They controlled the line of scrimmage on offense and defense and were vastly more physical than we were from start to finish.”
Bears senior running back Zeke Tapia tallied a respectable 202 yards on 42 carries and scored both of Estancia’s touchdowns. Tapia finished the season as Class 3A’s top running back with a total of 43 TDs, 41 rushing and two receiving, and a total of 2,745 yards.
The Bears closed out the 2016 campaign with a 10-2 record, 4-0 in district.
Leota started working for The Independent in 2006, working her way up through the ranks. An employee buyout in 2010 led to her ownership of the newspaper. Leota has served on the board of the N.M. Press Association, and is currently its First Vice President. She is passionate about health and wellness, especially mental health, and loves making art. She can be reached at [email protected]