Walking along the sidelines before last Saturday’s district matchup Manzano High School’s head football coach Chad Adcox said he expected a hard-fought game.
It wasn’t an understatement.
The Monarchs rolled to an early 20-0 lead but needed a sturdy defensive effort to fend off the visiting Clovis Wildcats in the 27-14 victory at Wilson Stadium in Albuquerque.
“Nobody expected us to beat these guys,” Adcox said of the new district rival Wildcats. “It was an all-around good effort in a hot environment.” Adcox wasn’t just referring to the unseasonably warm 80-degree temperature.
The Wildcats stacked extra defenders at the line of scrimmage to try and stifle Manzano’s running game. “They were crowding the box,” Adcox said. “They knew we were going to run it, that was smart by them.”
But Clovis’ strategy came up short, and when tensions started running high the Wildcats got flagged for several penalties. One of those penalties—committed moments after the Wildcats had trimmed the deficit to 20-14—proved costly for Clovis.
Monarchs receiver Andrew Erickson went downfield on a deep route and Clovis defensive back Fuentes Austin repeatedly grabbed at him, drawing a flag for defensive holding and giving Manzano a first down at the Wildcats 30-yard line.
Two plays later, Monarchs running back Xavier Ivey-saud sliced through the line for a 23-yard touchdown, his third TD of the game.
“Coach is always telling me, ‘If the holes are clogged make your own,’ and that’s what I did,” Ivey-saud said. He had a team-high 30 carries for 92 yards.
After Manzano’s defense forced Clovis to punt, the Monarchs got the ball back with 3:30 left in the game. But on fourth down at midfield, quarterback Dakota Powell attempted a pass to Erickson and Austin intercepted it.
“We both had our hands on it and [Austin] came down with it, that was a good play by him,” said Erickson, who lives in Sandia Park.
Once again the Monarchs defense—who had forced six punts and recovered a fumble—shut the door on the Wildcats to secure the victory. “In the second half our offense came out a little flat but our defense was playing well, so I felt like we were OK,” Adcox said.
Manzano (5-2 overall, 2-0 District 2-6A) got into the end zone on its first two possessions to take an early 14-0 first quarter lead.
Ivey-saud capped the Monarchs’ 10-play opening drive with a 4-yard plunge. Alejandro Vallejos scampered in from the 2-yard line less than five minutes later.
Screen passes to Erickson on both possessions resulted in first downs that helped keep the drives alive. “Andrew’s a good receiver,” said Powell, a Cedar Crest resident. “I just put the ball where he can get it and he makes plays.”
Ivey-saud plowed into the end zone with just under a minute left in the second quarter to put the Monarchs up 20-0.
The Monarchs’ next test will be Friday when they take on district rival Eldorado.
Ger has been writing and shooting photos of high school sports for The Independent for 15 years. His dedication to youth athletics goes beyond sports reporting. He is past president of East Mountain Little League and works as a baseball umpire. He lives in Edgewood with his family.