Texico keeping eyes on the prize

Texico’s John Nate Williams pressures Springer QB Matt Tafoya during last week’s quarterfinal game in Texico. CNJ photo by Rick White.

Dave Wagner

All season long, the Texico Wolverines were gearing toward a possible third consecutive meeting against rival Fort Sumner in the Class 1A state championship game.

But the two-time defending state champion Foxes were upset at home in last week’s quarterfinals.

It might have been a bigger deal, the Wolverines say, except they’re still trying to get to the throne room themselves.

“I don’t think there’s any letdown,” Texico coach Mike Prokop said as top-ranked Wolverines (9-0) prepare to face Cloudcroft (4-7) in a 2 p.m. semifinal game on Saturday in Texico. “Like I tell our kids, you can only take care of yourselves. (Fort Sumner isn’t) in the playoffs now, so we have to worry about Cloudcroft, Capitan and Loving.”

Junior quarterback-linebacker Braden Vaughan said it’s time to move on after Fort Sumner’s loss.

“A state championship is a state championship, no matter what,” he said. “That’s been our goal all season.”

Capitan takes on the Falcons in the other semifinal game, set for 6 p.m. Saturday in Artesia. If Texico advances, the championship will be played at either Texico (if Capitan wins) or Loving, likely on Nov. 22.

Cloudcroft has a relatively young team, with good size in the line and “fair speed,” Prokop said.

The Bears fell to 0-5 after a 53-0 loss at Fort Sumner in late September, but they’ve turned their season around by winning three in a row, including a 35-0 quarterfinal-round blanking of Escalante.

“They run a no-huddle offense, so that’ll be kind of different,” Vaughan said. “We’ve got to take it like we take every other game — you can’t be looking ahead, because that’s when you get in trouble.”

Vaughan said the Bears run some counter-traps and operate out of a shotgun formation at times, essentially trying to take what a defense gives them.

If form holds, the Wolverines may be headed for a rematch with Loving, whom they whitewashed 33-0 in their district opener. The Falcons beat Capitan soundly during the regular season.

And Vaughan assures that the coaches won’t allow a letdown.

“They don’t let us take anybody lightly, that’s for sure,” he said. “They make sure we give 110 percent each game, no matter who we’re playing.”

Game day

Cloudcroft (4-7) at Texico (9-0)

What: Class 1A semifinals

When: 2 p.m. Saturday

Cloudcroft players to watch: T.J. Blette, Sr., RB-LB; Ryan Scott, Sr., WR-S; Tracy Naugle, Sr., G-DT.

Quotable: “It’s a little bit of a letdown, but there’s still four good teams left. It’s disappointing, but that’s the way it goes.” — Texico coach Mike Prokop, whose squad had anticipated the possibility of a third consecutive championship game matchup against rival Fort Sumner. The two-time champion Foxes were upended by Loving 7-0 at home last week