CARRIZOZO – From one half to the next, this was a completely different game.
After putting up 35 unanswered points in the first half, the Carrizozo Grizzly offense shut down in the third, unable to score or even move the ball thanks to turnovers and penalties.
Thankfully for Carrizozo, their defense was on point all night long, as the Grizzlies took a 45-0 District 3-eight man win over Mescalero, Oct. 14.
“Our defense has been great all season, that’s where our focus has been,” said Carrizozo coach Dale Jackson. “Our offense, we worked on us last week, not anyone else. I think we fixed the things that were ailing us.”
Carrizozo (5-1, 2-1 district) did almost all their damage with the run, amassing 306 yards on the ground on 41 plays, including a 66-yard ramble by quarterback Garrison Ventura with 10:19 left in the second quarter.
Ventura had 150 yards rushing on the night with two touchdowns, while Nikko Chavez added three scores of his own while gaining 97.
“We have some big linemen and got some good blocks,” Ventura said. “Our running backs keep pumping those legs and break those tackles.”
In contrast, Mescalero (3-5, 0-3) had just 2 yards on the entire night, and the only reason they were in the black was due to a 40-yard drive late in the fourth quarter that stalled at the Grizzly 17 as time ran out.
“It seems like we’ve regressed,” said Mescalero coach Leonard Velasquez. “We started the year with freshmen on the line, and they started getting hit and started getting a little timid.”
A big part of the Chiefs’ final drive was penalties assessed to Carrizozo. As a team, the Grizzlies were flagged for 170 yards, compared to just 20 against Mescalero.
Carrizozo’s final two games of the season are doozys – a game next week against unbeaten and top-ranked Gateway Christian, the team most think will win a state title, and a season finale against Mesilla Valley.
Mesilla is the only team that has seriously challenged Gateway other than defending state champ Melrose.
With a 5-1 record, things look pretty good as far as the Grizzlies’ post-season chances, although Jackson isn’t convinced.
“I think there’s still a question,” Jackson said. “How many from our district are they willing to take? We have four or five that are arguably in the top 12.
“We’re going into it believing we have to at least split the last two to make sure we’re in the playoffs,” he added.
As for Mescalero, the Chiefs host Mesilla Valley on Oct. 21.
“If we can salvage one out of two, it’s a possibility,” said Velasquez of his team’s postseason chances. “But at this point, I don’t know. We lost about six kids this week due to injury and grades, and moving people around hasn’t helped.
“But we started an eighth grader at middle linebacker (Dominic Chee) and he came on in the fourth quarter and ran the ball pretty well,” he continued. “Our junior high program this year did a pretty decent job.”