By Dave Wagner
The Texico-Farwell Raiders had the best of it on Saturday in both championship games of Play Inc. youth football at Jim Hill Field.
The Raiders got past the Friona Chiefs 16-14 in the Senior League (ages 11-12), while Texico-Farwell also claimed the crown in the Junior League (ages 9-10) with a 30-0 victory over the Zia Cowboys. Both Raiders squads finished the season 10-0.
The playoffs include eight of the 12 teams from both Juniors and Seniors, with the two division winners in each seeded first and second.
Running back Rhett Martin scored on a 3-yard run and set up the Senior Raiders’ second touchdown with a long punt return. That tally was made by fullback Lucas Walthers on a 2-yard run.
Seth Bailey ran in both two-point conversions.
They needed every point. The only difference turned out to be a missed conversion after the Chiefs’ second score, and the Friona team came up short on a couple of late opportunities.
Martin ended the Chiefs’ final bid with an interception on the last play of the game.
“I didn’t expect to go undefeated, but this team was very talented and deserved it,” said Senior Raiders coach Jake Boazman, who coached the majority of his players the past two years at the Junior level. “They were the best team in the league, in my opinion.”
The Chiefs gave them all they wanted.
“It was the closest game we had all year,” Boazman said. “We didn’t play Friona all year, so we didn’t know what to expect. But they were a good team, and they played us tough.”
The Junior Raiders had a much easier time. Justin Graham ran for two touchdowns while Trey Orozco ran for a score and also threw a TD pass to Donovan Johnson.
“They did great,” said coach Sammy Herrera, who oversees a program which consist of 12 teams this year at both the Junior and Senior levels. “The Cowboys are a good team. Gary Morris coaches their team, and he helps me coach our traveling team.
“We figured it would be a little tougher game, but we jumped on them pretty quick.”
Herrera, who has been running the league since 1996 when there were only seven teams, said the 24 teams participating this year is a high-water mark. He said Play Inc. hopes to add six more teams in 2004.
The current league also includes squads from Hereford, Friona, Melrose, Muleshoe, Dimmitt and Sudan.