Texico senior Johnny Serrano is the leading rusher for the Wolverines, who have won 21 straight games. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)
By John Eisel: CNJ sports writer
After a month on the road, including all of its district games, Texico starts defense of its Class 1A state football title at home.
Winners of 21 straight games, the top-ranked Wolverines host Capitan on Saturday in one of three area playoff games.
Texico coach Mike Prokop said playing on the road was starting to get to his team a little, but being at home with the playoffs looming has energized his players.
“They know what’s ahead of them, they know what to do,” Prokop said.
Fort Sumner hosts Navajo Pine on Saturday in another Class 1A playoff contest. In the six-man playoffs, Melrose makes an 11-hour journey across the state to Animas for a second-round game at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Fort Sumner (7-3) is on a five-game winning streak, thanks in part to the return of several injured players and cutting back on turnovers.
Navajo Pine (6-3) is in a similar predicament as Melrose. The school is located on the New Mexico-Arizona border.
Navajo Pine is a senior-laden team from District 1-1A.
Fort Sumner coach Dexter McDaniel said Najavo Pine prefers to throw the ball, but when it does run, it has a large fullback to pound the ball.
However, McDaniel is more concerned about how his team plays than what Navajo Pine does.
“We just need to take care of business,” he said.
Capitan (3-6) started the season 1-6, but won its final two games in District 4-1A to qualify for the playoffs.
Prokop said the Tigers are better than their record indicates.
“When you get in the playoffs, you can’t go by the record, you just go out and play,” he said.
Prokop said Capitan likes to mix up its alignment on the defensive line and attack the quarterback.
Offensively, the Tigers like to throw the ball out of the Wing-T, which is mostly known as a running formation with lots of sweeps and misdirection plays.
“It’s just hard to get a handle on them,” Prokop said.
Melrose (9-1) beat Animas (6-1) in last year’s playoffs, rolling to a 68-21 win as Carlos Ruiz ran for 435 yards and seven touchdowns.
However, that game was in Melrose. Now the Buffaloes must make the return in the state’s playoff system of alternating home sites after the first round. The Buffaloes left at noon Thursday for the Saturday afternoon game.