By Jesse Wolfersberger: CNJ staff writer
The Clovis High football team now knows who will stand between it and a berth in the Class 5A state finals.
Onate (11-1) rallied from 16 points down to beat Alamogordo 33-16 on Saturday to advance to a semifinal matchup with Clovis (11-1).
C.J. Oakley finished with 201 yards on 32 carries to lead Onate. The Knights rushed for 195 yards in the second half.
The semifinal game will be at 1 p.m. Saturday at Las Cruces.
“Naturally we wanted to play Alamogordo so we could host another home game,” Clovis assistant Darren Kelley said Saturday night. “But we’re just happy we’re playing at this point in the season.”
Clovis has played its last three games at Leon Williams Stadium and outscored its opponents 133-26 in that stretch.
“We’ve done a good job on the road this year,” Kelley said. “We played a heck of a road schedule.”
The Cats beat La Cueva, Rio Rancho, Artesia and Hobbs — all playoff teams — on the road. Clovis’ only loss was in Week 1 at top-ranked Mayfield.
“On paper, it’s a real even matchup,” Kelley said of next week’s clash.
Mayfield, the top seed in the 5A bracket, advanced to the semifinals Friday with a 10-3 win over Rio Grande. Besides Mayfield’s 75-yard touchdown drive on its first possession, the game was a defensive struggle with the teams exchanging a couple of field goals.
Mayfield will play La Cueva, which moved on after a 28-21 win against Eldorado. Mayfield beat the Bears 30-0 earlier this season.
Manzano coach Aaron Ocampo said traveling to Clovis can be a daunting task for any team.
“I think the big thing with us, and with Albuquerque teams in general is we come here intimidated mentally,” Ocampo said. “I think some times the Clovis mystique can get to us, and it definitely got to our kids tonight.”
Clovis senior Chris Finch said, for him, the mystique means the fans.
“It must have been the crowd,” Finch said. “We take advantage of having a big crowd. For most of the Albuquerque teams this is a brand new experience for them. It’s amazing to see all these people come out in the cold just to watch football.”
When quarterback Devin Sweet delivered the ball to Brian Mead on a screen pass in the third quarter, a Manzano defender was setting his sights on the junior running back.
“As soon as I turned around I saw that guy coming,” Mead said. “I’m thinking I’m gonna get hit. I have no idea how I got past that guy.”
Mead sidestepped the defender and raced 33 yards for the touchdown.
“There was good blocking down field by the line and by Keaton Howell who was blocking down field, also,” Mead said.