Fort Sumner’s Ryan Fikany gets ready to stiffarm Texico’s Billy Scott in Saturday’s Class 1A state championship game at Fort Sumner. (CNJ staff photo: Jesse Wolfersberger)
By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
FORT SUMNER — Outside of two sustained drives, Texico held the Fort Sumner offense in check Saturday afternoon.
But the top-ranked Foxes made their early scoring marches stand up and won their sixth Class 1A state football championship since 1995, turning back the two-time defending champion Wolverines 14-7.
Senior quarterback Derek Dimitroff capped both marches with short touchdown runs, and Fort Sumner (11-2) weathered a late comeback bid to nail down the title. Five of their championship game victories have been at the Wolverines’ expense.
“They’re a heck of a football team, but we knew that going in,” said second-year Fort Sumner coach Dexter McDaniel, a longtime assistant in the program built by Mario Martinez. “We had a hard time on offense, but they’re big and strong and they never quit.
“I’m really pleased with how well our defense stopped their run game.”
Texico (7-5), ranked second and playing in its fifth consecutive 1A final, stiffened on defense in the second half, but the Wolverines didn’t reach the end zone until senior quarterback Zane Anderson led a six-play, 80-yard march starting midway through the final period.
Anderson connected twice with junior Justin Garrison on the drive, including a 57-yard slant on the first play and a fourth-and-9, 16-yard completion on a rollout pass that put the ball at the Foxes’ 6.
Junior Dustin McDaniel plowed in over right tackle on the next play with 4:54 to go. But the Foxes ran off 10 plays after recovering an onside kick, and didn’t turn the ball over on downs until only 16 seconds remained.
“They controlled the ball and we didn’t,” Texico coach Mike Prokop said. “It just came down to a few things and they just got the job done.
“I’m proud of our kids. They fought hard and did a great job.”
Fort Sumner marched 47 yards in 11 plays on its first possession, with Dimitroff blasting in from the 1, then used up nearly eight minutes of the second stanza on a 14-play, 77-yard drive that ended with another Dimitroff QB sneak, this one from 3 yards out with 37 seconds remaining.
“We wanted to just come out and pound it (early),” Dimitroff said. “We knew they were going to be big and strong, and we wanted to see if we could do that.”
The Foxes were limited to 82 yards and four first downs in the second half — much of that coming on their final possession. Dimitroff said they knew what they had to do after Texico scored.
“It kind of worried some of (his teammates),” he said of the Wolverines’ touchdown, “but we just had to keep it cool and play through it.”
Senior Ryan Fikany rushed for 71 yards on 18 carries while Dimitroff finished with 54 yards on 19 totes.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” said Fikany, who was a regular on the Foxes’ last two title teams as an eighth-grader and freshman in 2001 and 2002. “We wanted to be on defense first today; we knew field position would be a big factor.
“We ran the same things we’ve run this whole year. These guys (Wolverines) are big, so we had to change up a little.”
Fort Sumner finished with a 199-191 edge in total offense. Garrison accounted for more than half of Texico’s total with his two catches for 73 yards and 15 carries for 55 yards.
Fort Sumner 14, Texico 7
Texico 0 0 0 7 — 7
Fort Sumner 7 7 0 0 — 14
FS — Derek Dimitroff 1-yard run (Ryan Fikany kick), 2:32
FS — Dimitroff 3-yard run (Fikany kick), :37
T — Dustin McDaniel 6-yard run (Zane Anderson kick), 4:54
First downs 7 11
Rushes-yards 40-118 49-176
Passing yards 73 23
Total yards 191 199
Comp-att-int 2-5-2 2-8-0
Punting 3-20.0 5-34.6
Fumbles-lost 3-1 2-0
Penalties-yards 3-23 3-20
Rushing — Texico, Justin Garrison 15-55, McDaniel 7-31, Anderson 6-26, Weston Casey 9-5, Carlos Meza 3-1. Fort Sumner, Fikany 18-71, Dimitroff 19-54, Jeremy Gauna 8-43, Richard Canales 4-8.
Passing — Texico, Anderson 2-5-2-73. Fort Sumner, Dimitroff 2-8-0-23.
Receiving — Texico, Garrison 2-73. Fort Sumner, Gauna 1-18, Fikany 1-5.
Records — Texico 7-5, Fort Sumner 11-2.