The top-ranked Tigers (7-0) travel to Albuquerque on Saturday (Oct. 20) to face the fifth-ranked St. Pius X Sartans. Kickoff is at 12 noon.
The top-ranked Tigers (7-0, 2-0) travel to Albuquerque on Saturday (Oct. 20) to face the fifth-ranked St. Pius X Sartans (4-3, 2-0). Game time is noon. Historically, Taos has struggled against the private Catholic school. Pius has been in the same district with Taos multiple times in the past and the school won the state class 5A state championship in 2016. Reclassification and realignment make Taos and St. Pius league foes once again.
Recap of Grants game (Oct. 5):
In the moments following their opening district game in Grants Oct. 5, Coach Art Abreu Jr. stood stoically with his hands on his hips, directly on top of the painted 30-yard line of the Grants High School field. His gaze fixed on his wet shoes.
The drop in temperature in this western enclave was causing dew to gather on the thin blades of the natural grass turf. But the layer of prefrost could just as well have been from the icy stare cast down from this mildly disappointed manager. As his players gathered around him and joined in the silence, Abreu lifted the bill of his cap and wiped away beads of dew that had formed on his forehead as well. It was as much an actual and necessary rub as it was a symbolic gesture, having just pulled off a key league victory by a single point.
The message to his boys after a deep inhale and exhale was short and simple: "We need to get back to playing our brand of football."
The warnings and declarations about the looming week of practice uttered from Abreu's scratchy throat were vague and loose, but sounded scary nonetheless. It appeared Taos had some tough workouts coming.
Back to work – recap of Homecoming game (Oct. 12)
Fast forward one week, and the evidence was crystal clear. The Taos Tigers were back on track.
Abreu and company put on a show during their homecoming night against the Española Valley Sundevils. Standing tall and stout, the Tigers moved with purpose while gliding to a 56-0 stomp.
Two quick scores by starting running back Jonathan Garcia got the Tigers underway. Garcia's first touchdown was a 72-yard inside handoff on the first offensive snap of the game. His second score was a 27-yard scamper that occurred a mere five minutes later.
Running back Brian Moraga pumped in the next score for the Tigers on a 26 yard rush - breaking multiple tackles and literally running over Sundevil defenders on his way across the end zone line. A Justin Good pass to Anthony Maestas a few plays later made it 28-0.
After stifling Española's running game and forcing another three-and-out series deep in their own territory, Good returned the subsequent punt 53-yards to the end zone to finish the first stanza.
The game was shortened due to the "mercy rule" as senior Adam Vigil scored three more rushing touchdown in the second quarter.
Taos' defense came together for this solid team victory too as they forced multiple fumbles and shut down Española's air and ground game.
Abreu seemed satisfied with his team's focus.
When asked if he was as entertained as the rest of us fans in all these victories - whether it be a blowout or a nail-biter - Abreu had a sage response. "The players are running the plays that I'm telling them to run." said Abreu, who insisted that his guys on the field should get the lion's share of the credit during a win. "When they execute a specific play the way I envisioned it inside my head, then yes, I find extreme enjoyment in that."
"Ultimately, it comes down to working hard," said Abreu, who wryly smiled, lifted his index finger and altered his tone. "Check that. It's wanting to work hard."
-- Chap Grubb contributed to this story.
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