The Taos Tigers prepare for the 1 p.m. kickoff of their first playoff game of the season this week, Saturday (Nov. 17).
Similarities and Differences
Both teams have quarterbacks who can run the ball and often do. Taos and Lovington have great defensive records and they each put a lot of points on the board. What separates the two teams is style of play.
Lovington is a passing team. They are big and powerful. They are able to gain big yardage consistently. They are good at forcing turnovers, so relaxing while keeping hold of the ball will be important. On the other hand, with the ball in the air so often, the Taos defense might be able to add to the 11 interceptions thrown by Lovington quarterback Casey Perez so far this year.
Some things that may help Taos: It's warmer in Lovington and the altitude is just under 4,000 feet. Though the temperature is expected to be relatively mild on Saturday, it is still likely to be 10 degrees colder than in Lovington. Combined with the thinner air, Taos itself could provide the Tigers a small edge.
The Taos Tigers
Defense: Lovington quarterback Casey Perez has an arm, and the Wildcats use it to great effect. In order to move on to the semifinals, the Tiger defense, especially the corners and safety, need to shut down the big-yardage plays that are a Lovington specialty.
Special teams: Much of the work of winning football games comes down to not making mistakes. The Tigers special teams will benefit from keeping their heads clear and from showing up when their number is called.
Offense: One great strength of the Tiger offense is its rushing game. The offensive line provides lots of space for ballcarriers, allowing Taos to make steady and consistent progress down the field. A smoothly functioning Taos offense should be able to avoid holding penalties.
Mental game: All teams make mistakes. Recovering quickly enables some of them to be championship teams. Engaging one play at a time and rebounding from temporary setbacks are mental habits of winning teams.
Final thoughts: Saturday's game is likely to be fun to watch and hard to play. Keeping tight coverage on the Lovington receivers and cool heads could help the Tigers come out on top.
Arcenio J. Trujillo contributed to this analysis.
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