By Dave Wagner
After capturing six-man football’s District 3 championship on Saturday with a 28-20 win over Melrose in a battle of unbeatens, the Floyd Broncos have positioned themselves for a run at a state championship.
Their bid starts with a 1 p.m. quarterfinal contest on Saturday at Floyd against Gateway Christian, the District 4 runner-up. The Warriors (7-1) were unbeaten before losing to Tatum 66-20 last week.
Floyd coach Jeff Gillespie is wary of Gateway, even though the Warriors gave up almost as many points against Tatum as they had in their first seven games (86).
“They have a lot of good-looking athletes,” Gillespie said. “But I don’t really feel Gateway has played the strength of schedule us and Melrose and even Tatum have played.”
First-year Gateway coach Shaun Wigley acknowledges as much, but said the schedule was made before he became the coach. And, he added, the Warriors have come a long way from the start of two-a-days when just four players checked in.
“Just because things went right, people say we should’ve played a better schedule,” he said. “But hindsight is 20/20.”
The Broncos (8-0) and Warriors faced three common foes during the regular season, including Tatum, which lost 59-20 at Floyd in early September. Both teams posted easy wins over Hondo and Clovis Christian.
Wigley said Tatum provided the season’s first serious test for his squad.
“We were rolling along real well, and we got challenged,” he said. “We’re a young team; we got jumped on early and didn’t know how to respond.
“I think it gives our kids a little wakeup call. When you go 7-0 with a young team, it’s not as (positive) as you might think.”
The Broncos may have to guard against a letdown after their emotional win over Melrose, a team they could meet again in the state championship game on Nov. 13.
“We didn’t play very good in the second and third quarters,” senior running back-linebacker Manny Carrillo said. “Coach told us to suck it up, and that’s what we did.”
Wigley said he scouted Saturday’s Floyd-Melrose game, and came away suitably impressed.
“They just played a heck of a game,” he said. “Melrose is a heck of a team, and so is Floyd.”
While acknowledging that a rematch with Melrose is a distinct possibility, Carrillo maintained that the Broncos have their eyes on this weekend’s game and aren’t looking down the road.
“We just have to keep playing,” he said. “But I think we could meet (Melrose) again. We’ll be ready, and I’m sure they’ll be ready.”
Gateway Christian at Floyd
1 p.m. Saturday
Records: Gateway Christian 7-1, Floyd 8-0.
Coaches: Gateway Christian: Shaun Wigley, 1st year; Floyd, Jeff Gillespie, 2nd year.
Last week: Gateway lost at Tatum 66-20. Floyd won at home over Melrose 28-20.
Gateway players to watch: Jordan Olive, Sr. DE; Adrian Carrasco, Sr. RB-CB; Jevvon Hunter, So. QB-S; Marcus Gibbs, Jr. RB-CB.
Other games Saturday: New Mexico School for the Deaf at Animas (1 p.m.), Melrose at Tatum (noon), Magdalena at Mountainair (1:30 p.m.). Gateway-Floyd winner meets the Magdalena-Mountainair winner in the semifinals.