Magdalena’s steers are headed to the Class A postseason after stopping Alamo Navajo 60-6 on Oct. 21 and qualifying for the state tournament over the weekend.
The Steers are ranked third in the latest New Mexico Coaches poll and set behind Fort Sumner House and Lordsburg, but the state tournament ranking uses the MaxPreps poll, where the 6-3 Steers are ranked fourth.
Regardless of Magdalena’s ranking, the No. 4 Steers (playoff bracket seeding) get to play host to No. 5 Tatum (5-4), and it’s probably not going to be as easy as last time.
Friday’s 6 p.m. game will be Tatum’s second trip to Magdalena this year. The two teams faced each other in the season opener on Aug. 19, and the Steers handed the Coyotes a 44-6 loss.
Magdalena fans may expect a repeat, but Tatum is vastly improved and did better than the Steers against top-ranked and state-title favorite Lordsburg. The reward for winning this matchup is a repeat against No. 1 Lordsburg in the state semifinals.
Against Alamo (0-8), things went pretty much as expected, considering the Cougars had nine players and ended the game with seven due to injuries.
Magdalena owned a 16-0 lead before ever taking an offensive snap as Kael Stephens returned the opening kickoff for a 60-yard return for the game’s first score.
Kaleb Castanon scored the extra points on a run and tacked on the Steer’s next touchdown on a 65-yard punt return. Jaydon Jaramillo’s run added two more points to Magdalena’s tally. Castanon’s next highlight came on defense with a fumble recovery on the Cougars’ next possession.
With the playoffs in sight and the need to work out his sophomore quarterback Joseph Zamora, coach Danny Daniels elected to keep senior Joshua Baca on the sidelines. It was a move designed to bolster Zamora’s confidence and keep his starter healthy.
“We wanted to get a good look at Joseph. This was a good game to do that, and we want to give him some confidence going into next season. Especially knowing that next year he’ll be the leader of the team,” Daniels said.
Zamora gave his coaches an eyeful. So did senior D’Shaun Vinyard, who was on the receiving end of three straight scoring passes from the sophomore. Zamora found Vinyard for scores of 50 and 30 yards, and then set up the third touchdown with a fumble recovery and a 36-0 lead.
From there, it was just a matter of making it to halftime as Daniel Martinez scored on a 39-yard run, and Cobre Mexicano’s big return on a punt set up his touchdown on the next play. Jayden Piasso’s fumble recovery set up the Steers’ final score as Baca found Shane Montoya on a TD pass for a 60-0 margin.
To Alamo’s credit, the Cougars never gave up despite being overwhelmed by the Steers’ defense.
Sophomore running back Jurrale Tsosie scored the Cougars’ lone touchdown on a 60-yard punt return when he got around the corner.
“I was running for my life out there,” Tsosie said. “I was just happy that we were able to score a touchdown.”
So was Alamo coach Wyatt Billy, but he was even prouder that his team never quit. Billy was emotional as he talked about his team.
“They stuck to it all the way. They fought as hard as they could. And they never gave up,” Billy said. That last play showed it. They did the best they could, and they gave it their all.”
The Cougars’ play wasn’t lost on Daniels either.
“I’m not happy they lost two guys to injury. They played tough and never stopped against us,” Daniels said. “I know they’re having a hard season, but we’re here to compete, and those kids are here to compete and to have the football experience, and that’s why we’re all here.”