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Birds hope for homecoming respite

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By Dave Kavanaugh

Robertson head football coach Leroy Gonzalez has stuck with a familiar refrain the past several seasons — play a bunch of tough schools early to get his team battle-tested in time for the District 2-3A portion of the schedule.

It’s a formula that has worked in terms of district competitiveness, although the rigorous early slate tends to take a toll.

The Cardinals (1-3) have had no gimmes in the first month of the season, playing a resurgent Portales, always tough Lovington, Class 2A state champ Santa Rosa and — last week in a 50-0 setback — 3A kingpin St. Mike’s.

They’ll be looking to put that last one behind them when they host struggling 4A program Capital at 7 p.m. Friday for homecoming.

The Jaguars, who have the program’s original mentor Bill Moon back on the sidelines, won their opener over Socorro but later forfeited due to reported use of an ineligible player. Since then, they haven’t scored a point in blowouts at Valley and vs. Gallup.

Elsewhere on the gridiron this weekend:

• West Las Vegas (1-3) has lost two in a row since beating up on Española Valley. The Dons and coach Robert Alarcon hope for a breakthrough on the road Friday night at Hatch Valley. But the Bears are 3-1 with wins over New Mexico Military, Estancia and Texico. Last week, they lost a close 35-30 tally vs. unbeaten Silver, which has been one of 3A’s better teams.

• New Mexico Highlands (2-1) will test  its record at Colorado School of Mines on Saturday afternoon in Golden, Colo. The Orediggers also are 2-1 and coming off a 62-22 rout of Black Hills State. QB Matt Brown went 31 of 40 for 380 yards through the air and rushed for another 85, earning a national player of the week award.

Brown and Highlands’ own prolific passer Emmanuel Lewis could have quite a shootout.