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Cards, Elks both on rise in district

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By Dave Kavanaugh

Two of the most-improved prep football teams in the state meet up Friday night at Cardinal Stadium, each looking to establish itself as a legitimate contender out of District 2-3A.

Robertson (4-3, 0-1) plays host to Pojoaque (6-2, 1-1); kickoff is 7 p.m.

Under the guidance of coach Richard Martinez and staff, the Cardinals have built a winning record despite being a predominantly young group playing a rigorous schedule chock full of ranked teams.

Last week, the Cardinals upset then-No. 5 Socorro 20-13 on the road. Running back Dalan Abreu and QB Daniel Martinez, two of the club’s better pure athletes on both sides of the ball, played key roles in the victory.

Pojoaque is off to its best start in program history under first-year coach Quevin Redding, whose staff includes former West Las Vegas running back Michael Medina. Medina, the defensive coordinator, has helped the Elk “D” limit foes to 14 points or less in five of the team’s eight games.

The Elks won their first five games, including a 44-5 rout of Class 4A Española Valley and a 31-8 blowout of future district rival Taos. After a loss to Grants, the Elks beat host West Las Vegas 28-18 to open district play.  Raton knocked off Pojoaque 48-12 last week in Jacona.

Michael Garcia, a 5-8 senior, is the Elks’ quarterback and capable of either passing or running the ball himself. Two of his favorite targets are Robert Vigil, a 5-11 senior, and Carlos Vigil, a 5-8 junior.

Jeremy Martinez, a 5-9 cornerback, is a threat to break up or pick off passes.

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On Saturday, New Mexico Highlands (0-8, 0-6 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) has its best chance yet to end its current nine-game slide when the Cowboys visit Western New Mexico.

Kickoff is 1 p.m. in Silver City.

Like the Cowboys, the Mustangs have struggled and are 1-6 overall, 0-6 in the RMAC. They lost to Nebraska-Kearney 65-30 last week in Kearney.

Highlands won 17-14 last season in Las Vegas, tying the current ongoing “Warrior Helmet” series between the in-state rivals at 1-1.

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West Las Vegas’ football team has the week off. Mike Ulibarri and his Dons resume district play Oct. 30 when Raton comes to town.

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Away from the gridiron, NMHU’s cross country teams, led by coach Bob DeVries, begin their postseason march on Saturday with the RMAC meet in Denver.