Tigers stunned by an old foe, lose their first in 2018

27-0 drub­bing by the St. Pius X Sar­tans cast a long shadow over an oth­er­wise sunny Satur­day af­ter­noon

The Taos News - - SPORTS - By Sheila Miller

The St. Pius X Sar­tans, who won the 2016 5A State Cham­pi­onship and have been a thorn to Taos in the past, were re­dis­tricted back to 4A this year. And, their big school ways ap­par­ently paid off in their 27-0 roll over the Taos Tigers in Al­bu­querque Satur­day (Oct. 20).

Though the Taos de­fense did a com­mend­able job, the Tigers were un­able to hit their stride. The lack of rhythm com­bined with a se­ries of turnovers and mis­takes on spe­cial teams pre­sented Pius X with many op­por­tu­ni­ties. The Sar­tans trans­lated those open­ings into 20 points—plus seven more from a 40-plus yard pass from Derek Rivera to Isa­iah Grif­fin in the third quar­ter—into a win.

The first of sev­eral on­side kicks from the Sar­tans gave Taos the first pos­ses­sion. In­stead of end­ing with Taos on the board like most games this sea­son, a bob­bled snap had quar­ter­back Justin Good fall­ing on the ball in the fifth play of the game, then throw­ing the first in­ter­cep­tion in the sixth.

The Tigers de­fense stood strong and pre­vented the Sar­tans from cap­i­tal­iz­ing on the turnover. Three and out saw the ball back in the hands of the Tigers. Taos rushed three times but were shy of the first down.

For most of what re­mained of the first quar­ter, the Sar­tans con­trolled the ball and the clock. Though they didn’t make it to the end zone, a pass in­ter­fer­ence call fol­lowed im­me­di­ately by an un­sports­man­like con­duct penalty, both against the Tigers, left Taos with the ball on its own 3-yard line when the Sar­tans handed it over on downs.

Be­gin­ning the sec­ond quar­ter at 0-0 in­stead of their cus­tom­ary com­fort­able lead had the Taos side­line on edge. A false start made an un­char­ac­ter­is­tic three penal­ties on the Tigers in four plays.

Taos and Pius X traded un­event­ful pos­ses­sions un­til Taos got the ball back with about five and half min­utes in the still score­less half. Then Jonathan Garcia fum­bled deep in Taos ter­ri­tory. Pius X re­cov­ered the ball on the 12-yard line and got its first six from a short drive. The ex­tra point was blocked by Isa­iah Martinez.

An­other on­side kick gave Taos the ball on the 39-yard line, but a cou­ple of runs weren’t enough for the first down. Brian Mor­aga was set to punt but, to the sur­prise of all, threw a pass to Jonathan Garcia on the out­side—which was in­ter­cepted by the Sar­tans around the 47-yard line. A long quar­ter­back sneak and a pass to Brody Cast put six more on the board, though the Tigers re­fused to yield the two-point con­ver­sion, mak­ing the game 12-0.

On their fi­nal pos­ses­sion of the half, Taos made it within field-goal range. Rather than try for three, they went for the first down. They came close but no cigar, leav­ing the Sar­tans with the ball around their own 25-yard line and lit­tle time.

At half­time, the Tigers went into the locker room down for the first time this sea­son, but the large crowd of Taos fans was in good spir­its.

Felipe San­tis­te­van, the grand­fa­ther of Tiger Jonathan Garcia, was jovial. “Can’t you see we’re re­lated?” he said, mirth­ful. “Ev­ery­one says we look alike. It’s our calves.” Seated nearby was his mother, aged 91, great-grand­mother to Jonathan Garcia and also No. 7, Si­mon Tor­res, and his twin, cheer­leader Cheyenne Tor­res.

Both fam­ily mem­bers have been sup­port­ing the Taos Tigers through many years, both on and off the field. San­tis­te­van re­ported him­self as “the small­est line­backer in the state” on the 1971 Tigers team. He grinned while re­mem­ber­ing the first time his grand­son Jonathan, now a Taos All-State track star, beat him in a footrace. Jonathan was 8 years old.

As his team took the field for the sec­ond half, Coach Abreu en­cour­aged them. “Let’s have some fun!” Fun was in short sup­ply for Taos, how­ever.

The frus­tra­tion con­tin­ued. The magic play that would shift the en­ergy to fa­vor the Tigers never ma­te­ri­al­ized. Taos was shut out, al­low­ing 21 more points, most of them on turnovers.

A rest­less­ness cir­cu­lated through the Taos crowd in the third quar­ter. By the fourth, shouts to the ref­er­ees of “You’ve been one-sided all day!” and “It’s about time you use that flag!” could be heard from the stands.

The Tigers had the fi­nal pos­ses­sion. They fin­ished with their starters on the field, driv­ing hard to end the game with a Taos touch­down. The Sar­tans de­fense kept the pres­sure on Justin Good and the in­tended re­ceivers, and Taos left Milne Sta­dium with­out a point.

In his post-game dis­cus­sion with his team, coach Art Abreu

‘We gotta get back to work on Mon­day, back to play­ing our brand of foot­ball.’

— Coach Art Abreu

Jr. promised tough train­ing and a way out for any­one who didn’t want to go the dis­tance.

“It’s hard to win a foot­ball game when you lose the turnover game,” coach Abreu re­marked af­ter send­ing the team to the locker room. He ex­pressed re­morse for the loss, cit­ing him­self as re­spon­si­ble.

The Tigers no longer have a per­fect record for the sea­son, but re­silience and con­fi­dence come from know­ing it is pos­si­ble to get back up.

“We gotta get back to work on Mon­day,” said Abreu, “back to play­ing our brand of foot­ball.”

The Tigers are down, but not out. They play Po­joaque at home Fri­day (Oct. 26) at 7 p.m. and are on the road at Ber­nalillo Nov. 2. Wins will put them in good play­off po­si­tion.

Mor­gan Timms

Taos ju­nior wide re­ceiver An­gel Li­mas at­tempts to catch the ball in the end zone as St. Pius se­nior Martin Can­de­laria in­ter­cepts it Satur­day (Oct. 20) dur­ing Taos’ 27-0 loss to St. Pius X at Milne Sta­dium in Al­bu­querque. In what was per­haps the clos­est the Tigers came to scor­ing points, ref­er­ees de­ter­mined the pass in­com­plete.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.