The Taos Tigers and Santa Fe High School Demons each came into Friday’s (Sept. 15) homecoming game with expectations and high hopes, respectively.
Taos was riding a three-game win streak to start the 2017 season and was aiming to go 4-0 for the first time since 2003, coming off big road wins against the New Mexico Military Institute Colts and Hope Christian Huskies the previous two weeks. Santa Fe was hoping to end a very long losing streak that has persisted almost three years. The last time the Demons charted a win was Oct. 3, 2014 – downing the Los Alamos Hilltoppers in a 50-0 blowout.
The hometown team did not disappoint people in the crowd who came out to cheer on their Tigers on homecoming night. Taos went wire to wire to completely dominate the Demons, winning by a final score of 56-14.
The four wins in a row is the best start for a Taos Tiger team since the squad started the year with six straight wins 14 years ago before losing to Los Alamos – a team that was a district rival at the time. Taos would later lose to the St. Pius X Spartans to finish with an overall record of 8-2 and 2-2 in District 2-4A – eliminating them from state playoff contention (before seeding began in 2010 where the top 12 teams were invited to a postseason playoff based on overall and district records, as well as strength of schedule computations). At the time, there were five classifications in the state, with 5A teams being the largest schools in New Mexico, and no more than eight teams in any class making the state playoff bracket.
Acutely aware of the historical implications and comparisons that creep into conversations inside local restaurants between sips of coffee, coach Art Abreu Jr. was careful to keep the win in perspective – limiting his postgame comments to reflect the “here and now.”
“Our seniors did what they needed to do, our juniors did what they needed to do and our sophomores stepped it up as well,” said Abreu, alluding to the various players who were credited with a score during the game. “And I can’t say enough about the great job my dad [Art Abreu Sr.] and the other line coaches are doing with the offensive and defensive line personnel.”
Much of the credit for the plethora of touchdowns earned on the ground and in the air thus far is due to the strength of Taos’ “O” line. Averaging a beefy 240 pounds, the unit is also fast and smart. “As a group, the line is coordinated and is moving opposing defensive lines 5 to 8 yards backwards before they get any resistance,” said Abreu Jr. “That makes us coaches look good when we draw up the plays.”
Taos opens the District 2-4A season with a road game against the Santa Fe Indian School (SFIS) Braves, who also own a 4-0 overall record and currently sit atop the Class 4A standings. The game is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 21.
The big rivalry game of the year will follow when the Tigers travel to Las Vegas to challenge the formidable Robertson Cardinals Sept. 29. The Cardinals also are at 4-0 overall and join Taos, SFIS and Moriarty as the remaining undefeated teams in Class 4A. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.