Taos Tigers sending three to ‘North-South All-Star’ football game in June

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Due to their outstanding performance on the gridiron, Taos Tigers seniors Ryan McCarty, Johnny Montaño and Ronnie Salazar will soon trade their orange-and-black uniforms for the exclusive garnet hue of the top-half of New Mexico’s best. The Taos trio has been selected to play in the Class 3A/4A “North-South All-Star” football game June 9.

All three seniors were recently named to the all-district team for their accomplishments in their respective positions in a league (District 2-4A) that grew to seven teams in 2016 due to the inclusion of the Bernalillo Spartans, Santa Fe Indian School and St. Michael’s Horsemen.

McCarty had an outstanding 2016 season as a powerful running back on offense and disruptive defensive back for the Taos Tigers, who finished third in the expanded district and ended the regular season ninth overall in Class 4A. On the year, McCarty was handed the ball 247 times and rushed for 1,751 yards, for an average of just more than 7 yards per carry. McCarty finished the season with 31 rushing touchdowns. He also caught 15 passes from Taos quarterback Jude Suazo for an additional 301 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Those scores were augmented by 1,172 yards from 31 kick returns — three were for touchdowns. In total, McCarty ended his senior year with 3,224 all-purpose yards and 37 touchdowns.

Salazar was credited with 38 catches on the season for a total of 525 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. The speedy wide-out also had 19 kick returns for 609 yards and two touchdowns for 1,134 total yards. According to the New Mexico High School Coaches Association (NMHSCA) website, Salazar is listed twice on the 2016 4A all-state second team – as a wide receiver on offense and in the secondary on defense.

Montaño was a reliable offensive lineman who was tasked with creating lanes for McCarty and protecting Suazo as he made those pass completions to McCarty and Salazar. He also played a vital role on the defensive side of the ball – leading a young group of linemen who, individually, rarely missed a down.

The Taos Tigers had an overall record of 6-5 in 2016 under second-year coach Art Abreu, finishing third in District 2-4A and making it to the first round of the state tournament for the second consecutive year.

The three Taos players will be joined by 15 other players from District 2-4A, including two from Bernalillo and Pojoaque Valley, four from Robertson, six from St. Michael’s and one from West Las Vegas.

The 3A/4A game will take place at the Nusenda Community Stadium located at 1601 Arroyo Vista Blvd. NW in Albuquerque. Kickoff is tentatively slated for 1 p.m.

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