101.7 The Team returns its coverage of high school football for the 2018 season this Friday with the first Game of the Week of the season. To kick things off, we take you to Milne Stadium, when the Valley Vikings face the Albuquerque High Bulldogs in a contest between two former district foes.
With the new NMAA classifications and alignments, Albuquerque High and Valley are now in two separate spots now. The Bulldogs were slated to compete in Class 6A, District 2 this season alongside Clovis, Eldorado, La Cueva, Manzano, and Sandia, but they instead chose to go independent for the next two years. The Vikings now slide into Class 5A, District 5, competing against Belen, Los Lunas, and Valencia.
Valley head coach Judge Chavez rightfully pointed out to the Albuquerque Journal and 101.7 The TEAM’s James Yodice that this move to Class 5A is where they should’ve been competing in the past few years despite their enrollment saying otherwise. “We’re in a position now where we don’t have any excuses,” Chavez told Yodice.
Albuquerque High’s move to independent status was welcomed with open arms by the players, according to head coach Tim Johnson. “I was shocked at some of the upperclassmen [who] said that they understood what we are doing. They were very accepting of it,” Johnson said to the ABQ Journal.
Now onto the upcoming game. For the away team in this contest in the Vikings, they kick off the season looking to bounce back from their 3-7 record last season, while also seeking their first winning-record season since 2013 when they made a run in the playoffs. Valley has a very senior-brimming offense, planning on returning six starters. Manny Sanchez-Vargas will lead the offense at the quarterback position. The 5’10” senior takes over for Naseem Madani, who was last year’s QB for the Vikings.
AJ Beltran, a 5’7” senior, will assume running back duties. Also returning on the offensive side of the ball for Valley will be wide receivers Jove Messenger and Garrett Moseley, all seniors. “We feel we have an excellent running back in AJ Beltran and a very fine quarterback in Manny Sanchez. We plan to run and throw as close to 50% each as possible,” said Coach Chavez about this group.
Defensively for the Vikings, Moseley will serve as a defensive back on that side of the ball. Senior Marcos Valencia will be his company at the defensive end position. Junior Jerome Barboa and senior David Lease will lead the way as the defensive tackles. “We are going to rely on our size and quickness and the leadership of our seniors on that side of the ball.” Chavez also said about his defense.
The adversary in Albuquerque High seeks their second at or above .500 season under head coach Johnson this season. Senior Dominic Mesgale is returning to lead the offense at the quarterback position. Last season, Mesgale threw for 1,251 yards and 11 touchdowns. Senior Savion Andrews will be the other key piece for the Bulldogs on offense, returning after a 428 yard and three touchdown season as a running back last year. “Last season was really my first year running the rock, I’ve just been getting better at reading the holes, exploding through the holes,” said Andrews.
Andrews recently took a visit to the University of North Carolina and is drawing interest from both the Tar Heels and Eastern New Mexico. Anthone Stevens will lead the receiving core for the Bulldogs, catching for 448 yards and four touchdowns last season. “We’re a little bit more balanced now as we step into this season, but definitely the run game is something we’re looking forward to prospering with this year,” Coach Johnson said about his offensive scheme.
Christian Carreathers leads the defense for the Bulldogs, the defensive tackle that is gaining interest from the University of New Mexico and ENMU. Last season, Carreathers picked up 65 tackles and three sacks. Junior Alex Ortiz and senior Jalen Smith will be in the backfield as the safeties, the two combined for 112 tackles last season. Andrews also comes in at cornerback for the Bulldogs. “That is going to be the signature of our football team, most of those starters that are coming back for us are on the defensive side of the ball, our secondary and defensive line are all returners.” Coach Johnson had to say about his defense.
On the call for Friday’s game at Milne Stadium will be Scott Galetti and David Williams. This is the sixth year that Galetti and Williams will join forces during the high school football year. The writer will return as halftime show host and postgame interviewer, while Mike Burt returns as studio producer of the broadcast. The crew will also be adding a new member to the team, as Jaime Munoz, a Manzano High School graduate and member of last year’s state championship team, will assume the role of on-site producer and spotter.