Saturday, November 17, 2007

Onate football at Manzano, Nov. 17

Knights hope to spring upset at Manzano
By Felix Chavez
Sun-News Reporter
LAS CRUCE S - The last time Onate High School and Manzano High played a football game, the Knights threw for 258 yards and had plenty of scoring chances.
But the Knights couldn't finish potential scoring drives and the Monarchs walked away with a 21-7 season-opening win.
However, today at Wilson Stadium in Albuquerque, the 10th-seeded Knights get a chance to earn revenge agains the No. 7 seed in a first round, Class 5A football game. The winner advances to next week's quarterfinal round against No. 2 Las Cruces High at the Field of Dreams.
"We feel like Manzano has improved, they are throwing the ball a bit more and they seem to have gotten better on defense as well," Knights coach Kelly McKee said. "We've had some good practices and this is a big opportunity in front of us."
Manzano is led by quarterback Matt Dalzell, who has thrown for 1,263 yards and rushed for 760 more. The Knights will also have to keep an eye out for running back Jordan Llamas, who has 643 yards rushing and receiver Seth Maisano, who has caught 19 passes for 313 yards.
The Monarchs are 8-2 on the season, their only losses being to Mayfield and Eldorado. The Monarchs lost 25-24 to Eldorado in the regular season final and finished second in District 5-5A.
Meanwhile, the 4-6 Knights hit their stride in District 3-5A action, beating Alamogordo and Gadsden to earn a spot in this year's playoffs. The Knights are one of four teams in the district to make the playoffs along with Mayfield, Las Cruces High and Alamogordo.
Both the Knights and Monarchs have been off for two weeks.
"For us because we are young, the extra practice helps and the playoff experience is good for us," McKee said. "This team reminds of 2003 when we had a young team after winning the 4A title in 2002. We got better as the season went along and it helped us down the road."
The Knights, who battled injuries throughout the year, are getting healthy with various skill players back in the lineup. Quarterback Eric Flores has thrown for 2,265 yards this season and his favorite target has been Gaby Taney, who has caught 78 passes for 983 yards. Running back Zach Hernandez will need a big effort today if the Knights want to win. Hernandez has rushed for 452 yards on 87 carries.
"Onate has certainly improved as the season has gone on," Manzano coach Aaron Ocampo said. "We feel like we have gotten better as well. We've had two weeks off and our kids are excited about playing again. It was a good game against Eldorado, we just made a few too many mistakes and didn't capitalilze on a couple of situations. We have to defend Onate's passing game well and be consistent."
Today's game begins at 1:30 p.m. and can be heard live on KSNM-AM 570.

Felix Chavez can be reached at fchavez@lcsun-news.com