Roswell’s Michael Ponce shakes off a Ruidoso tackler during the Coyotes 54-6 over the Warriors Friday night [auth] at the Wool Bowl. (David Rocha Photo)
The Roswell High Coyotes started the season off with a bang, downing the visiting Ruidoso Warriors 54-6 Friday night at the Wool Bowl in a contest where almost everything went the home team’s way.
Take away one big return by the Warriors and a Coyote turnover and Roswell may have had a shutout victory with very little for head coach Jeff Lynn to criticize.
“I thought we played well,” Lynn said after the game. “Give Ruidoso a lot of credit. That’s a scrappy football team over there. But we came out and did what we needed to do.”
The Coyotes took the opening kickoff and marched 73 yards down the field for the game’s first score as junior fullback Gabriel Najar barreled up the middle on second-and-goal from the 5-yard-line.
The 5-foot-8, 190 pound bull totaled 105 yards on 13 carries, all in the Coyotes’ dominating first half.
“He’s a big, strong kid and he’s the kind of fullback we need in this offense,” Lynn said of Najar. “He did a great job tonight and was very hard to tackle.”
Ruidoso answered with a long return by junior Isaiah Otero, who took the ball all the way to the Coyotes’ 11-yard-line before Michael Ponce could run him down.
With a short field to work with, the Warriors pounded the ball up the middle and completed a short pass before Otero was able to sneak the ball in from the 1-yard-line to tie the game at 6 with 7:04 remaining in the first quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, senior running back Daniel Sosa dropped the ball at the five, but scooped it up and made a few moves before leaping over a pile of players and going down at the 28.
The Coyotes went back to work with another healthy dose of Najar rushes and first-down pass from junior starting quarterback Bear Kyser to Sosa, but a slow handoff and a quick blitz by Ruidoso led to a fumble and recovery by the Warriors.
After a short first series, backed up in the own red zone, the Coyote defense looked much better in their second appearance on the field as they shut down the Ruidoso offense, ultimately taking the ball back on downs as a trio of Coyotes chased down Warrior quarterback Brennam Stewart for a fourth-down sack.
The Coyotes tried to go deep on the first play of the series, but Ponce couldn’t come down with the Kyser throw. Roswell went back to what worked in the first drive, this time handing off to Joaquin Nieto and Ponce as well as Najar.
On fourth-and-1 at the five, Kyser kept the ball, absorbed a hit and picked up the first down. Two plays later Kyser snuck into the end zone to make the score 12-6 with less than a minute left in the lengthy first quarter. Najar took a handoff up the middle for the two-point conversion to make the score 14-6.
Otero tried for another big return on the kickoff, but the Roswell coverage team kept him on the Ruidoso side of the field.
On the next play, senior safety Brandon Perez picked off a Ruidoso pass and returned the ball to the Warriors’ 17-yard-line. Two Najar carries later and the Coyotes were up 22-6.
Roswell forced a three-and-out on the next series before Ponce returned a Ruidoso punt from his own 35 to the Warriors’ 30-yard-line.
The Coyotes went back to the running game, spreading the ball out among their stable of backs before Ponce walked in untouched for another Big Red touchdown to put the score at 28-6 with 9:19 left in the half.
The Coyote defense punished the Warriors on the ensuing series, eventually putting the visitors in a fourth-and-30 situation.
Ponce returned the punt to the Ruidoso 10-yard-line but an illegal block brought the big play back.
The Coyotes scored again a few minutes later as junior running back Alfonso Sanchez stretched to break the plane of the goal line as he was being twisted down by a Warrior defender. The attempted two-point run by Sanchez was stopped short and the Coyote advantage was 34-6.
Another short drive for the Warriors led to a big punt return for the Coyotes, but another illegal block negated the long play.
After a holding play took away a short run by Kyser, the junior signal-caller came back with a quick sling to Sosa in the flat who made the first defender miss and advanced up the right sideline before cutting back inside and outrunning the defense for another Roswell score to make it 41-6 with just over two minutes left in the half.
Senior Rudy Castillo set the tone for the final defensive series of the first half as he came flying off the edge to sack Stewart and Ruidoso sputtered out going into halftime.
The Coyotes kicked off the start the second half and Ruidoso rushed for short gains on the first two plays of the series, but a bad snap on third-and-three sailed over the quarterback’s head, was knocked around by diving players and eventually picked up by Sanchez, a linebacker on defense, who trotted into the end zone and put his team up 47-6.
One of the few deficiencies for Roswell was the kicking game, as Isaiah Pacheco struggled to hit extra points and sent a couple kickoffs out of bounds.
“We’re breaking in a new kicker and he’s a bit inconsistent at times,” Lynn said. “We need to get the kicking game straightened out going forward.”
After two short kicks went out of bounds in the first half, Ruidoso appeared content to let the ball bounce their way once again, but this time senior Leo Morales came flying in like he was shot from a cannon to recover the ball for the Coyotes.
With the game well in hand, the second string offense entered the game and immediately showed their inexperience as a fumbled snap gave the ball back to the Warriors.
The defense proved stout once again as the Coyotes forced the Warriors to punt.
The second-team offense got another chance to prove themselves and did just that, scoring the final Roswell touchdown with 11:16 left in the fourth quarter.
After the game, Lynn said it was a good opening night for his Coyotes.
“Defensively, after the first series, I thought they really settled in and did what they had to do,” he said. “Rico (Silva), Donald (Truex), Andres (Castillo) and Rudy (Castillo) did a good job. They controlled the line of scrimmage all night. Going in, I thought if we could do that, we’d have a good chance.”
Lynn liked what he saw from his new starting quarterback as well as Kyser went 3 of 7 for 63 yards while making all the right calls at the line.
“I thought (Kyser) played well,” he said. “In our option game he’s making a lot of reads and I don’t think he missed one tonight.”
The running game was off the charts with 39 rushes for 255 yards for the first-teamers in the first half. Roswell totaled 446 yards of offense while Ruidoso finished in the red with -7 total yards.
The Coyotes travel to Anthony to take on the Gadsden High Panthers next Friday at 7 p.m.