Lake Arthur struck the first blow. Clovis Christian wasted almost no time responding.
The defending state champion Panthers scored on the fourth play of the game, but CCS dominated the rest of the way behind senior Mike Urioste’s 223 yards rushing and four touchdowns and junior Kevin Naceanceno’s 180 yards and five scores in a 65-20 rout at Jim Hill Field in Clovis.
The teams entered the game tied for the top ranking in the New Mexico High School Coaches Association’s 6-man poll.
After Panthers senior Angelo Rivera scored from a yard out with less than a minute gone, CCS (2-0) countered with five consecutive touchdowns.
The Eagles outgained Lake Arthur 489 to 144 and intercepted three passes by Lake Arthur eighth-grader Cody Dalton.
Rivera scored a second touchdown for the Panthers (1-1) in the final seconds of the third quarter. The only other Lake Arthur TD came in the second quarter after Rivera’s 62-yard kickoff return to the CCS 4.
“We were a little timid at first,” Eagles coach Jason Swann said, “but if it wasn’t for that kickoff return, we would’ve played a pretty flawless game.”
Urioste’s 22-yard run on the second play following Lake Arthur’s kickoff tied the score 6-6 with only 1:14 gone. CCS scored three more times before quarter’s end.
“We came prepared,” Urioste said. “We’ve been preparing for this game, and we were ready.”
After dropping from 8-man this season, the fast-paced 6-man game plays well with the speedy Eagles.
“It’s a lot of running, more fast-paced than 8-man,” Urioste said. “You miss five minutes of this game and you could miss a lot.”
Swann said the Eagles kept it pretty simple, but executed well.
“We only ran about 10 different plays,” he said. “We just kept hitting them in the mouth. We came out and set the tone early.”
Rivera finished with 98 yards rushing on 17 carries, but the Panthers came into the game with a couple of key players injured and lost junior Hector Salcido early in the first half on Friday.
“They’re a good team; they ran their sets well,” Lake Arthur coach Jose Cruz-Porras said. “No. 21 (Naceanceno) and No. 2 (Urioste) are phenomenal players.”
Lake Arthur has reached the past three state 6-man finals, winning two of them. The Panthers lost to San Jon in 2008.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Cruz-Porras said. “We have three key players out, but I’m not going to make excuses. This game served as a learning experience for us.”
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