Gridiron Steers earn postseason berth

........................................................................................................................................................................................

Despite a regular-season-ending loss to Capitan last Friday night, the Magdalena football team did enough this season to earn itself a six-seed in the 2012 1A state football championship.

The Tigers (6-3, 3-0) took advantage of some red zone mistakes by the Steers, as well as the loss of Mag starting quarterback Dylan Julian to injury in the first quarter, to cruise to a 61-6 District 3-1A victory.

However the Steers, now 5-4 on the season and 2-1 in league play, were voted into the tournament due in large part to a brutal regular season schedule. Of the five other teams in this year’s bracket, Magdalena played three of them.

“I think people saw we did not play any junior varsity teams,” Steers head coach Billy Page said.

“The top five was pretty much set. The sixth team was going to be us, Questa or Jal.

“My opinion is because they did play JV teams, a weaker schedule, and we played a full varsity schedule, I think that might have had a little bit to do with it.”

The Steers will have an opportunity to avenge a season-opening loss to Escalante when they take on the Lobos (9-1) in the first round on Friday night in Tierra Amarilla. Magdalena will have its hands full with a team that put up at least 35 points in every game this season, and twice recorded 61.

“We’re going to approach Escalante a little bit differently,” Page said. “That is a good team, obviously. They have a high-powered offense. We’re going to have to approach it in a defensive manner, not so much offensively. I think our offense is in tact. I think we just have to be solid and just wrap up.”

Page said he hopes to have Julian back at quarterback on Friday night. His senior playmaker is around 70 percent right now, but the head ball coach also said he has confidence in backup Dre Montoya if Julian can’t go.

“He’s a smart kid, a smart quarterback,” Page added. “We give him plenty of reps in practice. He plays with a little more finesse.”

No matter who starts in the backfield for the Steers, they’re glad they have one more week to play football and they definitely don’t intend to waste the opportunity.

“I think the boys are pumped about it,” Page said. “I know I am.”

Kickoff at Escalante High School is slated for 6 p.m. on Friday.