By Marty Mayfield
It was a great night weather-wise for football as Raton hosted the McCurdy Bobcats for their season opener at Tiger Stadium Friday night, August 26 A slow first half turned wild after halftime and the Tigers went on to a 34-7 win.
Both team’s offenses seemed out of sync as the game got underway. This trend continued through the first quarter which ended scoreless. But things started to gel, at least for Raton, as the second quarter got underway with the ball on the McCurdy 31. The Raton offense emphasized the run, looking very different than the pass-first offenses under former coaches Vertovec and Walton. Raton continued to move the ball on the ground and finished the series with a Jonathan Cabrieles 3-yard run with 9:33 left on the clock in the second quarter. Cabrieles PAT struck the left upright and fell wide leaving the score 6-0.
The back and forth by both teams continued throughout the second quarter with Raton finally inside the 10-yardline near the end of the second quarter and ready to move in. The Bobcat defense however stood fast and prevented Raton from finding pay dirt on three separate plays at the 3-yardline. Their goal line stand held on to the horn ending the first half of play.
Coach Tory Giacomo told KRTN that they had a good talk in the locker room at halftime, which must have worked, as the Tigers came out firing on all cylinders. They took the ball 67 yards for six on their first series of the third quarter, despite two holding penalties. Coach Giacomo noted after the game that there was a lot of laundry on the field during the game, mistakes that the coaches will have to work on over the next week.
Nathaniel Tarbox picked off Andres Martinez pass and scampered 40 yards to inside the McCurdy 10 yard line. That setup up an 8-yard run by Tristen Gallegos to add six to the Raton score. Dustin Segura scrambled for the 2-point conversion making the Raton lead 20-0 at 3:27 in the third quarter.
The Raton defense continued their domination forcing the Bobcats to turn the ball over on downs at the Raton 32 where seven plays later Raton once again added six with a 2-yard run by Richie Acevedo. Cabrieles split the uprights to make it 27-0.
The Bobcat offense finally started to move the ball only to have Cabrieles pick off another Martinez pass which was called back on double holding penalties before the interception. McCurdy continued to claw their way down the field and finally strike pay dirt with an easy 9-yard run by Lucas Samora. The PAT was good leaving the score at 27-7 with 8:21 left in the game.
Raton quickly answered with a 25-yard Cabrieles run followed by a 34-yard Cabrieles run one play later for six more Tiger points. Cabrieles once again clears the bar and makes it a 34-7 ball game with 6:55 left in the game.
The remainder of the game goes scoreless as the Raton JV gets playing time to end the ball game.
Coach Giacomo noted after the game that many of the boys, who have been playing since they were freshman, indicated it is now their time to come together and make this their year for the win.
Raton will travel the pass for the annual Coal Bucket game in Trinidad this week and make a play at bringing home the bucket after a three year absence in the Raton trophy case.