Santa Fe High’s mistakes costly in 39-2 blowout loss to Robertson
LAS VEGAS, N.M. — It’s 67 miles between Santa Fe High and Las Vegas Robertson high schools, but the gulf between their football programs is wider than that.
The Cardinals demonstrated poise despite a sloppy, uneven performance, while the Demons continued to show the self-destructive behavior that kept them in the midst of a 34-game losing streak Friday night. Behind 170 passing yards from Brandon Lucero and a 246 yards of total offense from Antonio Padilla, Robertson rolled to a 39-2 win at Cardinal Field as the 2018 football season opened around the state.
Despite committing 90 yards in penalties and turning the ball over three times in the first half, the Cardinals still managed to build a 21-0 lead thanks in part to the Demons’ own miscues. They had two turnovers of their own before the half, as well as 115 yards in penalties overall.
Santa Fe High head coach Andrew Martinez and Robertson counterpart Leroy Gonzalez both emphasized executing their game plans better, but only one of them could do so with a win in their pocket.
“That’s a concern,” Gonzalez said. “We have some new players, and this is their first Friday night lights. It’s new for them, but I counted about 170 yards in penalties. And that is way too much. We put in way too much work for that.”
Martinez felt like the Demons matched the Cardinals’ physical style of play, but their lack of consistency and penchant for making key mistakes remained a maddening habit. Martinez added, he wasn’t going to use youth — more than half of Santa Fe High’s roster are underclassmen — as an excuse.
“We’re going to have to grow up, and this is never going to be an acceptable feeling,” Martinez said.
Robertson could lean on the experience of a program that has been to the state championship game in Class 3A and 4A four of the previous five seasons to help it navigate such a sloppy start. Of course, it was the veterans who made big plays to ease the torture souls of a coaching staff.
Padilla,who ran for more than 700 yards last season, scored the Cardinals’ first two touchdowns — a 4-yard run followed from a 35-yard reception in the first quarter for a 15-0 lead — but his fumble at midfield gave Santa Fe High some hope when it desperately needed it.
The Demons almost made the most of their moment, as freshman quarterback Luc Jaramillo looped his way around the Cardinals defense for a 32-yard gain to put Santa Fe High at the Robertson 10-yard line. But a holding call pushed the Demons back to their own 48.
On the next play, Jaramillo tried to throw a screen pass, but it went straight into the arms of Cardinals junior defensive end Mackenzie Ebell, who rumbled 45 yards for a back-breaking touchdown and a 21-0 lead with 6:46 left in the second quarter.
“I was kinda surprised,” said Ebell, who saw significant playing time on the offensive and defensive lines last season. “I was just making my reads. The ball came at me and I ran as fast as I could.”
Santa Fe High again had a chance to steal some momentum late in the first half when Jackson Cary intercepted a Lucero pass and raced to the Robertson 1. However, the return was nullified when a personal foul penalty on a crack-back block was called. Two plays later, Jaramillo fumbled a shotgun snap, and Cardinals safety Margarito Ortega recovered it at the Santa Fe High 38 with 41.7 seconds left.
“It’s incredibly frustrating to to keep making the same mistakes over and over,” Martinez said. “Being young isn’t an excuse for having two first-half touchdowns called back.”
Robertson looked more like its veteran self in the second half as it managed 167 yards of offense without a turnover. Padilla added two more touchdowns — a 7-yard scamper to open the second half and a 67-yard pass from Lucero early in the fourth quarter that made it 39-2 with 9:49 left.
“[Offensive coordinator Lucas Sanchez] saw they were going [to play man coverage],” Padilla said. “He wanted to just give me the ball and I tried to capitalize on that.”
Padilla was the workhorse for the Cardinals, running for 137 yards while catching four passes for 103 yards. Senior quarterback Brandon Lucero made his starting debut a good one, as none of his passes hit the ground. He went 7-for-8 for 170 yards and two toucdowns with the lone pick.