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Eagles football send message in win

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Jason Farmer/News-Sun

There was a party at Watson Stadium on Friday night as the Hobbs football team won its fifth straight game, got a victory over Rio Rancho on homecoming, and wide receiver Ethan Vanlandingham was named Homecoming King.

“It feels great (to be 5-0), especially beating a northern team, showing them what we are about,” Hobbs senior Kenyon Singleton said. “It is what you dream about in high school.”

“It feels great (to start 5-0), but we are now focusing on the next game,” Hobbs senior Diego Baeza added. “We want to go 6-0, so we are taking it one week at a time.”

The Eagles, who never trailed, beat the Rams 30-20 at Watson Stadium Friday night.

“We had a few mishaps,” Baeza said. “But, overall we finished with 30 points and that is pretty good.”

The last time Hobbs started a season at 5-0 was in 2000 when the Eagles opened the year 9-0 and were ranked No. 1 in New Mexico. According to Hobbs Superintendent Gene Strickland, that team, coached by Jeff Cearly, changed up its offense for the final three games and lost all three.

“I didn’t realize it was that long,” Hobbs coach Ken Stevens said of the last time Hobbs started 5-0. “5-0 feels pretty good, and that is a great start to our season. We have accomplished our first goal, getting through the first part of our season 5-0.”

The home side stands were packed and even with Rio Rancho coming from the north, the visiting side stands also had a sizeable crowd. In all, the announced attendance was over 9,000 fans.

Stevens was appreciative for all who came to watch his team play Friday night.

“I would love to thank the community and fans for coming out to the game,” he said after the game.

While Hobbs opened the season with wins over rival Clovis (0-5), Artesia (3-2), Roswell (4-1), and Lea County foe Lovington (0-5), Friday night the Eagles were playing a team that played in the Class 6A state championship in two of the last three years (there was no state championship in 2020).

“Rio Rancho was in the state championship game last year,” Stevens said. “So they have got that clout and that respect. I told the boys going into the game, we are not going to get any respect from anybody until we beat one of the northern schools or the (Las) Cruces schools. Hopefully after this game we will gain a little bit more respect, but there is still some to be earned in district.”

Entering play, Rio Rancho was averaging 18.5 points a game while the Eagles were giving up 22 points game. The two teams met in the middle as Hobbs held the No. 6 ranked Rams to just 20 points.

“That was probably our best offensive output,” Rio Rancho coach Nate Pino said. “We are getting better. We told the kids they don’t hand out trophies in September. The goal is to get better so when we get to the playoffs we are better than we are today.”

For the first time all season, the Eagles’ defense did not force a takeaway. In fact, there was only one turnover in the game and it was Hobbs who lost the ball.

“They were holding the ball real well,” Singleton said. “They came in and trusted their quarterback to hold the ball and we couldn’t get the ball out.”

Hobbs received the ball to start the game and scored on its opening drive. The Eagles never looked back.

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