November 11, 2011
State football playoffs kick off on Friday in nearly all states which didn't start them on the first weekend of November. That's the case in New Mexico, too, though one school is fighting to put some of the state's scheduled matchups on hold until it can have a blown call rectified … and possibly be added to the playoff mix itself.
As reported by KOB-TV and KOAT-TV, among other New Mexico outlets, Atrisco (N.M.) Heritage High parents filed an injunction on behalf of the school's football team after it was kept out of the New Mexico Class 4A state playoffs on a point differential tiebreaker. Atrisco was one point away from overcoming its disadvantage in that tiebreaking category, and the team feels it should have completed that points takeover after it was cheated out of a game-ending field goal attempt in its regular-season finale against Albuquerque (N.M.) St. Pius X School.
With Atrisco leading 24-15 -- and needing to win by 10 or more points -- a St. Pius defender was called for a tripping penalty with just three seconds remaining on the clock. That penalty pulled Atrisco to within field-goal range, where the subsequent 41-yarder would have landed the team a playoff berth.
Instead, the Jaguars never got to attempt the kick because officials started the clock on the final play before the ball was snapped. That shouldn't have happened since the penalty on the previous play should have ensured that the clock didn't begin until the ball was snapped.
Yet Atrisco never got to attempt the kick, and according to New Mexico Activities Association associate director Robert Zayas, as soon as the game officials walked off the field, that score was considered final … and irreversible.
"The playoffs are set, there are no changes unfortunately for Atrisco Heritage, they will not be considered for the playoffs and we are moving forward," Zayas told KOAT.
That's a tough pill for any teenager to swallow, particularly when they put themselves in position to slip into the playoffs at the last possible moment. As one parent noted, the team's field-goal kicker had already hit a 50-yarder earlier in the season, so a season-saving kick from 41 yards was hardly out of the question.
"We don't want to see their four years of hard work end on a bad call," Atrisco football parent Kenneth Street told KOAT.
"We feel that we have to do whatever we can to try and rectify the situation for them."
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