After playing in the New Mexico state football tournament three of the past four years, the No. 2-seeded Bloomfield Bobcats found success in a packed home stadium Nov. 26.
After a first-round bye, Bloomfield beat Moriarty 62-7 and Taos, 45-13, then outlasted the always tough Silver City Colts.
The Bloomfield High School football team bounced back from a 45-7 midseason loss to Silver City to capture the New Mexico District 4-A championship with a hard-fought 13-7 victory. The Bobcats’ previoous state football championship came in 1966.
The Bobcats were runners-up to Taos in 2018 and to Portales in 2019. They are coached by two nonschool employees, head coach Mike Kovacs and offensive coordinator Colton Weaver.
Playing together since second grade paid off for senior quarterback Ryan Sharpe and junior running back/receiver Jesse Seitzinger, who was the team’s second-leading receiver with a 54.5 game average and 708 yards rushing, plus 592 receiving.
Sharpe ran the ball for a one-yard TD in the second quarter to tie the game at 7. Seitzinger ran in a 79-yard reception to go ahead midway in the third quarter.
“I think it was just a go-route,” he said. He said he got behind the defender and knew Ryan would put the ball right on target. The two-point conversion failed, but the 13-7 lead held up.
The championship game displayed a competitive contest, with Bloomfield running 61 plays to 55 for Silver. The Colts had more first downs, 14-13; two fewer penalties, 5-7, and fewer penalty yards, 24-50.
Running back Seitzinger, who was named most valuable player, ran the ball 10 times for 35 yards and had two receptions for 89 yards in the championship contest. He said he won’t forget that game or the Bobcats’ 47-0 win over rival Aztec.
Running back and middle linebacker Andreas Gordo broke his collarbone against Taos and sat out the final game. The stout senior averaged 48 yards rushing per game. “Trust me – it killed all of us that Gordo couldn’t play in that game,” Kovacs said.
Sharpe, the fifth-leading passer in the state this season, posted 3,214 total yards, with 30 TDs passing and 10 rushing. Sharpe connected on 14 of 23 passes and ran 19 times for 36 yards in the championship game.
The Bobcats have run the same “Aid Raid” up-tempo offense for years. That consistency showed on the field with a balanced run-pass attack that confounded opponents throughout their 11-1 winning season. That high-powered, no-huddle strategy tormented rivals with a scoring differential of 592-112, including two shutouts.
Kovacs was with Bloomfield coaching staff from 1992-96. He said he left to “pad his pedigree knowledge in football” and by the time he got back to his alma mater, he had been in five state football championships.
“By the time I got back here, I knew we had a special group of young men that were coming up through the system,” Kovacs said. He had watched them since they were in the Young America Football League, along with their older brothers.
The coach said Augie Aguilar was a running back but they “put a lot of pressure on him to control the defense. He’s done a fantastic job. … He’s very deceptive, he likes to jog a lot, but when he needs to turn on the gas – he can turn it on.”
Aguilar, an outside linebacker and defensive captain, led the Bobcats defense with 7.6 tackles per game during his senior season.
Drew Perez, a soft-spoken junior whose family moved to Bloomfield a few years ago from Clovis, led the team in receptions, with 60 for 1,102 yards, an 84.8 game average and 21 touchdowns for the season. Perez had two games with at least four touchdowns, including a 70-yard punt return.
In the group interview in Kovacs’ office after Sharpe’s all-star game in Artesia, Sharpe said he was considering playing football after graduating high school. “I really want to give college football a try,” he said.
The players expressed gratitude for family support. Sharpe said, “the love and support from Bloomfield community is outstanding … looking up and seeing the stands packed --- it’s a good feeling.” Auggie Aguilar thanked all the coaches. Senior Deakyn Priddy, an offensive lineman, joined us for a photo.
“I think the biggest emotion was that I was so excited for these guys and this community,” Kovacs said. “The emotions were just running out … I haven’t had time to really rest. We still have a banquet coming up.”
The team celebrated that evening on a Christmas parade float, was recognized in a city of Bloomfield meeting and in a San Juan County Commissioners meeting.
When asked how they celebrated their championship victory, chuckling they said, “I think we should leave that out. … We had a pizza party!”