Manzano, La Cueva vie for Class 6A crown in battle between ABQ football titans
12/2/2017 5:03 PM
Albuquerque is guaranteed to have its first big-school football champion since 2009. It will be a school that has never lost in a state final or a school that has never won in a state final.

Two teams that have been targeting the first Saturday in December all year, District 2-6A rivals Manzano and La Cueva, will put an exclamation point on the 2017 season this afternoon at Wilson Stadium when the top-seeded Monarchs (12-0) and second-seeded Bears (11-1) clash for the Class 6A title.

Kickoff is 1 p.m.

“We’ll just play this game like a regular game,” Manzano senior quarterback Jordan Byrd said. “We won’t treat it as any other type of game. It’s a Week 13 game for us.”

La Cueva is 4-0 in championship games, including a victory seven years ago.

This is Manzano’s third go-round in the title game, with Mayfield beating the Monarchs in 1996 and 2010.

And the onus is squarely on the Monarchs’ shoulders Saturday.

“The kids know how to respond, and they know how to act,” Manzano coach Chad Adcox said.

The Monarchs own the higher seed, the better record and a head-to-head victory against La Cueva two months ago. And Manzano is playing only about 150 yards from its practice field.

“They come out having everything to lose,” Bears wide receiver Grant Giesler said. “We have nothing to lose.”

When they last met, on Oct. 6, Manzano held a commanding 21-0 lead at halftime. But its defense twice in the final 4 minutes was forced to turn aside La Cueva with the Bears inside the 20 and trying to tie the game before Manzano finally held on for a 28-21 victory.

“We came out a little shell-shocked, not prepared for what they were gonna give us,” La Cueva coach Brandon Back said. “Maybe a little starstruck.”

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