MIDLAND, Texas (KTSM) — The playoff road has come to an end for the Canutillo football team. The Eagles falling to Wichita Falls Rider, 28-7, in the Regional Semifinals (Sweet 16) of the Class 5A Texas high school football state playoffs on Friday in Midland.
Canutillo had their chances in the first half with two trips to the red zone, but were turned away empty-handed both times. Rider going wire-to-wire to clinch a berth in next week’s Regional Finals.
“I think in the first half, we were inside the 20 twice. If we score, if we don’t throw the pick it could’ve been a different story,” said Canutillo head coach Scott Brooks. “I thought our defense played great all night. They out-matches us, out-sized us and our kids just kept fighting like they have all year.”
It wasn’t until the fourth quarter the Eagles found the end zone. Junior running back LJ Martin finding pay dirt from four yards out, but it was too little and much too late.
“I was proud of my guys. The defense played hard until the very end. They did a great job,” said Martin. “The offensive line did what they’ve done all season — they played until the very end. I’m proud of my guys and what we were able to put together this season. I’m just really proud of everyone.”
Canutillo finishes the season 11-2 with their deepest run in the playoffs since their State Semifinals (Final 4) appearance in 2014. Martin, who holds Division I offers from Baylor, Kansas State, Texas Tech, UNLV and UTEP, will return next season for the Eagles.
“We won 11 games and played in this round — if you would’ve told me that on August 11th when we started practice, I’m not sure I would’ve told you that,” said Brooks. “I kept telling everyone that LJ [Martin} was scratching the tip of the iceberg last year, and I think everyone has realized how good of a football player he really is. Him coming back is going to make us even better.”
CLASS 6A D-II REGIONAL SEMIFINALS
Eastwood (8-4) vs. Prosper (8-4) – Saturday, 12 p.m. MT, Lowrey Field at Plainscapital Park – Lubbock, TX
CLASS 5A D-II REGIONAL SEMIFINALS
Wichita Falls Rider (12-2) def. Canutillo (11-1), 28-7 – Eagles eliminated from playoffs
CLASS 4A D-I REGIONAL SEMIFINALS
Riverside (11-1) vs. Springtown (9-3) – Saturday, 3 p.m. MT, Grande Communications Stadium – Midland, TX