RRHS coach David Howes addresses his team Monday after loss at Centennial

Rio Rancho High School football coach David Howes was busy Monday afternoon, basically rallying his troops in light of their 29-14 loss to Centennial on the Field of Dreams last Saturday night.

Three turnovers, including one in the Centennial red zone, didn’t help.

Bottom line, for Howes and the Rams, he said, was the setback was “exactly what it was – a first-week loss.”

But the Rams didn’t have much time to lick their wounds, in light of Pine Creek’s visit this Friday at 7 p.m. Pine Creek, out of Colorado Springs, beat Palmer Ridge 27-12 in both teams’ opener in Colorado Aug. 31.

Centennial achieved some satisfaction, no doubt, in avenging its 24-7 loss at RRHS last November in the postseason’s first round, the schools’ first meeting on the gridiron. Jaylen Morgan had rambled for 146 rushing yards and scored a touchdown in that meeting, but he was one of four starters missing the opener due to injury.

Centennial quarterback Lance Frost sparked his offense, rushing for 218 yards on 22 carries and scoring twice.

“The problem is,” Howes said of his youthful team, “they haven’t been exposed to a lot, so they have to absorb a lot real quick. They’re doing that – they absorbed a lot Saturday. They learned some valuable lessons Saturday. … A lot of those kids were baptized by fire Saturday night.”

There were some bright spots, Howes said. “I saw some young guys (make plays). Zach Vigil, a freshman, has a 49-yard return. And our brand-new punter gets the ball snapped over his head and scoops it up with about an inch on the back end of the goal, picks it up and punts it out, gets it to the 40. … I saw some composure from some guys.

“We threw the ball very well, we moved the ball very well – we were not very good on third down, both offensively (Rams were 5 of 13) and defensively. And that’s the most-important down in football,” Howes said. And the Rams were only assessed five penalties, another bright spot.

Quarterback Isaiah Chavez’s first start under center, he said, “was productive and he did a good job of running around. I think he’s going to get better with experience – that’s where all of us are, getting better with experience.”

Outside linebacker Jaylan Smith, defensive back Andrew Garcia and Chavez received Player of the Week patches, weekly recognition brought back for this season.