ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The last time the Los Lunas Tigers and Belen Eagles shared the field, the Tigers walked away with a 42-28 victory. The latest installment of the rivalry known as, “The Valencia Bowl,” takes place Friday.
“Emotions are high and low every time,” said Los Lunas head coach Terrell Trantham. “I think it’s just the people and fans that make it the rivalry that it is.”
Only 11 miles separate the two communities in Valencia County.
“This rivalry is about a lot of blood and passion,” said Belen Lineman Jonny Vigil. “Just like two towns so close to each other you see them on the streets everywhere. You are friends with them too.”
Belen’s head coach Greg Hennington is in his first year with the Eagles, but he knows plenty about the rivalry. His father Rex was a player and coach at Belen.
“I’ve heard about this rivalry all of my life,” said Hennington. “It is one of the top ones throughout the state.”
The rivalry also comes equipped with a trophy, one unique to the area. The winning team gets to take home the coveted Chile roaster.
“We get in the middle of the field if we win the game,” said Los Lunas running back O’Maury Samuels. “We will raise up the chile roaster. It’s cool we celebrate.”
It will be Samuel’s last time to celebrate should Los Lunas win the game. He is a senior and is headed for Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines next season.
Samuels would like nothing less than to hold up the roaster again. He and the Tigers will have to do it on Belen’s home field, the site of Friday’s game.
“They are a good football team,” said Hennington. “They have some D-1 players and they have a good core behind them as well so. They are extremely tough. We are tough as well and are just ready to get after it.”
Belen heads into the game with a 6-1 record. Los Lunas is 5-1. What adds more fuel to this fire is that the game is a district 5, five-A battle.