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The Dexter Demons may not have been able to say they played spoiler again this year for Class 4A’s defending state champions.

But they had a chance. And that’s still saying something.

“Honestly, I’m not saying we would’ve won the game, but it probably should’ve been more like 12-7,” Demon head coach Kevin Graham said Saturday. “We had four turnovers in that game. And we had a 16-yard average on punts.”

Ultimately, the Rams came out on top of a shutout, 27-0, but Dexter did well overall on offense despite losing standout back Gustavo Macias early in the game. The turnovers, however, kept them from establishing any kind of rhythm.

“We got the opening kick and went three and out,” said Graham. “They scored and kicked off to us, and we took it right down to the 10 – and then fumbled.

“We moved the ball on offense. We just kept shooting ourselves in the foot again. We’ll play one good game, and then we have turnovers. And choose not to tackle.”

Graham says his athletes are without question giving their all, but taking care of the football has to become more of a focus.

“We’re just not good enough to overcome the kind of situations we put ourselves in – not yet,” said the coach. “But they played their hearts out. Don’t get me wrong – they play their hearts out every week.

“We saw some good things, and we saw some stuff we’ve got to work on. And we will continue to work. We just have to keep trying to get better every week.”

Dexter will host Estancia (2-3) at 7 p.m. Friday, and Graham says the team will need to be ready to counter the Bears’ aggressiveness.

Estancia has bested Tucumcari (30-6) and Santa Rosa (22-21) so far this season while falling to Las Vegas Robertson (13-12), Eunice (24-16) and Capitan (48-12).

“We have to match their physicality,” said Graham. “They’re really, really physical, but I think we can play with them if we’ll take care of the ball and do a better job on special teams.”