Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Looking back, and ahead at local high school football

It was business as usual for the local high school football scene in 2011.

Both Mayfield and Las Cruces High were top-four teams in the state during the regular season, and the Trojans advanced to the Class 5A State Championship, falling to Cleveland 48-28.

But what awaits both programs in 2012 — with a new high school in town?

What about Oñate, and the rest of District 3-5A?

And lets not forget Class A state champion Mesilla Valley Christian.

A look back at the past year in high school football, and some questions that lie ahead:

• Will the local powerhouses remain strong? The answer should be yes, at least for the immediate future.

Of course Centennial High School opens its doors next year — their impact should eventually be felt, but one would think Mayfield and Las Cruces High will each remain in good standing next year.

Both are more than just good teams — they’re good programs that consistently reload.
Head coach Jim Miller and the Bulldawgs have a core of players coming back — minus star running back Xavier Hall, of course, but perhaps a more balanced attack in return.

At Mayfield, the Trojans will always be solid under the leadership of the Bradleys — Mayfield will lose some horses but also seems to have talent in their stable just about every year.

• Where will the Knights stand? Still a couple years away from contention.
Head coach Caleb Hull will be in his second year at the helm of Oñate and needs to build his program in just about every sense — starting with retaining players who are already with the team.

The Knights could also use some experienced assistant coaches on their staff and an improved defense — that particular unit that was dreadful last year.

Perhaps more important to the Knights than anything else, however, is a more realistic and softer schedule. OHS ran a gauntlet of games at the beginning of the year. When playing equal teams last season they were competitive and fun to watch.

The Knights do seem to have some young talent in the program as well — their freshman team was a good one in 2011.

• Will the bottom of District 3-5A improve? It would be nice if it did.

We already went over Oñate’s struggles, while Gadsden didn’t win a game in 2011.

Alamogordo was a playoff team, but that doesn’t mean they were competitive against Mayfield and Las Cruces High.

October is typically a lost month for both the Trojans and Bulldawgs, as they’re essentially taking the field in glorified bye weeks during district play.

Such lopsided affairs can’t help either team come playoff time and it can’t be easy for the fans to watch either.

An improved bottom-half of the league would be better for everyone involved.

• Is northern New Mexico closing the gap? In Rio Rancho — the suburb just north of Albuquerque — it would seem so.

Cleveland High School won the state title and its neighbor Rio Rancho High School was a state semifinals team.

There’s talent in that region and it’s a two-horse town that’s put an emphasis on producing winning football programs.

Something looks to be brewing on the northern New Mexico gridiron.

• Where will Mesilla Valley Christian go? Two questions face the SonBlazers going into the offseason.

For one, will head coach Charles Gleghorn return after guiding the team to a state championship — the fourth in his career after a successful run at Hatch Valley High School previously.

The Centennial position is open, and there is also a coaching slot available at Hobbs High School.

After that, will Mesilla Valley move up to Class 2A?

The program toyed with 1A competition this past year and looked better suited for a higher division.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Maybe the north is getting better, but I'm not convinced yet When you see the south (specifically Las Cruces High and Mayfield High) in the top 4 slots at the end of the season, it's a little hard to put too much into the balance of power shifting to the north.

If you look at why the teams in the north were tough, it was because there was one special player that carried the team. The back for La Cueva two years ago and the QB for the state champion this year.

If you look at the south squads, that is not the case. They don't have a superstar carrying them. They play team ball in good systems.

I'll put my money on Mayfield or Las Cruces anytime.