Saturday, August 4, 2012

High school football storylines with practice set to kick off early this week

(Photo of Oñate quarterback Curtis Hynes taken by Niki Rhynes)

The time, once again, is upon us.

High school football in southern New Mexico, that is, with the usual suspects back in business.

This year it starts with Las Cruces High, the Class 5A preseason No. 1-ranked team.
The Bulldawgs look to be loaded, and seem to be the favorites in District 3-5A going into 2012.

Mayfield figures to be solid once again as well, while programs at Oñate, Centennial, and Mesilla Valley Christian are local city schools that should provide intrigue heading into the new year.

With prep football practices officially set to kick off on Monday, we take a look at the top local storylines heading into the 2012 campaign:

The top Dawgs?
The No. 1-ranked team in the state according to, Las Cruces High has size on the lines of scrimmage, with Jacob Banegas and Taylor Tisby anchoring the units.
Last year the Bulldawgs predominantly ran the football on offense — a fairly unimaginative, and predictable, gameplan. They hope to implement a more vertical passing attack in 2012, however, with quarterback Jonathon Joy taking over under center. More balance, theoretically, is a good thing, and could allow the team to get tight end target Kamryn Dixon more involved in the passing game. While Joy’s play will be key, so will be replacing running back Xavier Hall, who carried the offense the last couple seasons.

Trojans trigger man
Axten Franzoy was a very good quarterback for Mayfield the past two years and replacing him will be critical to this team’s success — when is quarterback play, on any level of football, not important? The Trojans will also be without coaching legend Jim Bradley, who continues recovering from a stroke suffered earlier this year. While he was an assistant coach for the Trojans and perhaps more of an inspirational figure for the program the past few years, Bradley’s presence and experience was still an important factor for this team. With all that being said, Mayfield is Mayfield — always one of the state’s top teams, they have mystique and find ways to replace players. That, and the Trojans seem to play well as an overlooked club, something they seem to be once again at the outset of the 2012 campaign.

Big year
It will be one at Oñate, where head coach Caleb Hull enters his second season in charge of the program. The 2011 campaign was not the smoothest, with Hull talking big leading up to the season and the team eventually being short on players and talent. Their opening schedule was brutal — OHS was outmanned in games against Franklin, Americas, Cleveland, and Rio Rancho, losing to that foursome by a combined score of 220-49. Still, in the games they were on equal footing with the opposition, the Knights were competitive, and even entertaining to watch. And, while the 2012 docket isn’t exactly filled with cupcakes, it’s not the same gauntlet of games the team faced a season ago. That, and this will truly be Hull’s team, making this year’s version of the Knights an interesting one to watch.

New horse in the race
Centennial, a first-year high school in Las Cruces, will take to the football field in its inaugural season as a member of Class 4A. The Hawks were picked No. 19 out of 25 Class 4A teams according to The offensive minded Aaron Ocampo, formally of Manzano, takes over as head coach and Centennial plays a fair schedule for a first-year program — a number of junior varsity teams and some programs from the Class 3A level. Not that any of these games figure to be easy for the startup program, nor will be the District 3-4A docket that awaits later in the year. With no seniors on the 2012 Hawks roster, building a high school football program is not an easy task and, while this year figures to be one of importance, the ones that follow shortly thereafter will be just as critical, if not moreso.

A new coach
Former Mayfield head coach Mike Draper will be the new head coach at Mesilla Valley Christian School, taking over for Charles Gleghorn who moved onto Hobbs High School.
The SonBlazers are a unique athletics program, just from the standpoint they’re small private school in a Class 5A town, one which does attract talent. In reality, Gleghorn was a good coach for MVCS — the team started football three years ago and won a Class A state championship last season. Now, the SonBlazers move up to the Class 2A level with Draper at the controls.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

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