Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Despite key losses from state championship team, Bulldawgs still have plenty of bite

With fall football practices opening earlier this week, the annual question of which local program will compete for a state championship will be asked, continuously, well into the fall semester.

Las Cruces High's coming off a state title performance last season, and Mayfield should bring back talent, starting at quarterback, where Kavika Johnson returns after opening eyes during his sophomore campaign.

Perhaps OƱate can show improvement, and Gadsden can continue it's progression under second-year head coach Roy Gerela.

With that being said, this district always seems to come down to the Bulldawgs and Trojans. And while there's been plenty of pre-season chatter regarding Mayfield's returning talent, lets not overlook the Bulldawgs successful program, winning ways, or championship pedigree.

This is a team coming off yet another state title in 2013 - the fifth for head coach Jim Miller, who holds a 5-0 record in such championship affairs.

The Bulldawgs do have to replace some key pieces off last season's squad: namely, an offensive line that dominated New Mexico High School competition, and an All-State quarterback in Jonathan Joy. Those two areas were primary contributing factors for Las Cruces High's offense being virtually unstoppable a year ago, a fact that was no more apparent than late in the season, when LCHS rolled the state playoff competition in it's path.

With that being said, this team does bring back some very good football players to it's roster.

Running back J.J. Granados was a touchdown machine last year, and he'll be asked to carry a heavy load once again. He'll be flanked by some other talented pieces in the backfield: Austin Salas and do-it-all threat J.R. Hernandez to summarize some of the supporting cast.

Sam Denmark is also primed for a monster season, after being a front-line performer at tight end and linebacker a season ago.

Perhaps the Bulldawgs 2013 season could rest on two entities, however: for one, the ability of Miller's sophomore son, Kameron, to replace Joy at quarterback. No doubt the younger Miller has talent, and if he ends up being close to what his father was (a former state-championship quarterback at Roswell High and later a star for the New Mexico State Aggies), he'll be a heckuva player. With that being said, Miller did in fact look like a freshman player last year, and will have to grow up quickly entering his sophomore campaign for LCHS to compete at a similarly high level.

The other will be the Bulldawgs' ability to make up for their losses along the offensive line although, while the unit shouldn't be as dominant as a season ago, perhaps it can pick up adequately enough to protect Miller and company.

Will the 2013 campaign bring back-to-back state championships to the Bulldawgs football program? That could be a tall order. But don't count them out either, as one of the state's top teams. Or as the team to beat in district, for that matter.

Followe me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

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