In General News, Press Releases

The high school football season is about to get underway in New Mexico.  The first games will be played this weekend, March 5-6.  High school sports were shut down for 11-and-a-half months because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Football coaches across the state are thrilled to be back on the field.

“It is awesome to see the excitement in the kids’ faces! They have a new energy! They’re excited for the opportunity!”-Kief Johnson, Ruidoso High School

“We are taking nothing for granted. We know more than ever that tomorrow is not guaranteed, so we’re making sure every day counts. The kids are chomping at the bit! I think we all underestimate their resilience at times. They are Absolutely ready!”-Jeff Dalton, Farmington High School

“For generations student athletes were told that playing sports is a privilege.  This is the first group of kids, collectively, that truly understand what it means to lose that privilege, so their excitement level is at an all-time high. Once the whistle blows and the games start, I fully expect it to feel like a normal football game.  Everything outside the lines maybe different, but between the lines it’s still 11 on 11 (or 8 on 8 or 6 on 6) and it will be very exciting to watch these student athletes get to do what they love.”-Greg Jackson, Eunice High School

“We are extremely blessed to be able to finally play. We are bringing back our program after a 5-year hiatus so this first game is extra special to us.”- Kenny Duong, Clovis Christian High School

“The Cavemen are fired up! We not only get to finally play a football game, but we get to play against our neighbors in Artesia. It doesn’t take any extra motivation when we play the Bulldogs.”-Gary Bradley, Carlsbad High School

“I am very excited for my players to be able to play football this year. Our school was one of the first to be going hybrid, so it’s nice to be able to get four games scheduled.”-Julian Rivera, Questa High School

“It is such a relief to be able to tell the kids that they get this opportunity. They have worked so hard and it means a lot to see the look on their faces and see the change in attitude. Not only does it help them on the field, but it follows them into the classroom. They are just happier, and can’t wait to play this first game.”-Reynaldo Arellanez, Reserve High School

“It really means a lot to our great kids and coaching staff to play this great game after such a long delay.  We are incredibly grateful to have this opportunity.  We are incredibly thankful for the NMAA and our school administration for making this opportunity happen.  It has given the kids ‘new life’.”-Anthony Gonzales, Lovington High School

“The players are ready for Friday night lights and the first kick off to fly through the air.”-Caleb King, Melrose High School

“To me, this game means we are getting back to some type of normal.  I’ve done this for 30 years and I didn’t realize how much I had missed it until the first day of practice looking at kids through the face mask of a helmet.”-Wayne Ferguson, Tucumcari High School

“I expect a messy game, but a lot of fun!”-Damien O’Campo, Socorro High School

“I am so excited to give these athletes the opportunity to compete again. We have a senior heavy team this season, and many of these athletes were fixing to throw in the towel. I am so excited for them to get the opportunity to play their senior year. Many of these students have missed out on so may experiences during this trying time. There is a great excitement around the school again, and students and athletes alike are smiling once again.  School spirit is once again bubbling in the halls. Athletes are so excited to get to compete again that many of the challenges we are facing do not seem that challenging anymore.”-Dwayne Roberts, Logan High School

“Players are thrilled to finally get to a place where the workouts and practices get to be applied.  Some of the players breathe athletics, so it will make them happy to be out there again.”-Shaun Gehres, Albuquerque Academy

“It means the team and the community can finally come together and begin rebuilding the comradery that is missing.”-David Ramirez, Animas High School

“I think our kids will have a blast.  We know, as with any first game of the year, there will be many technical mistakes.  However, our expectations are to play with great energy, enthusiasm, and excitement.”-Bob Gilbreath, Texico High School

“I have witnessed more sportsmanship at our own practices than I have seen in the past.  I am hoping it will roll over to the opposing team.  I believe the boys feel like they (the whole state) are in this together. I am sure, like all the football programs in the state, we are all blessed to be able to play.  No matter if it is just a 5-game season.”-Shane Evans, Ramah High School

“Our kids have had a great attitude about playing this first game.  Some of them have not played in a year or two but they are out because it’s an opportunity to play and spend some time with classmates they haven’t seen in a while.  Our kids are excited!”-Brent Satterwhite, Tatum High School

“For us, this season is very important; not only did our team have to deal with COVID, but a year ago we lost two very special teammates.  Getting back on the field for this team is not only about overcoming COVID, but it is about honoring the boys, Pedro and Mateo.  The players are excited to be on the field and ready for a game!”-Gabriel Romero, Moriarty High School

“It’s really humbling.  Playing football every fall is something that I took for granted for YEARS. The fact that we almost didn’t get to play at this school year, puts everything in perspective; puts a new meaning to ‘Take NOTHING for granted!’ I expect a little bit of a sloppy game (turnovers/mistakes) because we don’t have much time go over everything and rep everything out, but at least we are playing! A sloppy game or not, we are going to enjoy this moment and have fun!”-Randy Montoya, New Mexico Military Institute

“Our kids are fired up.  It seemed almost unrealistic at first.  With helmets and pads going on, it gets a little more real every day.  Their focus and juice have been great so far.”-Cal Fullerton, Clovis High School

“My kids are very excited to feel like kids again. The excitement is more than words can tell. I expect a fun filled game with a lot of emotions.”-Gabriel Montoya, Floyd High School

“It means a lot for these student athletes to come back to some type of normalcy. Some have been deeply affected by COVID-19. Months of uncertainty can affect the student athlete mentally and physically. They are feeling blessed and eager just to play again.”-Roderick Harlan, Crownpoint High School

“It means a lot to our program to get to play. It affords us the opportunity to work with our athletes so that we can continue to not only develop them as football players but to use the games to help teach and build character.”-Ken Stevens, Hobbs High School

“Our kids are really excited. They have followed every protocol that has been asked of them, all for the opportunity to play again. Even though this isn’t an ideal season or a season we are used to, it’s a season. Our athletes get to compete and play a game they love. For many of them this will be the last time they ever put on a helmet and shoulder pads. That makes these 5 games that much more special for them.”-AJ Cisco, Alamogordo High School

“Resilience, patience, and perseverance are rewarded.  I see hope again, kids have purpose and a destination, they feel normal again.”-Jared Howell, Piedra Vista High School

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