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Back With A Vengeance
Quick Hit: According to Coach Cooper Henderson, it's a bit easier to work harder in the summer time, when the previous year did not go as as expected. In 2008 the Artesia Bulldogs lost five games, something that does not happen very often in Tittle Town. Bulldog fans, rest assure that your Dogs are back and could be vying for their 27th state title in December.
Leading the Bulldogs at the quarterback spot will be the very athletic Deven Nelson. Nelson who is listed at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds had a decent junior year throwing for just under 1,000 yards on the year as he split time with senior Jake Daley. It's very likely that we will see a two quarterback rotation again in 2009 as junior Josh Houghtaling at 6-foot-2, 189 pounds is almost too good to sit as a reserve on the bench. Houghtaling who comes from a great football bloodline is a born and bred Bulldog that has all the tools to do big things in the next two years for his teammates.
When Houghtaling is starting at quarterback, expect to see Deven Nelson at slot receiver where he can definitely contribute in a big way. We've been talking all summer along about the return of Jacob Olivas at the running back position and with him back at 100%, the Bulldogs offense just became a lot more potent.
Olivas suffered a season ending injury in the first game of the season last year and anyone that has followed the Bulldogs over the last few years, knows that the "Olivas" name means production.
Junior riser Andy Lopez who started at running back in Olivas' 2008 absence will move to the defensive side of the football at the safety position. Lopez is a true speedster that can make the big play if you throw his way.
Leading the receiving corps will be senior returner Antonio Valdez, Koby Caton, and Chance Allen. Caton is rumored to be one of the fastest players on the team and watch for Allen to have a breakout year as he has looked excellent over the summer time. On the defensive side of the football watch for big bad Troy Brown to clog the holes at the defensive tackle position.
Last year the 5-foot-11, 342 pound class of 2010 graduate played on the offensive side of the football, but will make the switch to defense something that he really looked good at. Senior linebacker Hunter Ballew returns on the defensive side at linebacker, but overall the Dogs will have to replace a lot of defensive starters that graduated from the 2008 season, which can be good and bad.
Second year starter Jeff Parra at 5-foot-9, 244 pounds will be the anchor on the offensive line. He did start in 2008 for the Bulldogs, but should play more of a role in the 2009 season. Three defensive players that could also play big roles for the Bulldogs in 2009 are linebacker Eric Morales, defensive end Victor Dana, and defensive linemen Kyle Soundheimer.
Morales looks huge and is one player that you can tell really put in work in the off-season. He should be a quality type player at the backer position next to Ballew. Two defensive ends that I think will emerge are Dana and Soundheimer.
At 6-foot-1, 180 pounds Soundheimer is the type that will just get the job done at all costs. Dana at 5-foot-10, 175 pounds is quick as a cat, the type of the player that will drive defensive coordinators crazy all night long.
Switching back to the offensive side of the football Rolando Chavarria, Ryan Bledsoe and Cody Donaghe are all three that will be key additions to what looks to be a very potent offense. As mentioned above junior quarterback Josh Houghtaling is new to the Bulldog varsity scene and by mid-season, expect to hear his name over and over again.
The Artesia Bulldogs again start off the season with the class 3A Lovington Wildcats. Even though this game has been somewhat lopsided in the last few years, most expect this Lovington team to very, very good and it is at Lovington which makes it a little more intriguing. Hobbs has a new coach and should move the football well in their new ground game attack.
Manzano beat the Bulldogs in Albuquerque on a Thursday night last season and the Bulldogs are more than likely going to pay back the favor in the Bulldog Bowl on 9-11. Deming will be much improved, the Eddy Country War will always be a battle, this is the first year the Cavemen will host the game on their new turf, then the Dogs travel to face the Dawgs from Las Cruces before hosting Clovis at home.
Tough two games back-to-back. Moriarty is their last non-district game before they face off with Roswell, and then the game we all have circled on our calender Artesia vs. Goddard on November 6th. This 2009 team will not lose five games, but they could drop a couple especially in that meaty part of the schedule. Last year the Clovis Wildcat's JV team put it on the Bulldogs pretty good. Is that an indication of the 2009 game, probably not, but Clovis is ranked #2 in the NMPreps.com's Pre-Seson Super Top 25.
New Mexico NEWS