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Team Preview: Las Cruces
The Skinny: Last run at the State Title for one of the best coaching staffs in the State of New Mexico? With a fourth Las Cruces Public School recently added to the City of Las Cruces, it seems as though it's only a matter of time until Las Cruces High is hit population wise by Centennial High School as slowly the Las Cruces giants like Mayfield and Las Cruces High School slowly lose their prep football dominance they've had over New Mexico for the last 15-years. Smaller enrollments are expected at Las Cruces High in the future, but present day there is no doubt that this current group of Bulldawgs are sitting on the verge of something truly special. A senior group loaded with talent and the Pre-Season Number One Ranked Team by NMPreps.com is basically pretty dam good.
Offensive Outlook: The giant question mark heading into the 2012 season for Las Cruces High was: How good is Jonathan Joy at quarterback going to be? "Joy has improved tremendously year over year and to be honest, he probably throws the best long ball out of any quarterbacks we've had over the last 15-years. He's very comparable to Matt Montoya," Commented Jim Miller, the Bulldawg's Head Coach since 1998. Montoya led the Bulldawgs to the 2002 State Tile Game over cross town rival Mayfield, which is the only time the two titans of New Mexico Prep Football have ever met in the State Title Game.
Joy who will be a senior this year played a big during his junior season, however he just did not have it on Friday Nights, thus Devon Perez saw a majority of the snaps. This year is night and day, with Joy being one of the better quarterbacks we've seen all summer long previewing over 30 high school football teams in New Mexico. His footwork is very good, he steps up in the pocket and is highly accurate across the middle of the field. Of course, it helps when you have the State's most dominating offensive line right in front of you. The Dawgs will average 283.8 pounds up front, yeah it's going to be a special group as we were stating earlier.
Rudy Guerra at 6-foot-1 and 313 pounds was one of the top offensive linemen at the recent NMPreps Elite Combine with 31 reps at 185 pounds. He is vastly underrated and one we feel is a D-1 prospect. Oscar Guzman at 6-foot-1 and 242 pounds will take over at center and we've had him ranked far too low in our prospect rankings this summer. He's super impressive and will be a top two-way linemen in 2012. Lane Cummings at 6-foot-1 and 265 pounds will be a two-year starter and one who blew up at the NMPreps Elite Combine as well. Good feet, great base of power, and in our minds the most improved offensive linemen heading into this pre-season.
While we like him as one of the top defensive tackles in the State 6-foot-1, 300 pound Jacob Benegas is a scary pulling guard to linebackers across trying to scrap to the outside. What sets Benegas apart from the pack is his speed for his size. Also if needed up front the Dawgs have 6-foot-2, 292 Pound Taylor Tisby who can got at guard or tackle. From the trenches out, the Dawgs have two tight ends that are 220 pounds. D-1 Prospect Kamryn Dixon at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds should be hauling in a host of D-1 offers over the course of the summer and watch for 2014 Prospect Sam Denmark as a top tight end as well.
Their receivers are very crisp and there is four that make this unit one of the better corps of receivers in the State of New Mexico. Chris Rojans, Michael Holguin, Michael Calzada, and Jalen Bishop are all speed receivers with great hands and wonderful routes. At the running back position this will be the first time since 2005 that a member of the "Hall Family" is not the starter in the backfield. Look for J.J. Grendados to emerge as a power back and look for Austin Salas to be their scat back. Two very solid backs that are unproven and eager to prove themselves this season.
Defensive Outlook: Their defense starts with their two returning TNT's Jacob Benegas at 6-foot-1 and 300 pounds and Taylor Tisby at 6-foot-2, and 288 pounds. Each had a strong junior season, Tisby had over 10 sacks in 2011.
The two reached the NMPreps Elite Showcase this year during the linemen challenge and really are the spark of the defense. Teams are going to be forced to run outside all day long as getting up the middle against Las Cruces will be a train wreck on each play.
David Ramirez along with 6-foot-2, 222 pound Kamryn Dixon will be their two defensive ends. Dixon as mentioned earlier is ranked as the number one overall prospect by NMPreps.com and has the athleticism to chase down really any offensive player in the backfield.
While we liked him as a junior, he's worked on all phases of the game to improve as a senior and is the team's vocal leader on and off the field. At linebackers, the Dawgs have 6-foot-1, 220 pound Sam Denmark out of the Class of 2014 who had a monster showing at the Combine.
He benched 185 pounds 20 times, ran a 4.81 40-time, ran a 4.61 shuttle, and had a 30 inch vertical jump, some of the best overall testing numbers for any 2014 prospect that attended the event. Him, along with Paul Arugirre will be a very solid duo. In the secondary both Michael Calzada and Michal Holguin return as starters, throw in Chris Rojas and even Jalen Bishop as secondary impact players. Defensive grade overall is an A+
Their schedule kicks off with Chapin El Paso which will present a good week one test as the Huskies always have some of the best speed in in El Paso. A match up with Eldorado from Albuquerque is week two and one that will match up size vs. size. The two teams have battled over the last five years, Eldorado still remembers the 2008 State Title Game loss vividly.
They have Cibola in Albuquerque and then play in what many feel could be a preview of either a 5A semifinal match up or the 2012 5A State Title Game when the Dawgs make the trip to face Rio Rancho. Remember, last year Rio Rancho ended Las Cruces' season in over 48-41 in Las Cruces. La Cueva and Artesia are their next two district games right before district starts and of course that November 9th match up is already marked down on the calendar of everyone in the 575 Area Code Range.
Overall, what's not to like about Las Cruces? On paper they are the Pre-Season Favorite, but they still have to execute and stay healthy for more 14 weeks. 5A is a shark tank, with a Bulldawg as the current alpha male. We feel this is one of the best assembled teams in Las Cruces History.
New Mexico NEWS