Today we highlight a few major story lines heading into the 2013 season. Pigskin Preview Linked Here
D-1 Prospects A Plenty
The Class of 2011 produced 10 Division One Commitments. It's not officially recorded, but that is among the most New Mexico High School Football Players to sign within one recruiting class.
The Class of 2014 already has six athletes that have been offered from Division One schools before the season has even started. Sandia's Defensive End Cammron Bean has five offers, his biggest is from Arizona.
The 6-foot-4, 238 pounds prospect had a huge play-off showing and it's even rumored that he could see a little bit of quarterback this season.
Cleveland's Desmond Branch at 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds has offers from UTEP, New Mexico, and New Mexico State.
The Aggies have really sped up the recruiting in New Mexico offering Las Cruces Linebacker Sam Denmark, and landing verbal commitments from Rio Rancho Linebacker Travis Parnell and Grants Quarterback Cassius Corley.
Cleveland Tight End Sterling Napier holds and early offer from UTEP and it's likely that top rated New Mexico Running Back Kamal Cass out of Clovis, New Mexico picks up his offer from the New Mexico Lobos in the next few weeks.
The Class of 2015 has one prospect which has official offers and that is 6-foot-7, 226 pound Zach Gentry who holds offers from New Mexico, New Mexico, and Louisville.
Year of Rio Rancho
Is a Rio Rancho vs. Cleveland Title Game in the future? While each team is ranked in the NMPreps.com Top 5 in 5A in the pre-season rankings accurately predicting high school football from months out is nearly impossible.
Rio Rancho who enters the season as the Pre-Season Number One will have a truly dynamic passing attack this year led by Junior Quarterback Easton Bruere. His targets include KJ Jiggetts and Tristen Foley, two receivers that could easily hit the 1,000-yard mark this season.
Their offensive line is huge, their defense features two D-1 linebackers, really Rio Rancho has all the pieces to make a true run at the title. Cleveland, who has already won a state championship at the 5A level back in 2011 has an extremely talented Class of 2014.
They have a few D-1 prospects and return 6-foot-5, 190 pound quarterback Kiam Homme who should have a monster season.
Their defense is anchored by Desmond Branch one of the top defensive ends in New Mexico and two impact linebackers in Mackay Dunlap and Damien Speaker. Each of the two Rio Rancho teams are loaded this year.
5A More Wide Open Than Ever
In 2011 we knew it would be Cleveland, in 2012 we knew it would be Las Cruces, but the 2013 season looks to have a ton of parity across the board in Class 5A.
Rio Rancho is the pre-season #1, but the two teams that played for the 5A state title last year Las Cruces and Sandia also return a healthy amount from last year. Las Cruces returns eight on defense and 1,600-yard running back J.J. Granados.
Sandia loses some big guns on offense, but their defense returns seven starters from last year including what looks like to be the most dominate front four in New Mexico with Cammron Bean, Jeremiah Thompson, Julian Pena, and Tre Matthews.
Cleveland, who we already talked about returns six on offense and six on defense with two prospects that already have D-1 offers. Mayfield is Mayfield and has one of the top 2015 Quarterbacks in the land.
Valley a team that everyone has their eye on, returns 18 starters from a team that was just 10 points away from being 10-1 last year. Clovis returns D-1 Prospect Kamal Cass at Running Back who ran for 2,400-yards as a junior, Manzano returns their backfield along with some of the best skill players in the State.
Eldorado is led by 6-foot-7 Quarterback Zack Gentry, Volcano Vista returns some serious talent at running back, a 6-foot-5 receiver, and a defensive back by the Brandon Madrid who had nine interceptions as a junior.
Carlsbad returns 6-foot-4, 215 Quarterback Rodney Holcomb, Atrisco is massive up front and won't take too big of a step back from their 8-3 season under second year head Coach Patrick Johnson.
It's going to be an amazing year to track 5A football.
End To The Valencia County Curse
Will one of the three Valencia County Teams break the play-off big game curse in 2013? Over the last five football seasons Valencia County's Top Teams are a combined 56-6.
Teams from Valencia County from 2012-2008 are 0-2 against Goddard in State Title Games and have been knocked out by Aztec three times in the semifinals. Los Lunas Team Preview Linked Here
2012 Los Lunas 12-1 *Lost in the finals
2011 Valencia 11-1 *Lost in the semifinals
2010 Belen 11-1 *Lost in the semifinals
2009 Belen 12-1*lost in the finals
2008 Belen 10-2 *lost in the semifinals
Still Goddard In 4A
Goddard completed their first ever perfect season under Head Football Coach Sam Jernigan during the 2012 season going 13-0. They lose some fantastic defensive linemen such as David Chavers, David Sweet, and offensive linemen Kullen Wooten.
The good news is Goddard returns 1,000-yard running back Cody French who could make a case for the most complete running back in New Mexico.
The Goddard Rockets have reached the State Title Game in 2012, 2011, 2009, 2008, 2007, and in 2006 graduating some major talent.
The well is not dry at Goddard, nor does anyone in their right mind think so. This group is going to be tough to overthrow from atop the 4A mountain once again.
3A Open For The Taking
The St. Michael's Horsemen went 13-0 during the 2012 season winning their third state football championship under Head Coach Joey Fernandez since the 2003 season.
Lovington had their grasp on the 3A title from 2009 to 2011 in fact the only other teams to win the 3A over the last seven seasons is Portales and Robertson.
This year, watch for the usual suspects again and keep an eye on Southern Teams Silver and Ruidoso. Ruidoso lost just two games last year which were both against Silver and they return a ton of talent into the 2013 season.
Silver who lost in the 3A finals last year against St. Michael's only 10-7 returns their starting quarterback and a defensive back by the name of Franky Castillo who had six interceptions last year.
From the North keep tabs on Robertson who was really young in 2012 and also Bloomfield who returns a very good quarterback in Robert Lyon. 3A is open for the taking in the first time in several years.
Santa Rosa's Quest For Four In A Row
From 2003 to 2005 Class 2A was dominated by Hatch Valley who won three in a row. From 2006 to 2009 four different teams in 2A won the State Championship.
Then from 2009 to 2012 2A again has been dominated by one team: The Santa Rosa Lions who were perfect last year under third year Head Coach Mario Trujillo who has won a state championship every year since his take over.
They lose Marcus Lopez and Tim Valverde in the backfield, which is losing 3,585-yards of offense. The Lions do return five offensive starters headlined by Right Guard Francisco Padilla at 275 pounds. Their defense should also be very strong led by Lawrence Aguirre at linebacker and Zeke Sena at Defensive Back.
Hatch is the team most 2A programs are talking about in the pre-season. They return All-State Quarterback Chase Carson who put up some monster junior numbers and Miguel Gonzales on the offensive line. The Bears are led by Jack Cisco who was just nominated into the High School Coaches Hall of Fame.
Escalante, Hagerman, Capitan, Chase 1A Title
Ft. Sumner won state titles in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, but in the last two years it's been Mesilla Valley and last year it was Dusty Giles and the Escalante Lobos beating Captain 48-30. The overall competition in 1A has risen over the years with at least five strong teams gunning for the title each year.
Escalante is the front runner returning NMPreps.com Mr. Football Candidate Reynaldo Atencio who ran for 2,778-yards and 46 touchdowns as a junior and also return running back Cody Casados who ran for 1,330-yards and 17-touchdowns.
Hagerman is going to have their say led by Quarterback Alejandro Ramos who threw for 23 touchdowns last year as a sophomore. Capitan, Ft. Sumner, and McCurdy will each be in the mix, Capitan and McCurdy will have new head coaches in 2013.