Texico High School junior Michael Johnson tracks the football during drills Tuesday at practice in Texico. CNJ photo by Eric Kluth.
By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent
Even after winning a state championship in 2003, the Texico Wolverines feel they have something to prove.
Texico coaches and players know that they will have a giant bulls-eye on their backs after last year’s undefeated run to the school’s fourth state title that included nine shutouts in 12 games.
“We can play for it every year — it’s not just a one-time thing,” said Texico senior running back Johnny Serrano during a break between practices on Tuesday morning.
“I know they’re gunning for us all the time now, because we were undefeated,” Serrano added. “Everyone just wants to beat us.”
One player particularly happy to be part of football practice again was senior Tony Clements.
Clements missed the entire state championship campaign when he tore an anterior cruciate ligament in a summer basketball game.
A split end on offense, Clements was an all-district defensive back in 2002 as a sophomore.
“It hurt a lot — knowing that you’re a good athlete and can’t do anything for your team,” Clements said. “I didn’t get to step on the field at all. This has been great, getting back on the field with all the guys.”
Texico coach Mike Prokop, according to Clements, hasn’t softened since he last played for him.
“Coach is always on us, trying to make us to the best we can,” Clements said.
Prokop said one of his biggest duties has been to squash talk of last year’s championship.
“We try to ignore it. But, you know, it’s hard with the press reminding you,” Prokop said. “We’re the defending Class A champs and everybody’s going to be gunning for us. But you can handle it if you come in with the right frame of mind — just trying to get better.”
The Texico players will strap on shoulder pads for the first time on Thursday — something Serrano said he is looking forward to.
“I’m ready. I’ve been ready. That’s when we start hitting people,” said Serrano, also a linebacker for the Wolverines. “Right now, we’re just tapping people — kind of moving them around.
“I don’t really like it. I love putting on pads and getting contact,” he added.