By Dave Wagner
Muleshoe football coach David Wood is glad the football season is here.
Wood, in his 10th year as the Mules’ football coach, underwent treatment for a form of leukemia in the spring. He’s ready to get back on the field today with the start of practice for Texas high schools.
New Mexico starts practice for fall sports Aug. 8.
Wood was diagnosed in early May and underwent chemotherapy treatments, but said the leukemia was discovered early and doctors believe they’ve been able to pretty much eradicate the disease.
The Mules are coming off a 9-3 season in which they made the Class 3A playoffs. Muleshoe beat Perryton in the first round before bowing out in a loss to Snyder.
“We’re excited,” Wood said. “It looks to be a good year. If our key people stay healthy, we should be in the thick of things.”
Muleshoe, which opens on Aug. 26 at Friona, returns seven starters on offense and six on defense. But Wood said the schedule is challenging.
“There’s some good teams everywhere we play,” he said. “We’ve got some depth, but we’ve got to stay healthy with our key people.”
Farwell coach Jacob Thompson said he hopes the Steers (5-5, 2-3 in District 4-1A last year) can regain the form that allowed them to reach the second round of the playoffs in 2003.
Thompson, entering his fifth year at the helm, said the Steers should be competitive despite the graduation of seven key seniors, five of whom played both ways.
“We’ve got enough kids back with playing time,” he said. “The big key for us is staying healthy. If we do, with the kids we’ve got we should do pretty well.”
Thompson said Farwell, which opens Aug. 26 at Plains, plans to make some minor position changes with some of its returnees. He said the Steers are switching from a 5-3 defense to a split-six.
Meantime, Bovina coach Kent Torbert said the Mustangs (2-8, 1-4 District 4-1A) are pretty well set on offense except for having to replace center Roger Martinez and three-year quarterback starter Jeff Casas. Senior Michael Ortiz, an all-district receiver and defensive back in 2004, will probably be the new QB, Torbert said.
Bovina graduated just three seniors from a year ago, and should have a veteran presence with 10 seniors this season. “We’re a little older and a little wiser,” said Torbert, in his third season as coach.
“We’ll be better,” he said. “If we take care of our business, we’ll be OK.”
Bovina’s opener is also on Aug. 26 when the Mustangs travel to Morton.