Prep preview: Texico reloads for another title run

Texico senior quarterback Zane Anderson shakes loosefrom freshman Brett Anderson Wednesday during practice at the school. Zane Anderson will replace Braden Vaughan, a four-year starter for the Wolverines. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By Dave Wagner: CNJ staff writer

The Texico Wolverines have gotten used to playing in the state Class 1A championship game.

Despite significant graduation losses, sixth-year coach Mike Prokop thinks his team is capable of making a run at a third consecutive crown and fifth appearance in a row in the title clash.

“We expect to be as good as we have been,” said Prokop, whose 47-11 record at the school includes a 35-1 mark over the past three seasons. “We have high expectations. But this team will have to make their own identity, and I think they’re up for it.”

Some of the toughest competition for the Wolverines should come in their own district, which also includes Loving, Jal and Hagerman. Fort Sumner, which knocked Texico out of the 2001 playoff quarterfinals and then beat the Wolverines for titles in 2002 and 2003, will also be heard from.

“Fort Sumner is going to be in the hunt,” Prokop said. “But I think we have one of the toughest districts year-in and-year out.”

Fort Sumner (8-4, 3-0 District 3-1A) lost in the first round of the playoffs last year, but the Foxes are usually a factor in 1A.

Second-year coach Dexter McDaniel, an assistant to Mario Martinez when Fort Sumner won five state titles, said the Foxes will go as far as their core of seniors takes them.
“Our school has gotten smaller (in enrollment); we really don’t have the numbers we’ve had,” he said. “It’s a matter of whether we can stay healthy.”

In six-man, Melrose lost to Floyd in the regular-season finale to determine the District 3 winner, then beat the Broncos three weeks later for the state championship.

Buffaloes coach Dickie Roybal will build around several talented seniors, including fleet running back Carlos Ruiz, but said the team will also have to find replacements for several key players lost to graduation.

Roybal, who expects Logan to make a strong challenge in the district race, said that with a smallish roster any injuries for the Buffs would be a factor.

“That’s my main concern,” he said. “We’re not very deep. Last year we had six seniors and (several) juniors; this year if we get anybody hurt, we’ll be in trouble.”

Meantime, Floyd is in a rebuilding stage after going 11-1 last year. Longtime Fort Sumner coach Rafael Roybal, who was a high school head football coach last season for the first time at Hart, Texas, has taken over the program.

He admits figuring out the six-man game has been a bit challenging.

“I’m trying to learn it,” Roybal said. “It’s a game a lot of people enjoy, but I’m not right now.”

At Clovis Christian, veteran coach Greg Darden returns after taking a year off.

The Eagles return three seniors from last year’s 2-7 team that finished 0-4 in district.

“The team is coming together and we just want to stay healthy,” Darden said.

On the Texas side, Muleshoe bounced back with a solid 9-3 season and a trip to the second round of the Class 3A playoffs after seeing its run of six consecutive postseason berths end in 2003.

Veteran coach David Wood said District 2-3A should be competitive from top to bottom, and the Mules expect to be right in it with a solid core of returning skill position players.

“We’ve got some holes to fill in the offensive line, but we don’t have many in the backfield,” he said. “Our district is so even. Littlefield finished last in the district last year, but they didn’t get blown out by anybody.”

In District 4-1A, Farwell and Bovina hope to move up after finishing fourth and fifth, respectively, in a six-team bracket during 2004.

Third-year Bovina coach Kent Torbert, whose team was 2-8 a year ago, said he was encouraged by the Mustangs’ play in scrimmages last week at Bovina against Memphis and Boys Ranch.

“I thought we played extremely well on offense, and we hit really well on defense,” he said. “I think we’ll be better this year.”

Farwell struggled to a 5-5 mark in 2004 after reaching the second round of the Class 1A playoffs the previous season.

“Last year was a huge disappointment,” Steers coach Jacob Thompson said. “We had some key kids that got hurt, just enough to slow us down. And our district was tougher than we anticipated.”

Team capsules
New Mexico

Clovis Christian Eagles
Six-man 3
Coach: Greg Darden (6th year)
2004 record: 2-7 (0-4 district, 5th)
Top returnees: Dustin Handley, Sr., 5-6, 160, WR-DB; Mike King, Sr., 5-6, 165, RB-LB; Sean Sena, Sr., 5-8, 175, QB-S.
Last time in postseason: none.
Coach Darden says: “Those three guys will be carrying the load. It’ll be up to them to step up. The team is coming together and we just want to stay healthy.”

Floyd Broncos
Six-man 3
Coach: Rafael Roybal (1st year)
2004 record:11-1 (4-0 district, 1st)
Top returnees: Brad Lee, Sr., 6-0, 185, rRB-LB; Kyle Kroft, Sr., 5-10, 155, QB-DE; Jason Martinez, Jr., 5-9, 165, RB-S.
Last time in postseason: 2004, lost to district rival Melrose in six-man championship game.
Coach Roybal says: “Our only goal is to get better every day. We just want to do the best we can and see if we can get better by the end of the year.”

Fort Sumner Foxes
Coach: Dexter McDaniel (2nd year)
2004 record: 8-4 (3-0 district, 1st)
Top returnees: Derek Dimitroff, Sr., 5-10, 205, Rb-LB; Ryan Fikany, Sr., 5-10, 160, RB-DB; Jeremy Gauna, Sr., 6-0, 170, RB-DE; Stephen Gallegos, Sr., 6-2, 220, WR-DE; Brenton Williamson, Sr., 6-1, 160, WR-DB; Matt Sena, Sr., 5-10, 180, G-LB.
Last time in postseason: 2004, lost to Texico in Class 1A semifinals.
Coach McDaniel says: “For us, it all comes down to staying healthy and how our seniors do.”

Melrose Buffaloes
Six-man 3
Coach: Dickie Roybal (9th year)
2004 record: 11-1 (3-1 district, 2nd)
Top returnees: Carlos Ruiz, Sr., 5-8, 150, RB-DE; Brock Graham, Sr., 5-8, 170, QB-DB; Cedar Rush, Sr., 6-0, 160, RB-DB.
Last time in postseason: 2004, beat district rival Floyd in six-man championship game.
Coach Roybal says: “Logan has the kids and the size (to challenge for the district title). They’re a very scary team.”

Texico Wolverines
Coach: Mike Prokop (6th year)
2004 record: 12-0 (3-0 district, 1st)
Top returnees: Ricky Burns, Sr., 6-2, 180, TE-DE; Aaron Vaughan, Sr., 6-3, 210, T-DE; Michael Johnson, Sr., 6-0, 185, G-DT; Zack Morgan, Jr., 6-0, 235, OT-DT; Zane Anderson, Sr., 5-9, 175, QB-S; Dustin McDaniel, Sr., 5-6, 190, FB-LB; Justin Garrison, Jr., 5-7, 145, RB-DB.
Last time in postseason: 2004, beat Cloudcroft to capture second consecutive Class 1A state championship.
Coach Prokop says: “We just want to keep getting better each week.”

Bovina Mustangs
Coach: Kent Torbert (3rd year)
2004 record: 2-8 (1-4 district, 5th)
Top returnees: Luis Munoz, Sr., 5-11, 240, OT-DT; Michael Ortiz, Sr., 5-9, 140, WR-CB; Josh Guevara, Sr., 5-9, 175, RB-LB; Bacilio Viernes, Sr., 6-0, 260, OT-DT.
Last time in postseason: 1996, lost in first round of Class 2A playoffs.
Coach Torbert says: “We’re going to stick to the philosophy of putting the best kids on the field. That means we’ll have a lot of kids going both ways.”

Farwell Steers
District: 4-1A
Coach: Jacob Thompson (5th year)
2004 record: 5-5 (2-3 district, 4th)
Top returnees: Matthew Edwards, Sr., 5-6, 151, RB-LB; Logan McFarland, Sr., 5-11, 185, RB-LB; Luis Olmos, Sr., 5-5, 195, TE-LB; Jon Beaubein, Sr., 5-10, 215, OT-DT; Derrick Chandler, Jr., 6-2, 170, QB-DB; Colton Sudderth, Sr., 6-1, 205, C-DE; Roper Smith, Sr., 5-7, 180, G-DE; Juan Carlos Vidaurri, Sr., 5-6, 185, G-DT; Colby Norton, Sr., 5-8, 160, SE-LB; Brett Howard, Jr., 5-9, 160, SE-DB.
Last time in postseason: 2003, lost to Sunray in second rouond of Class 1A playoffs.
Coach Thompson says: “I think we’ll be pretty good as long as we stay healthy. We’re just not very deep.”

Muleshoe Mules
Coach: David Wood (10th year)
2004 record: 9-3 (3-1 district, 2nd)
Top returnees: Brady Black, Sr., 6-1, 200, RB-S; Brant Hamilton, Jr., QB, 6-1, 175; Geoff Sirkle, Sr., 6-0, 225, C-DE; Juan Reyes, Sr., 5-8, 160, WR-CB; Caleb Heinrich, Sr., 6-0, 185, FB-LB
Last time in postseason: 2004, lost to Snyder in second round of Class 3A playoffs.
Coach Wood says: “We like what we see right now. Our strength is our speed, which is something I’ve never said before at Muleshoe.

— Compiled by Dave Wagner