Players’ notions change after all-star week

By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent

ALBUQUERQUE — Heading into the week of all-star football practices, which culminated in a 24-7 victory for the South on Friday, Clovis linemen Randy Cerda and Aaron Simon may have had certain preconceived notions about some things.

At the end of the week, some of those were all but forgotten in light of the all-star experience in Albuquerque.

In the trenches, both of the recent Wildcats’ seniors were side-by-side with players they battled against in the past.

In fact, the six players from Clovis were matched only by the six representing Mayfield, a team Clovis faced in last year’s Class 5A state championship game.

“It’s been awesome getting to know all these guys, making lifelong friends I may never have got to meet if I didn’t come here,” said Simon, who will play at Angelo State in the fall.

While Simon still has memories from the loss to the Trojans in the last game of the 2005 season, he sounded surprised at himself in light of his recent change of outlook.

“It really doesn’t bother me much anymore; it really doesn’t,” Simon said. “We may have been rivals during the season, but we’ve all graduated and we’re pretty tight now. We’ve come together as a team, had some fun, cutting up together.”

The South football squad was certainly the more visible one throughout all-star week in Albuquerque. At the North-South all-star volleyball match on Tuesday, one player (Artesia quarterback Denny Burnett) donned pink boots and did pushups at courtside.

During the big-schools basketball all-star game, 11 South football players went shirtless in order to spell out the words “dirty south.” The days began early for the South football players, who were staying at a dormitory hall at the University of New Mexico campus.

“We get up every morning at seven — he turns on the light and bangs on the door, wakes us up,” Cerda said.

The “he” in question?

“Roany,” answered Cerda, who will play at New Mexico Highlands next season. Eric Roanhaus was the head coach for the South squad and was accompanied by the rest of his Clovis High assistants.

Cerda admitted feeling some anxiousness about living for a week in the same hall as his former coach.

He also said yelling back, in retaliation for the early knocks on the door, had crossed his mind.

“I wanted to, but it was kind of scary,” Cerda said. “It’s been all right, though — not as bad as I thought it would be.”