Curry County Cats set to begin first season

Dave Wagner

Clovis is getting ready for football in February.

The first-year Curry County Cats, members of the semipro New Mexico Premier Football League, are slated to open an eight-game season on Feb. 19 against the Albuquerque Crush, the defending league champions.

Mike Muscato, Mike Thomas and Julian Rubio III, all Clovis High alumni, have organized the team. The 50-man roster includes numerous players with Clovis and area ties.

Muscato estimated that it has taken $30,000-35,000 to start the program.

“We’re up and running,” he said. “We’ve been practicing for probably 2 1/2 months, and everything’s good.”

Paul Lopez, a Clovis High grad and current Wildcats assistant, is the team’s head coach. Another alum, Francis Warner, is the assistant coach, while Muscato, Thomas and Rubio also help with coaching duties in addition to playing.

Lopez thinks the Cats will have a representative product.

“I’ve been coaching (at the high school level) since 2001, and it’s definitely different,” he said. “With some of the older guys, a lot of them never had a chance to play and they’re easier to coach.”

The roster is made up primarily of players between the ages of 20 and 40, and includes former CHS standouts such as Manuel Robles and Mario Caswell. Ex-Wildcats John Props and Quinn Culiver are scheduled to be the quarterbacks, Muscato said.

Lopez said the biggest concern in putting together a roster has been finding lineman-types.

“The thing with this (level) is you don’t have to coach them much,” he said. “You just tell them what to do and they do it.”

Muscato said the team practices on the rugby field near the AYSO soccer facility at 14th and Norris, adding that the workouts are open to the public. He said home games are scheduled for Leon Williams Stadium, although the Clovis Municipal School Board is scheduled to meet on Thursday for final approval.

“They’re going to let us use it,” Muscato said. “We’re just working out the details.”

He said he decided to try to get a team going after watching a game last year.

“I got on the phone with Mike (Thomas) after the game and said, ‘This is something Clovis needs,’” Muscato said. “It’s all come together really well, and the community is behind it.”

Other than the Saturday opener, all of the team’s games — four home and four away — are scheduled for Sundays.

SCHEDULE
February

19 — Albuquerque Crush, 2 p.m.; 27 — Las Cruces Kings, 3 p.m.
March
6 — at Albuquerque Soldiers, 3 p.m.; 13 — Albuquerque Blackhawks, 3 p.m.; 20 — at Alamogordo Dawgs, 3 p.m.; 27 — at New Mexico Titans, 3 p.m.
April
3 — BYE; 10 — at Albuquerque Razorbacks, 3 p.m.; 17 — Espanola Spartans, 3 p.m.