With Clovis' 55-0 victory over Santa Fe Capital Friday, longtime Wildcat coach Eric Roanhaus passed Jim Bradley to become New Mexico's winningest prep football coach. His career record, all at Clovis, is 311-116-5 over 35 seasons.
Over the last two seasons, we've engaged in a long, but entertaining project. If we ran into somebody who played for Roanhaus, coached with him, etc., we asked, "What's your favorite Coach Roanhaus story?"
What follows are the stories the editors let us print. Storytellers not listed are encouraged to leave a comment on Facebook or send their own story to Kevin Wilson (email@example.com) for consideration as part of the online version.
First game he ever coached. We played Los Alamos. I was the defensive coordinator. We went back for a pre-game prayer. At the end of the prayer he said, "Protect us from major industries, and protect us from victory." (The Wildcats beat the Hilltoppers 41-2).
— Darrell Bode, CHS defensive coordinator 1970-85
It was in 1982, and we were playing Eldorado in the semifinals. Coach Roanhaus' (car) starter was out. He was going from the ignition to the battery, back and forth, back and forth in the parking lot. Just watching him go back and forth, it looked like he had more trouble with that starter than we had the whole game. We won it 32-3.
It's neat to be part of the tradition. I was there during the time we won five straight. They knew where the blue trophy was going to end up every year — in eastern New Mexico.
— Mark Sanchez, Class of 1983
He told me I had one of the biggest hearts he had ever seen. He told me to use that in life beyond football.
I was 5-foot-5, 120, and I started at five positions for a state championship team. I'm very proud of that, but he's the one who encouraged me.
It's not a moment in particular, just a constant motivation. He could inspire the dead to wake up.
— David Sena, Class of 1992
We're in Las Vegas Robertson playing in a 7-on-7 camp. Coach Roanhaus told me I was the worst damn quarterback in the nation.
One of the Robertson assistant coaches went up to (then Robertson coach) Chad Roanhaus, and tapped him on the shoulder.
"Did you hear what he just said, Chad? You're not the worst damn quarterback in America anymore. Jordan Mendoza is."
— Jordan Mendoza, Class of 2008
Roanhaus has been hard on kids to get the best out of them. It's the 1994 state championship game (Clovis vs. Goddard). We kick off to Goddard, they go three-and-out. They punt to us, and I muff the punt; they get it back and they kick a field goal. I stayed way, far away from Roanhaus because I thought he was going to chew my butt.
Next time Goddard's punting, I get out on the field. There he is 15 yards from me. He told me, "Lopez, you're the best. You're one of the best."
From that point, I was ready to go. We ended up winning 14-10. I scored on a 22-yard reverse with 1:31 left to win the game. If he hadn't told me that, I would have played down the rest of the game.
That's something that's special in my life, because it brought a championship back to Clovis. If it wasn't for Roanhaus, I wouldn't be in the profession I'm in.
— Paul Lopez, Class of 1995
CNJ staff photo: Kevin WilsonClovis coach Eric Roanhaus, left, has a sideline conference with assisant coaches Chuck Jordan, left, and Chad Roanhaus. The Wildcats' 55-0 win over Santa Fe Capital Friday night put Roanhaus in first place on the all-time wins list in New Mexico prep history. He is 311-116-5 in 35 seasons coaching the Wildcats.
There are so many stories, it's too hard to pick from. I think the one thing I remember is how he always taught us about life after football. He was trying to make us stronger people and prepare us for the real world. I think every person who came out were stronger because of him. They made their own decisions, they made their own lives. But he improved what they did. I think you'll find a lot of players feel the same way.
— Jordan Hill, Class of 2011
In 1981, we were playing Hobbs on the road. We had to win to get into the playoffs. We took the game 16-15. In the post-game interview, Roanhaus told a reporter, "The game was a lot closer than the score indicated."
— Pat Dixon, former CHS defensive coordinator
We were going to face Highland, who had (future Nebraska Cornhusker) Bobby Newcombe at quarterback, in the state semifinals. It was my junior year, and I was the scout team quarterback. We're running goal line plays, and I tripped at the 1.
Roanhaus comes out screaming, "(Expletive), Fullerton, we've got Bobby Newcombe coming here and you're running the option like Herman (expletive) Munster."
— Cal Fullerton, Class of 1998, CHS assistant coach
I'm going to have to say it was when we got him tied (with Bradley) to be the most winning coach in the state. He wasn't really too enthusiastic about it. He said it was just another step to our real goal, going to state. He gave us encouraging words, and told us it was a good win, but we need to get ever better to get the blue trophy.
We came up shorthanded and lost against Manzano (the following week). But I have to say playing for him was one of the best experiences of my high school life.
— Apollo Sena, Class of 2012
In a game I had two picks. On one of them, I got caught on the 2 yard line from behind on the return.
We watched it about 20 times on film. He goes, "Roberts, we've watched this film 20 times, and you've gotten caught on every damn one of them."
— Thomas Roberts, Class of 2002
Coach Roanhaus always had a nickname for me, Little (expletive). In my senior year, I had a big game at Carlsbad.
We're on the bus ride home, and I come up to him. I put my arm around him and tell him, "So, six catches, 218 yards, pair of touchdowns. Am I still a little (expletive)?"
Roanhaus said, "Bibbs, you can come back 20 years from now, I'll still be here, and you'll still be a little (expletive)."
— Moses Bibbs, Class of 2009
I think it's all the sayings he used to tell me. When I had my afro, he said I looked like a dirty Q-Tip. Or when I was so skinny, he told me I had to jump around in the shower to get wet.
It's like that all the time being around Coach Roanhaus; you never know what he's going to say. The best thing, he wasn't known for starting young guys, but when he pulled me up, he told me, "It's in your hands now." He just showed the confidence in me. I really appreciate it.
If it wasn't for Coach Roanhaus, all he instilled in me about being a leader, I wouldn't (have ended up in the NFL).
— Hank Baskett, Class of 2001
In the early '80s when we were having our run of five consecutive state championships, we had a game in the playoffs against Alamogordo, I believe. It was the week of Thanksgiving, so we were not in school, and we had a morning practice on Thanksgiving Day, as has always been the tradition with Coach Roanhaus.
We had an all-state running back (who I won't name) that did not show up for practice that day. It was cold and snowy. Coach Roanhaus said he was not going to play in the playoff game that weekend, since he failed to show up to practice on Thursday. Everyone was fine was that, even though it was our star running back; he had to suffer the consequences of his actions.
On game day, we received the kick-off, went three and out and punted to Alamogordo. They took the ball on their first possession and drove the length of the field to take a 7-0 lead. On our next offensive play, the running back that did not attend practice on Thursday went 80 yards for a touchdown to tie the score.
I was on the headsets in the press box. I told Coach Roanhaus, "I thought you weren't going to play (him)." He responded, "You know, you can only carry that discipline so far."
What he really meant to say was, "Why punish those other 40 kids who had busted their tails to have a chance to play for a state championship? Because you were trying to make a point with one particular player?"
We went on to win the game and the state championship.
— Randy Adrian, former Clovis High athletic director
I was a senior in 1984-85. I grew up in Clovis, moved there when I was in fifth grade. My dad worked out at Cannon. I moved off after my freshman year, but we moved back the summer before my senior year.
My intentions at that time were to just play basketball, not be a part of football at all. When the football season started, we played Palo Duro; that Friday night, I was up in the stands.
Clovis and Palo Duro tied 0-0. I contemplated approaching him; I didn't know him. I thought about talking to him to see if I could come out for the team.
I talked myself into it. On Monday morning, I found him in the hallway and told him my story. I said, "I think I can help you."
He looked at me like I was an idiot, and said, "What can you do?" I said I could kick field goals.
During PE, he took me out on the field and told me, "Let's do some kickoffs." I hit a few, did pretty good, got it close to the goal line.
He said, "Let's kick some extra points." I warmed up a little bit. I started kicking them over the track, over the fence. We moved back; I hit four in a row from more than 40 yards.
He said, "Come with me; you'll be starting Friday night."
I ended up being a part of that team. I was always kind of grateful to him for just giving me an opportunity to be a part of that. I ended up going to Eastern New Mexico on a kicking scholarship, and I played four years down there. He was very influential in getting me hired at Yucca after I got out of college, and he brought me onto his staff a year later. For a field goal kicker, that was a great opportunity. There's no way I'd be where I am today if it hadn't been for him and the coaches on his staff.
— Bob Gilbreath, defensive coordinator, Azle, Texas, Class of 1985
A few years ago, I was doing news on a radio station in Clovis and decided to do an April Fool's joke saying Roanhaus had quit the football position to take a basketball coaching job in Los Lunas.
He willingly played along. You know how you use sound bites from the coaches? We recorded him saying he was looking for a new challenge and how he was a JV coach for a season, so he thought he'd try it.
He's more than willing to go along with a joke. It went about 20 seconds before the person on the radio with me gave it up. It could have made the rounds for maybe a few hours (otherwise). He can deadpan with anybody. He made it sound believable.
— Eric Butler
It was my junior year, after the ESPN game (Clovis defeated Artesia in a 2007 game broadcast on ESPNU, mainly focusing on Oklahoma-bound Artesia quarterback Landry Jones).
Coach Roanhaus told me I had won an award. I was surprised and excited; it was a big production, but I didn't know they were giving out awards. I asked him what the award was for.
He said, "Smallest (expletive) running back ever."
I still thought he might have been serious. I came into the locker room the next day asking for it, and he looked at me like I was an idiot.
— Scott McMath, Class of 2009
I started as a head coach when I was 24. He's always been good and helpful. I'll always have memories of him helping us out and kicking our butts, even though we've gotten better over the years.
He'll always say about kids who aren't very tough, "Their kids won't bite a hot biscuit."
— Aaron Ocampo, Las Cruces Centennial head coach
Last April, my father fell and was down for two days before someone found him. It was an unusual situation. My brother lived in Albuquerque and I was in Alamogordo. Eric went and stayed with my dad. He ended up passing away later.
Eric went there and stayed with him until my brother got there, like family. Most people don't think of Coach Roanhaus as being that kind of kind-hearted individual.
— Eddie Kilmer, assistant coach, Cleveland High School; coached at Clovis 1976-2000
I was at Santa Fe High one year in a very similar relationship (to a current rebuilding job at Capital). We had a very poor team. That was the first time I'd faced Coach Roanhaus.
We took the opening kickoff, marched the length of the field and scored a touchdown.
I looked on the other side of the field and he was about to explode. He had about a 44-inch neck.
I looked at my assistant coach and said we were in deep trouble. Sure enough, we were.
To his credit, the end of that story is he never ran it up (Clovis won 55-6). He seized control in a very forceful way, and he didn't humiliate us. He always played with class. I was very thankful for his grace and class.
— Bill Moon, Santa Fe Capital coach
A group of us had hidden some Cokes in the ice room, and we'd kept it secret from Coach Roanhaus.
It was my turn to stand guard one day, and I'm holding the door. Somebody tries to come in, and he hits his head on the door.
I yell, "Come back later, (expletive)."
Right after that, the locker room went silent. It was Coach Roanhaus on the other side of the door. He yells, "Wheeler, open the door. I drink Cokes and I tell jokes, but I do not (mess around)."
— Cade Wheeler, Class of 2007
Whenever I'd go into Coach Roanhaus' office, he'd say, "You know what I like about you, Burns?"
I'd respond, "Not a (expletive) thing, sir."
He'd say, "There you go, Burns."
— Jared Burns, Class of 2010
I played for Dunny Goode. When Roanhaus came to Clovis High School, I was a junior. Coach Roanhaus came through as the JV coach.
When I graduated, I came back and was very fortunate to come back in the 90s and coach with Coach Roanhaus. Coach Goode went through some health issues around that time, and he was at the nursing home/retirement ranch.
Before he passed away, Coach Roanhaus would always make sure Dunny was taken care of. It taught me a lot about taking care of responsibilities. You take care of those who took care of you.
— Michael Prokop, Head coach, Friona High School
It was my senior year. Kaven Creamer had just been cleared to practice after an injury, and he was just crushing everybody in practice. Kaven comes in on a play against Kamal Cass, and Kamal steps out of his way. Kaven trips, but he still crushes Jaheem Prioleau, who wasn't even his target, with his hit.
Roanhaus makes a mark on his clipboard and says, "Kaven 5, Opponents 1." He'd been keeping score all practice.
— Eddie Trevizo, Class of 2012
He would always say, "You're so lazy, you'll marry a pregnant girl." That's my favorite one of his clean sayings.
— Kaven Creamer, Class of 2012
CNJ staff photo: Kevin WilsonEric Roanhaus, center, is flanked by assistant coach Darren Kelley and former Clovis High Athletic Director Randy Adrian in a ceremony for his 311th career victory Friday night at Leon Williams Stadium. Roanhaus has coached the Wildcats since 1978.
One time we were at practice; I was a senior. It's cold outside, maybe about 22 degrees. Coach Roanhaus comes out with his hat and gloves on.
Hank Baskett comes out with his hair out of the braids. He has a big ol' afro; he has hair coming out of his helmet's earholes.
Coach Roanhaus would not let it go. All practice, he was saying stuff like, "Come on Hank, this ain't the 70s."
— Tevaughn Loudermill, Class of 2001
We had a kid who worked at McDonald's on the team, and we're going through practice. Coach Roanhaus is chewing him out for something, and then he adds, "And tell your boss they put too much lettuce in those Big Macs."
It was completely out of nowhere. Later on in the practice, I was next to him and I said, "Big Macs? Really?"
He said, "Well, they do."
— Darren Kelley, Class of 1986, CHS defensive coordinator
It was my senior season. We were getting ready for a game, and one of the guys comes into the locker room late.
"Where were you?" Coach Roanhaus asks.
"I was in my car," he said. "I was jammin' to my tunes."
Roanhaus said, "Well, jam your (expletive) out of here. You're not playing tonight."
He didn't suit up that night.
— Drooper Greenwalt, Class of 1986
We were running routes. It was a fly route, and I curved to the inside. Jordan (Mendoza) threw it to the outside shoulder.
I've always been hard-headed. Coach and I were exchanging words, and it got pretty ugly. When he told me to take my helmet off, I thought I was done. I was telling my buddy Jaden Isler, "I don't think I'm playing anymore."
Instead, he apologized in front of the whole team. He's actually a human being who admits mistakes.
— Bryce Hill, Class of 2008
We were getting ready for the playoffs my senior year (1979). Second week in November, we were playing Albuquerque High. Early in the week, we had a bad snowstorm.
We looked outside and there were several inches of snow on the ground. We asked if we were going to go outside. He said, "Of course we're going to go outside. We're not going to be weenies. We're going to go out there, we're going to work out and we're going to prepare for the playoffs."
By the time we were an hour in, we were in a full blizzard. I do remember being almost knee-deep in snow because nobody could move, nobody could see. A lot of the players were asking the coach if we were still going to finish the workout.
I remember him saying, "Well, we've got enough outside work. Now let's go do some inside work."
We were tough enough to go out there and work out in the snow, and we beat Albuquerque High (33-0).
He did things his way, and everybody went with it. As a coach, I've learned why he did the things he did. It made us better players and better people, and I think it made me a better coach.
— Phil Lopez, Class of 1980, head coach at El Paso Bel Air
After I had a great game, he always used to say, "That kid's so damn fast, he can get open in a phone booth."
— Mark Trujillo, Class of 1993
We went to college together (at West Texas State, now West Texas A&M). We played on a fraternity basketball team and went to Oklahoma City for a tournament. He told me if I didn't pass him the ball every time, it would not be good for me. He's a big guy, and I'm a little guy, so I can promise you I passed it to him every time.
The thing about Eric nobody knows about is that he could have played basketball in college and started for WT, and that's during one of their big runs in basketball.
— Bruce Dollar, former Hobbs football coach
All the players line up to do sprints at the end of practice. Whenever we have done some sprints and are very tired and think the sprints are over with, he would tell us a joke just to make it go by faster.
Sometimes, he would ask if any of us would have a joke to tell. If we said we did, he'd respond, "Not now. We have work to do and (we should) finish our sprints."
I really enjoyed playing for Coach and learned a lot from him and I am very proud that he has made it to be the top coach in New Mexico.
— Kenneth Castillo, Class of 1985
When the top two teams (from each district) were making the playoffs, Clovis was coming up here (in 1992) to play an undefeated Los Lunas team. They were led by a kid named Buster Wade, star tailback.
Eric and I had a chance to discuss the playoffs that year. If Eric called me during the course of the season (I knew his team was pretty good, because) he'd call and ask what was going on up there in Albuquerque. He knew everything that was going on everywhere, but he'd dumb it down.
I asked him how he felt about his team. He said, "We're not very good, but we're still good enough to beat Los Lunas." (Clovis cruised to a 44-10 win.)
He never ran the score up on people, he never tried to rub it in.
From that phone call, I knew that inside him he had the drive, and he was going to get those Wildcats to advance. Of all of the records, the most impressive one is the 21 years winning those first-round playoff games (without a loss).
— David Williams, retired, coached 25 seasons at Del Norte and Eldorado
Back in 1981, that was when we won five straight. We should have won one in 1980. That's when (Eldorado) had Jim Everett … and we had the inadvertent whistle (a Clovis trick play was blown dead when it fooled the officials, negating what would have been a Wildcat touchdown in a 14-11 loss).
Back in those days, Clovis had a TV station, KMCC. It was a local affiliate of KAMC in Lubbock. We had a coaches show on Sunday nights, it was called "Purple Pride Plus." We would do a video of the game, show plays. We'd have that on set and he would go through the game itself by the videos.
At the time, I believe he was the only high school coach in America that had his own coach's show on TV. I couldn't prove it, but I'm about 95 percent sure. We did that for about three years.
We'd have people in Clovis, Portales, Bovina and Muleshoe watch it. We'd videotape it Saturday. It would come on at 9 on Sunday.
What I've always said to him is because of that, I made him what he is today.
— Nick Brady
It was my junior season in 2006. We were doing our goalline offense. Coach Roanhaus was always on Luke Masters' case during games and practices for not catching passes. During the practice, Luke made an amazing one-handed catch in the end zone. Roanhaus fell out of his chair and faked a heart attack. The whole team went nuts, laughing and falling down as well.
— Jaden Isler, Class of 2008
One of Roanhaus' favorite things to say — that is clean enough for this — is he would call out your name. He'd say, "Strebeck, you've got a great shot at playing college football. There's a college that's interested in you.
"It's called P-U."
That's about the cleanest story that I could think of, after Jaden stole the Luke Masters story.
— Layne Strebeck, Class of 2008
During my senior year, we had tape on our lockers that said, "FLC." When Coach Roanhaus asked us what it meant, we told him "Fight Like Cats." He said, "OK," and went on with the day.
Right before we were going to play La Cueva in Albuquerque, we were in the locker room in our huddle. He said, "All right everybody … '(Expletive) La Cueva,' on 3." We all looked at him like he was crazy.
He said, "I knew all along what that tape said, but if told you I knew, I would have had to make you guys take it off your lockers." La Cueva had been undefeated for more than two years; it sure felt good when we ended it (A 10-7 Clovis victory snapped the Bears' 28-game winning streak).
— Nick Sweat, Class of 2006
On game days, he used to make us wear a collared shirt and a tie (to school); we didn't get to wear our jerseys. We had to wear nice slacks, dress socks and everything. We go out to practice after school for our walkthrough, and I didn't bring socks. So I come out to practice with a pair of argyles on.
Roanhaus says, "(Expletive), Hatley, what did you do? Sit in the corner this morning and let your mother shoot your (expletive) clothes on you with a slingshot?"
— Deke Hatley, Class of 1990
One time, in my junior year, Hank Baskett is throwing passes and we're running routes. Scott Tweedy throws a ball back to Abron Briseno, who's snapping to Hank. Scott (who later played college baseball) just rifled it. He overthrows Abron and hits Coach Roanhaus right in the face with the ball. Right in the nose, broke his glasses. I'll never forget how livid Coach Roanhaus was. You can imagine the profanity that's coming from him.
He yelled, and asked who threw that ball. We all instantly pointed at that spot, where Scott was. I remember that like it was yesterday.
— Nathan Nuttall, Class of 2002
I've been around Coach Roanhaus since 1978, actually knew him before that. I've never been around anyone as organized and as thorough when it comes to breaking down film and being prepared. He's probably, of all the people I know, the most competitive person I've ever been around. You always felt like he would do whatever he needed to do, whether it was in football, as a teacher, as a friend.
Whenever he talked about Bruce Scroggins at Bruce's funeral, nobody could have done a better job than that. I think a lot of people only see the rough side, but it's tough love. He's really a caring, compassionate person that cares about his players and his coaches and his family.
— Dale Fullerton, Bovina superintendent, former CHS defensive coordinator
At the seeding meeting (November 2011), he walked in and I said, "Boy, am I glad that you showed up so I'm not the oldest person in the room."
He replied, "That's true, and I'm glad you're here so I don't have to be the dumbest."
Not a day goes by that I don't think about something he has done or said that makes a difference in how I do things. The things I learned playing football at CHS weren't just about football, but about life. He doesn't stop coaching you when you are too old to play either. He still is coaching all of us, still committed to all of us whether we just got through playing, or if it was 35 years ago.
— Tommy Standefer, Class of 1982, head coach at Alamogordo
He had so many things he would tell us. He would always tell me I was so dumb, I could lose a one-man rock fight.
— Diondre Hunter, Class of 2008
In 1998, they fired our head basketball coach. I was the JV coach, and Coach Kelley was sophomore coach. I became the varsity coach. We needed another body out there, so Eric was our sit-in. At the end of a JV game, he would finish a game for me and I'd go in with the varsity kids.
During the varsity games, he sat on the bench with us. We were playing Goddard in a district game. It's a timeout in a close game. Eric grabs me and pulls me to the side and tells me, "We need to do this, we need to do this."
Really, I didn't do anything he said. He never said anything about it, and we ended up winning. In the locker room, he said, "Hank, I know you want to win." Then I talked about why I did what I did.
I just knew how much he cared about our kids. Obviously, he's a football coach with a record, but if they wear purple, he wants them to be successful. You will never see Eric do something that he doesn't think is in the best interest of the kids.
Everyone sees the football side, but they don't see that side. He'll ask you if you're going to do something, and he'll tell you if it's not good for the kids.
— Mike Hankins, Clovis High cross country/girl's track coach
I was at the Chaparral Country Club about to play, and these two guys yelled at me and told me to catch up to the two old people on the tee.
I walked up and couldn't believe my eyes. My two favorite tormentors — Coach Roanhaus and Coach (Randy) Adrian — were about to tee off at No. 1
They had a skins game going, and I ended up beating both of them at the end. It was the best win I ever had on a golf course.
That man doesn't forget a mistake you ever made playing for him. Throughout the round, he tried to get into my head by reminding me about a play at Santa Fe where I went the wrong way and our quarterback pitched the ball to nobody.
One thing about what type of a coach/person he is, is that he will play you, regardless of your colors or who your parents are, as long as you earned the right to play the position.
— Vorada Silivongxay, Class of 1989
It was my junior year, and I was doing quarterback film study with Josh Potocki and Matt Southard.
Coach Roanhaus asked Potocki, "What coverage are they in?" Potocki said, "Cover 3," and Roanhaus said, "No, (expletive)."
He asked me, "What coverage are they in?" I said, "Cover 2," and Roanhaus said, "No, (expletive)."
He asked Southard, "What coverage are they in?" Southard said, "Cover 1."
Coach Roanhaus just said, "Potocki, we could tear your head open and find nothing but (girls). Brewer, we could tear your head open and find nothing but golf balls. Southard, we could tear your head open and find … nothing."
— Kyler Brewer-Hill, Class of 2010
I'd gone to a Texas Tech quarterback camp one summer before we went to a 7-on-7 tournament in Los Lunas. I threw an interception during one of our games.
We're playing on the main field. All the Clovis parents are watching. All the Los Lunas parents are watching.
He's got his cards with all the plays on them. He throws them all up in the air, and says it loud enough for everybody to hear that I should call Texas Tech and get my money back, because they didn't teach me anything.
— Devin Sweet, Class of 2006
We were officiating a basketball tournament in Las Cruces, and we run into (Hobbs boys coach) Mike Smith, who was coaching in Las Cruces at the time. When Eric comes up to Smith, he tosses him his cell phone. Mike catches it and says, "What's this for?"
Eric says, "That's the only call you're getting all night."
— Lance Langan, Class of 1985
— Matt Heard, Class of 2011