By Eric Butler
The 2004 Clovis football schedule will have a decidedly different look than in recent years, with Cibola and Sandia joining District 4-5A in place of Eldorado and Manzano.
Other changes include Amarillo Tascosa and former longtime district rival Roswell being dropped from the schedule at their requests and the addition of Rio Rancho.
Tascosa couldn’t guarantee it would be available, according to Clovis athletic director Dale Fullerton.
“Texas is realigning, so you never know what’s going to happen over there,” Fullerton said. “They could end up in an eight-team district and be unable to play us. Hopefully, we can pick up Tascosa or another Amarillo school once the realignment is done.”
Rio Rancho is coached by former Wildcats defensive back Phil Lopez, who said he is trying to upgrade the Rams’ schedule.
Lopez graduated from CHS in 1980 and coached at several schools in New Mexico and Texas before taking the Rams’ job this summer.
“It’s something I’d like to keep, as long as they’re interested. Hopefully, we’ll give them enough competition that they’ll want to keep us on the schedule,” said Lopez, who has led Rio Rancho to a 4-2 start. “We’re at a point, and it came a whole lot sooner than we expected, where we needed to beef the schedule up.”
The first game of the series next year will be at Leon Williams Stadium.
“It’ll be real awkward at first,” said Lopez of that first meeting. “But after opening kickoff, you get back into the game plan and mindset, and it’s just another football game.”
Dropping Roswell from the schedule will bring to an end one of New Mexico’s longest-running series.
In 2000, Roswell stayed at Class 4A when Clovis was moved up to the new 5A division.
Clovis has beaten Roswell by the combined score of 84-0 the last two seasons.
“I think they’re doing it for what’s best for their program. I’m not sure if that’s true, though — if you play better people, you get better,” Fullerton said.
“Of course, I can remember four years ago, they had (current University of New Mexico running back) DonTrell Moore. But they’ve fallen on hard times lately.”