By Jason Brooks: CNJ correspondent
CLOUDCROFT — After the Texico Wolverines had finished their 35-7 pounding of host Cloudcroft in Saturday’s Class A state championship game, the players were busy passing around the team’s second straight blue trophy.
“That’s traveling to my house tonight,” coach Mike Prokop reminded everyone. “But these kids have all earned it. They all bought into the program we’re teaching them.”
The Wolverines dominated the smaller, less experienced Bears playing in their first state title game since 1987. Texico’s edge in total yardage was 402 to 171, but the advantage seemed even more slanted than the numbers.
“We’re a run first, pass second kind of team,” said senior quarterback Braden Vaughan, whose team ran the ball 55 times for 261 yards. “Their defensive line came off the ball really hard early on.”
The Bears (10-2) scored on the game’s first play from scrimmage on a bomb from quarterback Logan Capps to receiver Brent Wells. But the Texico defense settled down and held the Bears to 5 of 33 passing with four interceptions, plus only 56 yards rushing.
The Wolverines took nearly a quarter and a half to get on the scoreboard themselves, as an aggressive Cloudcroft defense held the Wolverines (12-0) in check. Chris Phillips’ 6-yard run on fourth-and-goal tied the game at 7, and a 4-yard sneak by Vaughan just before the half gave Texico a 14-7 lead at intermission.
Midway through the third quarter, Vaughan tried another sneak from just a yard out. Stretching the ball out, the ball was knocked right into the arms of Texico running back Johnny Serrano, who scored from the 5 to make it 21-7.
A 23-yard lob pass to Tony Clements from Vaughan and a 5-yard scamper from Blake Smith merely put the game even more out of reach in favor of the visitors.
Serrano, a force for the Wolverines all season, carried the ball 25 times for 109 yards in the game.
“We knew they were real talented going in,” said second-year Cloudcroft coach Terry Welch. “Hats off to ‘em.”
The Wolverines have now won 24 straight games dating back to 2002. Texico is 35-1 in the last three seasons.
“When you play someone at their house, you know they’re gonna be fired up,” said Prokop of the surprising start. “Whenever we’re in trouble, we start giving the ball to Johnny.”