Say what you will about Eric Roanhaus — and football fans around the region have said plenty in his 33 seasons as Clovis High School’s head coach — but don’t forget to call him a winner.
The Wildcats’ fiery leader is on the verge of becoming just the third varsity coach in New Mexico high school football history to win 300 games. Only Jim Bradley (310) and Bill Gentry (305), both retired, have more career wins than Roanhaus’ 299.
His Clovis Wildcats coaching career began in 1973 under Dunny Goode, another local legend who handed the head-coaching reins to Roanhaus when Goode moved on to Eastern New Mexico University in 1978.
Since then Roanhaus’ teams have won 73
percent of their 407 games, including 10 state championships. Clovis teams have appeared in the state playoffs 28 times under Roanhaus.
His standout personal honors include: National High School Football Coach of the Year, Panhandle Sports Hall of Fame Football Coach of the Year, and New Mexico High School Coaches Association Hall of Honor inductee.
When NMHSCA honored him in 1992, he attributed his teams’ successes to others — his dedicated assistant coaches and the athletes who were willing to “pay the price” to be successful.
“I have been blessed,” Roanhaus said.
So have they. Anyone who’s spent any time around Clovis High School football these past four decades knows Roanhaus deserves much of the credit.
His coaching competitors marvel at his imaginative play calling and creative abilities to match his teams’ strengths against the weaknesses of his opponents. The foundation for his success, as many former players attest, comes from Roanhaus teaching and preaching hard work and fundamentals. And it is built upon his uncompromising demand for discipline.
“He said to always work hard,” former Wildcat and Texas Tech defensive back Joe Garcia told a CNJ reporter in 2006. “(Roanhaus said) never let another person outwork you. If they are going to beat you, let it be about talent, not because they outworked you.”
Yes, we know Roanhaus has not always been so inspirational. After all, he is not your garden-variety, politically correct statesman. Nor is his direct nature always appreciated. But it is clear that Roanhaus’ dedication to his players will be his legacy far longer than most people will recall how many wins he ends up with.
For that focus and commitment, Coach Eric Roanhaus, many congratulations. Your 33 years spent in building, shaping and maintaining a character-laden football program is highly respected across New Mexico, the region and the nation.