Semi-pro football league interested in Clovis

Kevin Wilson

The first football game of 2011 at Leon Williams Stadium may have a February kickoff.

That’s the intention of the New Mexico Premier League, which is optimistic it could add the Curry County Cats to its ranks.

“It is 100 percent, guaranteed, it’s going to happen,” said Mike Thomas, a former Clovis Wildcat who spearheaded the effort to bring a semi-pro game to Leon Williams Stadium this summer. “The one thing we were worried about was a stadium.”

Brian Stacy, the athletic director at Clovis High School, said he first received a request to use the artificial-surface field on Monday.

“We had talked about it a little bit when they came and did their one game here. It didn’t catch me blindsided. I think it’s a great venue. I think it’s a good thing. I think it would be great for Clovis to see some of this.”

The league would play on Saturday nights from February to July, Thomas said — a time, Stacy said, when the stadium doesn’t have any scheduling conflicts.

There are reasons for optimism in Clovis, Thomas said, based on the game held June 19. Despite a weekend full of other well-established activities and only about a week of promotion, the game drew an audience of about 600.

Stacy said another benefit is a local foundation, with Thomas’ time at CHS and Marshall Middle School, and coach Mike Muscato would be the Cats’ general manager.

“That’s why I hope something like this will work,” Stacy said. “Central office will have the final say (on allowing stadium usage), and I have to talk with them, but I support it and I think this will work.”

Stacy said he would intend to have the school run the concession stand and keep the profits, but other details like ticket prices still have to be worked out.

The league, with Clovis, would have about 18 teams, Thomas said, and 45-man rosters. In the first season, Thomas said, players would not be paid, but it would be a goal the following season should the league turn a profit.

Muscato said there will be a tryout Oct. 24, with 9 a.m. registration and tryouts from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. — but it could go longer or shorter depending on who shows up.

“It will kind of depend on the athletes we’ve got,” Muscato said. “The offense could vary a lot. We could do a lot of run or a lot of spread offense.”