RAMBLIN’ RICK COLUMN: Area in football drought

Now that the drought that clutched the High Plains for several years appears to be lessening, it’s time to talk about another dry spell.

It’s been three years since a team in the newspaper’s coverage area has won a state football title. The last time area teams went back-to-back-to-back years without a title, the Vietnam War was ending and a Georgia peanut farmer was in his first year as president.

No area teams have even reached a state title game in the last two years.

Since 1977, when Eric Roanhaus was still a year away from taking over as head coach of the Clovis Wildcats, to 2010, area teams won at least one state title in 27 of those 33 years, including five in 2008 and three in 2010.

The odds are the drought won’t end this season as  Fort Sumner at No. 3 among seven Class 2A teams and Texico at No. 8 in Class 3A are the highest ranked area teams, according to the Freeman Computer Rankings on Maxpreps.

It could be just an anomaly, but there are troubling signs.

• Clovis built its dynasty under Roanhaus on toughness and playing mistake-free football. But that’s not enough any more as the Wildcats lack the depth to consistently compete with the upper-echelon teams.

On many nights, the Wildcats may have three of the 10 best players on the field. The ratio gets worse the deeper into the roster you dig, while teams such as Cleveland, Manzano and Mayfield seemed to mass-produce rangy wide receivers and coke-machine-shaped defense tackles.

Clovis has won 12 titles since 1973.

• Declining enrollment has eroded the small-school powerhouse Mario Martinez built at Fort Sumner starting in the mid-90s. The Foxes won 10 titles from 1995 to 2010.

There was even talk recently about Fort Sumner and Melrose forming a co-op team.

• Texico routinely fields top-notch teams, but doesn’t seem to produce the game-breakers needed to separate itself from the pack.

The Wolverines have collected six titles spanning from 1983 to 2008.

• At six-man and eight-man schools, it’s hard to stay on top because of the disparity in class sizes and talent year to year.

Melrose has won eight titles, including finishing as co-champs with El Rito in Class C in 1950, the first year the New Mexico Activities Association recognized football champions.

The good news is the current drought is a blip compared to a Dust-Bowl-like dry spell from 1950 to 1972 during which area teams accounted for four titles.

CNJ managing editor Rick White loves to be proved wrong. Contact him at:
rwhite@cnjonline.com