Kamal Cass already holds single-season Clovis High records for rushing yardage and touchdowns and, with another year left, he’s well within range of career marks.
Cass capped a stellar junior season on Thursday when he was named the 2013 Gatorade New Mexico high school football player of the year.
The 5-11, 165-pounder was a major reason the Wildcats, at 6-6, were able to reach the second round of the Class 5A playoffs. He finished the season with 2,580 yards rushing and 36 touchdowns, which included returning four punts for scores and two receiving TDs.
“I didn’t really expect it,” Cass said of the award. “It’s a good honor, although we wanted to get a state championship.”
Cass helped the Cats rebound from a 2-5 start with four consecutive wins before last week’s 70-40 loss at second-ranked Las Cruces High. In that game, he rushed 20 times for 123 yards and a 46-yard touchdown and caught three passes for 90 yards, including a 75-yard TD toss from quarterback Dakotah Yandell.
“What makes it so good is he deserves it, and his teammates deserve it,” longtime CHS coach Eric Roanhaus said. “Whatever he accomplishes, he always credits his offensive line and his blocking back. He’s a humble kid.”
Cass is the fourth CHS player to win the award in its 28-year history, joining running back-free safety Mike Thompson (1992), quarterback-defensive back Chet Pharies (1996) and free safety Joey Garcia (2003).
He rushed for about 700 yards and led the team in receiving as a sophomore, but really took off this season. He’s well within striking distance of CHS record-holder Brian Mead (2004-06) for career rushing yards (4,266) and touchdowns (53).
Last week’s loss was tough to take, Cass said.
“It was heartbreaking,” he said. “We’ve just got to work harder next year. We have the talent to do it.”
He maintains a B average in the classroom. He’s also acted as part of local performances of “Huck Finn” and “The Nutcracker,” serves as a junior deacon in his church and has volunteered at a local homeless shelter and as a youth football coach.
Roanhaus said Cass’ versatility will help at the next level and he foresees a productive college career for him, possibly as a slot receiver.
“He can do a lot of things when he gets to the college level,” Roanhaus said. “He’s excellent in the kickoff and punt return game. He carried it so much for us this year because Dakotah was hurt in our (preseason) scrimmage and missed our first six games, so we couldn’t do what we wanted in the passing game.”
Cass, who recognizes he’ll have to put on a few pounds and add some strength at the next level, but he hopes to keep playing for as long as he can.
“I want to play D-I (major college football); that’s my dream,” he said, “and hopefully, go on to the NFL.”