Friday, December 30, 2011

Holiday Tournament: Eagles snag big win, face Lawton in final

Kimberly Ryan/News-Sun
Hobbs' Austin Montoya battles Volcano Vista's
Sam Haywood for a rebound during Hobbs' win
Thursday at Tasker Arena.
  Heading into Thursday night's Hobbs Holiday Tournament semifinal game against No. 8 Volcano Vista, the 10th-ranked Hobbs boys basketball team hadn't gotten a quality win on its resume despite an 8-3 mark (maybe the Oñate victory) as the Eagles hadn't defeated a team with a record above .500.
  After Thursday's game, the same can't be said.
  Hobbs used its pressure full-court defense to force Volcano Vista into 25 turnovers as the Eagles pulled away for a 75-52 win over the Hawks (who entered the game 5-4).
  I'll be honest, I didn't expect this. I thought it'd be a close battle. But for Hobbs to lead the majority of the game and win by 23 points is a feather in the cap of the Eagles.
  Point guard Austin Montoya, a very underrated player for Hobbs, scored a team-high 21 points and came up big as Volcano Vista swarmed both Aaron Ibarra (though he still had 15 points) and Dane Pannell (he had 14) for much of the night.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Important stretch for Eagles begins

Hobbs' Andrew Barrientes defends against El Paso Bowie earlier this season.
  I know the Hobbs boys basketball team’s schedule said the season began in mid-November, but the Eagles’ season really gets underway at the Hobbs Holiday Tournament when they take on Dumas 7:45 p.m. Wednesday at Tasker Arena.
  Every year the Holiday Tournament is the kick start to a final nine-week stretch that will determine the fate of the Eagles’ season and it won’t be any different this year.
  While Hobbs is off to a 7-3 start and the first 10 games has helped the Eagles find themselves under first-year coach Mike Smith, they still have plenty to prove.
  With only one game under its belt against a New Mexico opponent (beating Oñate at home on Dec. 17), Hobbs’ playoff resume is still slim as it hasn’t defeated a team with a record over .500 on the season.
  But Hobbs has a chance to bolster it with 10 of its next 15 games against New Mexico opponents (and possibly 11 if the Eagles face Volcano Vista during the Holiday Tournament this week).

Friday, December 23, 2011

Taylor, Tate, Thompson going strong at the college level

Photo courtesy of Seattle University Athletics
Hobbs graduate and Seattle University junior Allen Tate goes up for a shot.
  I really mean to do this more and I think I'll make it a regular thing with my blog, but I like to try and keep up with how former Eagle basketball players (and any Lea County athletes in general, for that matter) are doing at the college ranks.
  There are three players off of the Eagles' 2008 state championship team still going strong at the college level – Jeffery Taylor (Vanderbilt), Allen Tate (Seattle University) and Juhreece Thompson (Trinidad State Junior College).

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Off to 7-3 start, Eagles still with room to grow in 2011-12 season

Darrell Patterson/News-Sun
Hobbs' Dane Pannell grabs one of his team-high 18 rebounds to go along 
with 22 points during a 74-67 win over Oñate Saturday at Tasker Arena. 
  With Monday's game against Amarillo High in Amarillo canceled due to inclement weather, the Hobbs boys basketball team is now on its short winter break before hitting the court again Dec. 28 for the Hobbs Holiday Tournament (here is the bracket).
  So 10 games into the season, the Eagles sit at 7-3 and ranked 10th in the latest New Mexico High School Coaches Association poll (link to poll).
  The Eagles are coming off their best win of the season with a 74-67 win over defending 5A champ, but unranked, Oñate on Saturday (Hobbs still hasn't beaten a team over .500 on the season).
  But Hobbs appears to be far from hitting its ceiling this season when it comes to quality of play.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Monday's Hobbs game in Amarillo canceled due to blizzard warning

  I just received word the Hobbs boys basketball team's game against Amarillo High on Monday in Amarillo has been canceled to due to a blizzard warning for the Amarillo area.
  Here is a link to a story on the blizzard warning.
  I don't see Hobbs (7-3 after Saturday's 74-67 win over Oñate) making up this game in the next week so the Eagles' next contest will likely be the first round of the Hobbs Holiday Tournament on Dec. 28 at 7:45 p.m. against Dumas, Texas. Here is a link to the Hobbs Holiday Tournament bracket.

Gleghorn a great fit for Hobbs


  With the holiday season here, what do you get that special high school football program in your life that already has top-notch facilities and equipment, a huge student body to choose from and a community eager for a winner after nearly 30 years of state playoff ineptitude?
  How about a spread-offense, quick-tempo loving, state-title winning coach who has ties to the area, has won everywhere he’s been and gets players out for football in droves with his player-friendly system?
  That’s what the Hobbs administration gave its football program Thursday when it hired Charles Gleghorn.
  The former Mesilla Valley Christian coach who is coming off a Class 1A state title this season in just the program’s third year of existence to go along with three Class 2A state titles with Hatch Valley (2003-05) fits perfectly for what Hobbs needed in my eyes to turn the program around.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

BREAKING NEWS: Gleghorn new Hobbs football coach

Submitted Photo
Charles Gleghorn, left, accepts a medal after Mesilla Valley Christian won
the Class 1A state championship this season.
  Hobbs announced Thursday that former Mesilla Valley Christian head coach Charles Gleghorn is the new Hobbs head football coach.
  Gleghorn, a Lovington graduate, is 90-34 and has four state titles in 11 seasons as a head coach, including leading Mesilla Valley to the Class 1A state championship this season in just the program's third year.
  Gleghorn, 41, now has the job of turning around a Hobbs program that has lost 14 of its last 17 games, has one playoff victory since 1982, hasn't won an outright district title since 1974 and hasn't won a state title since 1972.
  Gleghorn will start at Hobbs at the beginning of the new semester in January and said he'll begin to implement his pass-heavy spread offense that has set several state passing records right away.
  Read my story on Gleghorn being hired by Hobbs to find out his thoughts on taking over the position, how he'll implement his system and his expectations for next season in Friday's edition of the News-Sun at hobbsnews.com.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Eagles struggle to score in loss to Permian, help is on the way

Clayton Jones/News-Sun
Hobbs' Andrew Barrientes looks to pass Tuesday 
during the Eagles' loss at Odessa Permian.
  One thing was clear during Hobbs' 65-42 loss to Odessa Permian on Friday in Odessa – the Eagles need to get some help back if they want to be successful against good teams.
  Hobbs struggled to get anything going against a Permian team, while talented, that probably isn't 23 points better than the Eagles. Aaron Ibarra was the only Eagle to score more than five points as he led the team with 22 points and eight rebounds. Nobody else was really looking for their shot or being aggressive, leading to the Eagles' lowest scoring output since Jan. 10, 2006, when Hobbs lost to Gadsden 43-41.
  But help is on the way for the Eagles.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ibarra explodes, Eagles show resiliency to split El Paso road trip

Clayton Jones/News-Sun
Aaron Ibarra scores two of his 39 points during Hobbs' 
78-67 win Saturday at El Paso Chapin High School.
  The Hobbs boys basketball team showed plenty of resiliency during a 78-67 win Saturday at El Paso Chapin – a day after getting thumped by El Paso Bowie by 21 points in a game that wasn't close from midway through the second quarter on.
  Again playing without junior Dane Pannell (out due to injury - not sure when he'll return), the Eagles were facing a Chapin team that had more size and athleticism – somewhat similar to the Bowie team it faced the night before.
  But instead of being passive and settling for jump shots, the smaller Eagles attacked the basket – particularly senior Aaron Ibarra. The increased aggressiveness led to more trips to the free-throw line and more points in the paint.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

BREAKING NEWS: Hobbs football coaching candidates released

  I've received the list of the Hobbs football head coaching candidates. These applicants will interview either Monday or Tuesday.
  I'll have a story in Sunday's edition of the Hobbs News-Sun with more detail.
  In alphabetical order, they are:
  – Speedy Faith, defensive coordinator at Roswell High (former Lovington head coach)
  – Charles Gleghorn, head coach at Mesilla Valley Christian (Lovington grad)
  – Heath Ridenour, offensive coordinator at Cleveland High School (Lovington grad)
  – Ken Stevens, offensive coordinator at Carlsbad High School
  – Victor Tarin, offensive coordinator at Lovington High School

Thursday, December 8, 2011

54th Annual Hobbs Holiday Tournament bracket released

  One of the best sporting events that occurs in Lea County is set as Hobbs released the bracket for the 54th Annual Hobbs Holiday Tournament today.
  Here is the link for the Hobbs Holiday Tournament bracket, which takes place Dec. 28-30.
  The Eagles open up with Dumas, Texas, and will then either play Odessa High or Volcano Vista. Remember, the Eagles play at 7:45 p.m. each night of the tournament.
  As for this weekend's game, Hobbs should get plenty out of a two-game road trip to El Paso. Bowie (7 p.m. Friday) and Chapin (noon Saturday) are both hovering around .500 for the season but have played tough teams close. Hobbs junior Dane Pannell is expected to give it a go after missing Tuesday's 79-45 victory over Midland Lee with a swollen knee. Hobbs coach Mike Smith said they will be monitoring it closely and if Pannell shows any discomfort with it, Pannell will sit out the games this weekend.
  Read my preview of the Eagles' games in El Paso in Friday's edition of the News-Sun at hobbsnews.com.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Eagles' El Paso road trip tweaked

  The Hobbs boys basketball team's road trip to El Paso for Friday and Saturday has been tweaked some.
  Instead of playing El Paso Chapin this Friday at 7 p.m., the Eagles will play at El Paso Bowie (same game time).
  Another change is Hobbs' Saturday contest against El Paso Chapin has been moved back from 5 p.m. to noon.
  As far as I know, Hobbs' contest against Midland Lee 7 p.m. Tuesday at Tasker Arena is still on. I will post an update if I hear it or the Hobbs girls game against Lubbock Coronado for 5:30 p.m. is canceled.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Eagles get back to winning ways, Lady Eagles make statement

Clayton Jones/News-Sun
Hobbs' Dane Pannell drives against Horizon.
  A weekend trip to El Paso saw the Hobbs boys basketball team lose its first game of the season to a very good Faith Christian team with a checkered past Thursday (read this blog post for info on that), but the Eagles bounced back and beat El Paso Horizon 92-43 Friday (could've put well over 100 on them) and Clint 72-56 Saturday in a game that was closer than expected (though the Eagles played without starting point guard Austin Montoya who was taking his SAT or ACT, I don't remember which one).
  These road trips are always good when you can pick up wins, bond as a team and learn to win on the road away from Tasker Arena (as I've been told by Hobbs alumni, championships are won on the road in New Mexico). The Eagles (4-1 overall) accomplished that. Was it always pretty? No. But if Hobbs is still winning games (and significantly – the Eagles are winning by an average of 24.8 points per game) and there are still things to improve, that's a positive sign.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

'Cats, coaching staff prove plenty with third straight state title

Brad Cox/News-Sun
Lovington heads onto the field prior to its Class 3A state championship 
game against St. Michael's Saturday in Santa Fe.
  I'll be honest. I wasn't sure how Lovington was going to do this season. Losing 20 seniors, including all-everything quarterback Jacob Jameson, I thought it may be too much for the Wildcats to overcome.
  Even when playoff time came around and I did my predictions, I thought they'd make it to the finals but fall to top-seeded St. Michael's.
  I should've known better.
  Lovington rallied from a 10-0 deficit and went on to beat St. Michael's 14-10 Saturday up in the frigid weather of Santa Fe to claim its third-consecutive state championship.
  What impressed me about this state title is the Wildcats did it the complete opposite way they have the last two seasons.

Friday, December 2, 2011

First loss for Eagles should motivate

Clayton Jones/News-Sun
Hobbs' Austin Montoya takes a shot during Eagles'
loss to Faith Christian on Thursday in El Paso.
  EL PASO — It was ugly from the get go as a very talented Faith Christian Academy squad out of El Paso jumped out to a 20-4 lead after the first quarter over Hobbs and cruised to an 87-51 victory Thursday at the Canutillo Tournament in El Paso.
  Before I get to the game, this Faith Christian squad (ranked fourth in the El Paso Times rankings, though I doubt there are three teams better than them) Hobbs lost to has an interesting story behind it. Last year El Paso El Dorado had to forfeit games from the 2009-10 season when it was determined four players were recruited from Mexico to play for the team and those players were kicked off the team and suspended for three years by the University Interscholastic League (read link here to story).
  Faith Christian (who plays in the small Texas Christian Athletic League - only 54 members with most being very small schools) just happens to have four players who used to play for El Dorado on their roster (I won't say which ones because really it's not my place to put them out there, but it wasn't hard for me to figure it out with a little internet research).

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Eagles win home opener against Midland High, foul issues continue

Brad Cox/News-Sun
Hobbs' Terrell Wright goes for a steal against Midland
High during the Eagles' win Tuesday at Tasker Arena.
  On what was likely a nerve-racking day for Hobbs players and first-year coach Mike Smith, the Eagles won their home opener over Midland High 83-62 Tuesday in Smith's first game as head coach at Tasker Arena to move Hobbs to 2-0 on the young season.
  As many know, Tasker Arena is far from just any high school gym. Usually close to capacity each home game with plenty of traditions (baseline benches, Taskervitch Band, the Hobbs Mascots, etc.) and 16 state title banners hanging above the court to remind every opponent what they are walking into, Tasker Arena is one of the best places to watch high school basketball.
  With probably 2,500 fans in the stands Tuesday eager to see Hobbs' return to the full-court pressing style popularized by Ralph Tasker himself, I'm sure even the returning players had nerves in this first game. It didn't show for long as the Eagles built a 38-23 lead at the half thanks to a late run in the second quarter that caused Midland High players to gasp for air on the court as they were worn down by the never-ending pressure.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Defense is name of the game for 2011-12 Lady Eagle basketball

  We can talk all day about the interior and perimeter options the Hobbs girls basketball team has, but when it comes down to it, the Lady Eagles are going to be about defense this season – which showed in its home opening 61-49 win over Odessa Permian on Monday at Tasker Arena.
  Hobbs coach Johnny Casaus figured out his team wasn't going to be able to run with the athletic Lady Panthers as Hobbs held a slim 33-31 lead heading into the half. The up-tempo pace favored Permian, despite the deficit, as Hobbs had 18 first-half turnovers and struggled at times to even move the ball up court.
  In the second half Hobbs went to a half-court defense and it put cement in Permian's sneakers. At one point Hobbs held the Lady Panthers over 8 minutes without a point and over 12 minutes without a field goal in the second half while holding Permian to 18 second-half points.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

It just wasn't the Cardinals' day

Clayton Jones/News-Sun
Eunice's Tyler Almager runs the ball during the 2A state title game Saturday.
  Just as the players were about to shake hands at midfield after Eunice’s gut-wrenching 21-14 loss to defending champion Santa Rosa in the Class 2A state championship game, the Santa Rosa public address announcer got the crowd to start chanting, “Back-to-back! Back-to-back!”
  One Eunice player – already visibly frustrated – turned with his arms flexed and down to his side yelled, “This makes me so mad!”
  I don’t think it was so much the public address announcer’s actions or the chant that had this Eunice player upset as much as knowing the best team in Class 2A wasn’t walking with the blue championship trophy.

Seminole's season one to remember despite tough finish

Clayton Jones/News-Sun
Seminole's Jacob Burtch runs in for a touchdown Friday in San Angelo.
  The Seminole football team was huddled up on the turf at San Angelo Stadium on a drizzly Friday night with friends and family surrounding them. Tears were being shed as senior players and coaches addressed the team one last time during the 2011 season.
  The Indians' season had come to a close just minutes earlier when Seminole lost to undefeated Alvarado 42-7. It was a tough and shocking way for Seminole to be bounced from the playoffs, after all Seminole is the one that had put those kind of beatings on teams for the better part of two-plus months since getting starting quarterback Jacob Burtch back from a shoulder injury early in the season.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Predictions almost on point through second-to-last week of playoffs

Darrell Patterson/Hobbs News-Sun
A Eunice player makes a catching during the Cardinals' semifinal win Friday.
  I hope I don't hurt myself patting myself on the back, but in the second-to-last week of the football playoffs (except for 2A, which the championship is this week) I've correctly picked 12 of the 14 teams remaining in the New Mexico playoffs (see predictions here).
  Don't worry, I don't plan on praising myself too much as the two teams I missed was in the classification I covered this season – Class 5A.
  So lets see what is on tap for this week.
CLASS 2A
No. 1 Eunice @ No. 3 Santa Rosa, 1:30 p.m. Saturday
  Outlook: I predicted Eunice to go all the way, and I'm not wavering from that pick, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't concerned about the last two weeks. The Eunice offense that's torched everyone on the season hasn't looked the same in the playoffs (maybe except for the second half against No. 8 Tucumcari). Combine it with Santa Rosa's ground-pounding attack and it could be a recipe for trouble. Nonetheless, I'm sticking with the Cardinals because they do have the best quarterback at the small-school level in Tyler Almager, maybe the best wide receiver and defensive player at the small-school level in Junior Caraza, plenty of weapons around them and the experience of finding ways to win ballgames. Eunice wins in a thriller.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Quick hits: Lovington, Eunice, Seminole advance; Lady Eagles win

Clayton Jones/News-Sun
Lovington defensive back Nathan Lozoya tips a pass away as teammate
Justin Kim also defends during the Wildcats' win Saturday.
  As I lick my wounds after my Oregon Ducks fell to USC on a kick wide left Saturday night, the same can't be said for fans of teams around the Hobbs News-Sun's coverage area this week.
  In state playoff football action, Eunice advanced to the Class 2A championship game with a thrilling come-from-behind win, Lovington advanced to the Class 3A semifinals with a convincing victory and Seminole moved to the Texas Class 3A Division I quarterfinals after winning its region by thumping Lubbock Cooper.
  Add on to it the Hobbs boys and girls basketball teams winning their season openers and there wasn't much to be upset about in the area.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

So far, somewhat so good on predictions; N.M. playoffs continue

  Before I totaled up and checked out how I did on my predictions of the New Mexico state football playoffs, I thought I may have butchered my picks on the opening weekend. I knew my Carlsbad pick was blown when No. 9 La Cueva beat the No. 8 Cavemen, 17-7, in Class 5A.
  But once I did all the math, so far so good for me as 13 of the 16 teams I thought would move on did with losses by Carlsbad, Class 3A No. 9 Ruidoso (to No. 8 Albuquerque Academy) and my upset pick of Class 4A No. 11 St. Pius X (it lost to Farmington, the fifth seed).
  To refresh you on my pre-playoff predictions, read here.
  As for games to keep an eye on for this weekend, I'll go classification by classification.
8-Man/Class 1A
  First, two champions will be crowned this weekend when Melrose (who edged past Tatum in overtime) takes on Gateway Christian on Saturday in Roswell for the 8-man title and Fort Sumner (who slid past Jal) takes on Mesilla Valley Christian on Saturday at Gadsden High School in Anthony, N.M., for the 1A title. The Fort Sumner/Mesilla Valley game should be entertaining with a contrast of styles with Fort Sumner's ground-pounding attack taking on Mesilla Valley's let-it-fly approach.

Hobbs' Smith gets win in first game as coach, Eagles have room to grow

Clayton Jones/News-Sun
Hobbs coach Mike Smith picked up his first win
Tuesday against Midland Lee in Midland.
  It was far from pretty, but Hobbs first-year coach Mike Smith will take it knowing his Eagles have a long way to go still.
  The Eagles won 82-69 against Midland Lee Tuesday night at Midland Lee High School in their season opener despite 31 turnovers, foul issues and an inability to keep the Rebels off the glass.
  Smith – a Hobbs native – called it an ugly win after the game and added there are several things to correct between now and the Eagles' next game – their home opener Nov. 29 against Midland High.
  Hobbs struggled to take care of the ball against an athletic Lee squad that was also pressing for most of the game. Luckily for Hobbs, the Eagles' press forced the Rebels into 29 turnovers of their own.
  The big difference in the game was free-throw shooting as Hobbs went 30-for-39 from the charity stripe while Lee was 10-for-25.
  The Eagles also got themselves into foul trouble. Point guard Austin Montoya picked up four first-half fouls while Aaron Ibarra and Dane Pannell each had three at the break – three players that are expected to be Hobbs' top scorers this season. The score was tied at 37 and it appeared things may get rough for Hobbs.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Strengths, weaknesses shown at Hobbs scrimmage Saturday

Clayton Jones/News-Sun
Hobbs' Dane Pannell drives toward the basket 
during a scrimmage Saturday at Tasker Arena.
  The Hobbs boys basketball program couldn't have asked for two better programs to come to Tasker Arena and scrimmage the Eagles on Saturday.
  First there was Odessa Permian. The Panthers were long, athletic and ready to run (though it only scrimmaged with six players).
  Then there was El Paso Montwood. The Rams weren't very impressive athletically but were extremely disciplined and played at a methodical pace.
  The two extremes provided Hobbs a chance to see its own strengths and weaknesses as it heads into its season opener Tuesday at Midland Lee. Scores don't really matter in scrimmages. It's all about finding strengths, weaknesses, good rotations and so on.
  Against Odessa Permian it was quickly made apparent the Eagles are going to be tough to run up and down the court with. Not only did Hobbs easily outscore Permian, the Eagles forced the Panthers into numerous turnovers and were a nightmare for them – despite Permian having better athletes and more height. Hobbs' quickness and execution on the full-court press just overwhelmed Permian.

Quick hits: Tatum volleyball title, state playoff football

Kimberly Ryan/News-Sun
Eunice's Juan Zamora stretches out to try and make a catch Friday.
  I apologize for the delay in writing my latest blog. It was a busy weekend and trying to get everything stuffed in the newspaper was time consuming – and for good reason.
  A lot happened this weekend in Lea County athletics.
  – To start things off, I have to congratulate the Tatum volleyball team for winning its third straight Class 1A state volleyball title. The Lady Coyotes have proven throughout the season they're the best team in the classification (and probably in 2A and 3A as well) and showed it at state tournament time.
  Behind the hitting of Devanne Sours (still a junior) and Monica Ramirez, the presence at the net of Angela Rebolledo and the quick defensive play of twins Jessica and Sandy Ramirez, Karina Cardenas and Maria Mendoza – Tatum defeated Melrose in the state championship match in four games.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

High-flying, big-play Eunice football a must watch for this Friday night

Clayton Jones/News-Sun
Eunice's Avi Sanchez makes a catch during
Wednesday's practice in Eunice.
  Eunice's Tyler Almager put every ounce on the throw – a high, arcing spiral at least 60 yards down field.
  Avi Sanchez leaped high into the air for the ball, snagging it with both hands, corralling it into his stomach as he flopped onto his back with the pigskin still firmly in his grasp (see photo). The leaping catch led to the team letting out a loud cheer and a smile to Sanchez as he ran back to his teammates.
  It was just part of a crisp practice Wednesday for the top-seeded and undefeated Eunice football team as it prepared for its Class 2A state quarterfinal against No. 8 Tucumcari 7 p.m. Friday at Cardinal Stadium.
  I'm not going to go into the matchup between the two teams because that will be in my preview running in Friday's sports section of the Hobbs News-Sun.
  Instead, I'm going to let you know – and I'm talking to you Lea County – that Eunice will be the place to be this Friday – particularly for those football fans who haven't seen the Cardinals play this season.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dollar resigns at Hobbs

Clayton Jones/News-Sun Photo (unauthorized use prohibited without permission and credit)
Hobbs football coach Bruce Dollar resigned Tuesday morning.
  Hobbs football coach Bruce Dollar announced his resignation Tuesday morning effective immediately.
  Dollar went 10-22 in three seasons with Hobbs, leading the Eagles to their only playoff win since 1982. However, Hobbs has gone 3-14 over its last 17 games – spanning two seasons (Hobbs missed the playoffs both years).
  In short, Dollar told me either he was going to have to resign or was going to be asked to no longer coach the football program.
  Hobbs athletic director Greg Haston said the school was pleased with the early success, but feel like this is a good time to start fresh with a new coach.
  Read the complete story in Wednesday's edition of the Hobbs News-Sun at hobbsnews.com (it is a pay website).

Monday, November 7, 2011

Sun Sports Central Soothsaying (i.e. Playoff Predictions); Dollar situation


  Before I get to my predictions for the New Mexico prep football playoffs, I wanted to real quick address the Hobbs football coaching situation. I've was asked by some Monday if Hobbs coach Bruce Dollar is no longer the coach and that is false for the time being. I talked to Dollar as well as the Hobbs athletic department Monday and both said Dollar is still the coach.
  I wrote my thoughts about this Sunday (about midway through the post), and I'll keep everyone updated on the situation (if there is one).
  Back to my soothsaying. Man, that word is great. I didn't know what it meant until I was in college working as the sports editor at the University of Oregon's independent student newspaper, The Oregon Daily Emerald, and one of the sportswriters – a buddy we all called Dome (got to love college nicknames, we still call him this) – turned in a story with that in the headline (I had to look it up to see what it meant) and the word and I have never parted.
  Wow, I apologize for wasting your time with that nerdy journalism story. 
  Anyway, with the 2A-5A brackets released Sunday I thought I'd take a crack at predicting how this season's postseason will shake out.
CLASS 2A
Quarterfinals
No. 1 Eunice def. No. 8 Tucumcari
No. 4 Tularosa def. No. 5 Dulce 
No. 3 Santa Rosa def. No. 6 Loving
No. 2 Texico def. No. 7 Laguna-Acoma
Comments: That's right, going chalk to start my predictions. I think the top four in 2A are a cut above the rest.
Semifinals
No. 1 Eunice def. No. 4 Tularosa
No. 3 Santa Rosa def. No. 2 Texico
Finals
No. 1 Eunice def. No. 3 Santa Rosa
Comments: Eunice sports the best quarterback (Tyler Almager) and best all-around player (Junior Caraza) in the classification and combine it with big linemen, other solid skill position players and the thirst to put up another title on the Wall of Champions in Joe Langston Gym, I don't see the Cardinals being stopped. I know, may look like a homer pick but I do truly believe the Cardinals are the best team in 2A.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

NMAA releases volleyball seeds

  The NMAA released its seeds for the state volleyball tournament Sunday with four of the five Lea County schools being selected. Pool play for all the tournaments begin Thursday in the Albuquerque-metro area.
  In Class 3A, Lovington picked up the No. 8 seed and is in Pool A with No. 1 Pojoaque and No. 9 West Las Vegas. District-foe Portales picked up the No. 3 seed while Ruidoso got the 12th seed.
  In Class 2A, Eunice snagged the No. 11 seed and will play in Pool C with No. 3 Bosque and No. 6 Clayton.
  In Class 1A, two-time defending state champion Tatum to nobody's surprise got the top seed while Jal got the No. 8 seed and both play in Pool A along with No. 9 Hagerman.
  Here is a link to view all of the brackets: NMAA State Volleyball Brackets

Not-so-quick hits from Week 11 in Lea County Football

Clayton Jones/News-Sun
Jal's Saxxon Artalejo breaks free against Capitan on Saturday in Jal.
  While seedings came out for the larger schools and Hobbs got spanked, I have to start with the game I was at Saturday – Jal's 27-21 overtime win over Capitan in the Class 1A state quarterfinals.
  To back track, when two-a-days started in August I went out to Jal on the second day of workouts. There were 15 Panthers total out for football. That's it. In my mind I thought, "I don't care how good Saxxon Artalejo and Malik Anderson are, Jal may win only one or two games this season and will probably miss the playoffs."
  When the Panthers started the season 0-4, I thought my preseason thoughts were coming to fruition.
  But the funny thing about Jal was, it kept getting better and better.
  Four wins later, the Panthers went into their matchup with Class 1A powerhouse and top-ranked Fort Sumner at 4-4 heading into its last week of the season. Jal gave Fort Sumner a game, but couldn't get over the hump offensively, losing 24-8.
  Saturday the Panthers started the game against Capitan as that 0-4 team. Jal couldn't stop the Tigers' double-wing offense and couldn't move the football as Capitan took a 14-0 lead.
  But big players make big plays and Saxxon Artalejo hit Malik Anderson on a slant for that the speedy Anderson turned into a 70-yard touchdown to cut the lead in half.
  It was the start of the Panthers' resurgence as an improved defensive effort combined with quick striking drives for Jal – all four touchdown drives were three plays or less – led to Jal coming back for the win.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Eagle hoops Black & Gold Scrimmage fast-paced event

Kimberly Ryan/News-Sun
Hobbs' Aaron Ibarra goes in for a layup at the Black
and Gold Scrimmage Thursday at Tasker Arena.
  Hobbs grad and first-year Eagles coach Mike Smith said the team would return to the up-and-down, full-court pressing style of basketball and the Eagles did just that for a pair of 20-minute halves during the Black and Gold Scrimmage Thursday at Tasker Arena.
  Here are a few things I took away from the scrimmage:
  – Dane Pannell is good, very good: The 6-foot-3 junior who averaged 11.5 points per game as a sophomore (and closer to 16 points per game in the second half of the season) scored 29 points, second to Aaron Ibarra's 30 points.
  But more than that was the way he scored them (and despite getting cut just below his eye minutes into the game). Pannell hit jumpers, took his defender off the dribble, posted up and got a few putbacks. Hobbs fans are going to enjoy watching this young man evolve into one of the better players in the state (if he's not already there).
  – Aaron Ibarra is going to flourish in this style of ball: The tall, lanky Ibarra (6-foot-3 or maybe 6-foot-4) is perfectly suited for this trapping, full-court brand of basketball. His length is a nightmare for opponents and he can finish well in transition. Ibarra even showed off his range by hitting a 3-pointer in the scrimmage. He's probably going to have to rebound more than he's used to as the Eagles lack height, but Ibarra is poised to have a breakout senior season.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Hobbs boys hoops hard at work; preseason schedule

Clayton Jones/News-Sun
Hobbs senior Austin Montoya at practice Tuesday.
  I stepped through the doors at Tasker Arena Tuesday morning to find 20-plus athletes hustling, yelling, and screeching their sneakers across the gym floor.
  Yep, it's basketball season.
  The Hobbs boys basketball team was hard at work already as the Eagles have less than two weeks until their opener Nov. 15 at Midland Lee (at Midland College's Chap Center). The hour-and-a-half practice concentrated mostly on defense – both half and full court – with a lot of trapping.
  Talented junior Dane Pannell seems to have recovered fully after banging up his knee a little bit over the summer as he looked very good. Teaming him with senior point guard Austin Montoya and senior forward Aaron Ibarra and that is a solid three for Hobbs to build off of. Those three teamed up with Jesus Rodriguez (another point guard type) and Andrew Barrientes (a sniper from beyond the arc) during practice looked very fluid together.

Monday, October 31, 2011

NMJC hoops begin play this week; USW already underway

Clayton Jones/News-Sun
NMJC freshman Lorelle Waters grabs an alley-oop with
one hand for a dunk during practice.
  Hard to believe but basketball season is here for local college teams New Mexico Junior College and University of the Southwest.
  While the USW men and women got underway this past weekend at the Santa Claren Classic in Espanola (the Mustangs went 1-1 while the Lady Mustangs went 2-0), the NMJC women get underway Tuesday night when the Lady Thunderbirds host Cochise 5:45 p.m. at Caster Activity Center.
  The NMJC men's team gets its season underway Thursday during the first day of the Thunderbird Classic when the T-Birds host the University of the Southwest JV at 8 p.m. (the Lady T-Birds play Arizona Western College at 5 p.m. – check out the rest of the the T-Birds' and Lady T-Birds' schedule on their pages at go-thunderbirds.com).
  For NMJC, both teams are looking to get over tough near postseason misses in 2010-11. The T-Birds and Lady T-Birds both tied for the fourth and final spot but the NMJC men and women each lost the tiebreaker.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Jal, Tatum football both receive No. 4 seeds for state playoffs

  The Jal and Tatum football teams both received the fourth seed in their respective classes when the NMAA released the Class 1A and 8-man state playoff brackets Sunday.
  The Panthers (4-5) will play No. 5 Capitan (5-4) 1 p.m. Saturday in Jal in a Class 1A state playoff quarterfinal matchup while Tatum (7-3) will play No. 5 Logan (5-5) in Tatum on a date yet to be determined (will either by Friday night or Saturday afternoon) in an 8-man state playoff quarterfinal game.
  Here is a link to the brackets: NMAA State Football Brackets
  Jal and Capitan haven't played this season while Tatum defeated Logan 40-16 in the second week of the season.
  Read more about this in Tuesday's edition of the Hobbs News-Sun.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Eunice, Seminole, Jal cap regular seasons on solid note

News-Sun Photo
Eunice's Junior Caraza speeds down the field.
  A trio of area teams finished off their regular-season schedule Friday on a solid note as Eunice and Seminole capped stellar regular seasons with easy victories and Jal showed it can play with the big boys in Class 1A in a loss.
  Eunice capped its first perfect regular season since 1958 with a convincing 44-14 win over Dexter. The Cardinals led 30-0 at the half and cruised from there. It's the way championship-caliber teams win – come out, play hard and assert dominance from the opening whistle. Eunice's offense is now averaging 49 points a game this season while the defense has improved – allowing just 9.3 points per game in its last three contests.
  Eunice has a week off then finds out its seed for the Class 2A state playoffs on Nov. 5 (which will likely be the No. 1 seed).
  Seminole also capped its season with a convincing victory, a 52-6 beatdown of Fort Stockton at Wig Wam Stadium.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

What Friday means for Lea County football teams (and Seminole)

Clayton Jones/News-Sun
A Seminole player runs on the field against Andrews.
  In the second-to-last games for Hobbs and Lovington and the last game of the regular season for Eunice, Jal, Tatum and Seminole, there is plenty of meaning to tonight's football action.
  Hobbs: The Eagles need a win Friday at home against Clovis and next week against Carlsbad to claim their first outright district title since 1974 or their postseason chances are probably squashed. A loss will drop Hobbs to 2-7, and even if the Eagles beat Carlsbad the following week, it will be tough to put the Eagles in. Though if Hobbs doesn't get in if it loses to Clovis then beats Carlsbad, that would mean Carlsbad (which is a top 10 team in the state) can't get in because Hobbs would have finished above the Cavemen in the district standings and a team can't make the playoffs if a team above it in the district standings doesn't make it. Got that? It's going to be an uphill battle at Watson on Friday for Hobbs as Clovis is big, strong, fast and has defeated the Eagles 10 straight times.
  Lovington: A win tonight over Ruidoso and the Wildcats are district champs and likely get the top seed in the Class 3A playoffs. Like I said in my last blog, it's been amazing the way this team has changed its image from an offensive juggernaut to a defensive steel curtain in just a season. With Lovington's QB David Robles getting more comfortable, the Wildcats are just going to be tougher and tougher to beat as they improve offensively.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Lea County football teams' Week 9 state playoff projections

News-Sun Photo
Lovington's Justin Bromley
  With just two weeks left until the end of the New Mexico prep football season (one for Class 2A and below), it's time to see where the football teams from Lea County will likely be seeded for the state playoffs – if at all.
  Hobbs
  Record: 2-6 (0-0 district)
  Projection: Missing the cut in 5A (12 teams make playoffs)
  Outlook: The Eagles are in trouble unless they can win their two district games against Clovis (home this Friday) and Carlsbad (on the road next Friday) to claim their first outright district title since 1974 (Hobbs last shared the district title in 1982). Losses to Alamogordo and Lovington have squashed Hobbs' chances at an at-large berth. While anything is possible, Hobbs hasn't put together a strong game for four quarters all season and it's going to have to in each of the next two games if it wants to beat Clovis and Carlsbad.
  Lovington
  Record: 5-3 (1-0 district)
  Projection: Top seed in Class 3A (12 teams make playoffs)
  Outlook: Despite losing so much talent from a season ago, the Lovington football team just keeps on rolling behind defense and key special teams plays. Spanking Portales 37-7 in their district opener gives the top-ranked Wildcats a leg up on the top seed if they can take care of business Friday against Ruidoso. If Lovington wins there, they'll be the top seed no matter what happens in the final week of the season against Class 4A top-ranked Goddard. The two-time defending champ Wildcats have the look of a team that can possibly bring home its third straight title despite most people not being able to name one person on the team.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Special moment for Eunice student, Cardinals highlights

  It was senior night for the top-ranked Eunice football team last Friday and the Cardinals thumped NMMI 48-8.
  While the seniors who've helped the Cardinals to a perfect 8-0 start were honored, Eunice gave a student who would never get to sprint through the tunnel, through the smoke and down the victory line with pads and a Cardinals helmet on a chance to have that feeling.
  Michael Lanvost, a Eunice junior and dedicated supporter of his Cardinals, was helped out the tunnel by the Eunice captains and Eunice special education teacher Anita Owings down the victory line. While I wasn't at the game, just looking at the photos (which are in the opening minute of the video I've attached) it's hard not to get goose bumps and feel your heart swell as Michael beams from ear to ear as he walks through the tunnel and down the victory line in front of the Eunice faithful at Cardinal Stadium this warm October evening.
  Sometimes we all can lose perspective when it comes to our sports. This gesture by Eunice to one of its students reminds all of us just reaching out and doing something like this can make a memory forever for someone and their family – much more than any victory or defeat can.
  I applaud you, Eunice. Well played.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Hobbs boys, girls soccer seeded for state tournament

  While the Hobbs boys soccer team already had clinched a spot by winning district and the Hobbs girls had to wait to see if it was in, both the Eagles and the Lady Eagles were seeded in their respective Class 5A state tournaments when the NMAA released the brackets today.
  The District 4-5A champion Eagles were seeded No. 8 and will host Rio Rancho (likely Saturday) at Watson Stadium in the first round. The winner will face top-seeded Eldorado on Nov. 3.
  Here is a link to the Class 5A boys state tournament bracket: Class 5A Bracket
  As for the Lady Eagles, they had to patiently wait for the seedings to be released as Hobbs took second in the district to Carlsbad (who got a No. 6 seed and will host No. 11 Mayfield). After the wait, Hobbs got the No. 9 seed and will travel to play No. 8 Cibola (again, likely Saturday) in Albuquerque. The winner of this game will then face No. 1 Sandia.
  Here is a link to the girls state tournament brackets: NMAA State Girls Tournament Bracket
  Read more in Tuesday's sports section of the News-Sun on reaction from each coach on their state seeding.

Quick hits from Week 9 of prep football in Lea County and beyond

Brad Cox/News-Sun
Lovington's Cesar Treviso runs against Portales
on Friday in Blackwater Draw.
  Another week and more to learn about the prep football teams in the area. Here are some quick thoughts.
  – Lovington made a HUGE statement Friday. Pounding Portales 37-7 in Blackwater Draw told the rest of Class 3A that the two-time defending state champion and top-ranked Wildcats are for real.
  What I really enjoy about this team is it has been a complete makeover from the last two teams that won state titles. The Wildcats aren't going to put up 60-plus points like the team's guided by quarterback Jacob Jameson over the last few seasons. This team is going to win with defense. It says a lot about the coaching staff in Lovington for them to be able to adjust to their team's identity and personnel. A win this week against Ruidoso at home and the Wildcats once again will be district champs and will likely be a top seed in the Class 3A state playoffs.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Seminole football: The pieces for something special in West Texas

  As I stopped to grab a pop (or soda or Coke or whatever it's called out here) at a Seminole market before heading back to Hobbs after doing interviews following the Seminole football team's practice Thursday, two gentlemen started chatting about the team's game in Andrews on Friday as I waited in line.
  "Should be a good one tomorrow night," the older of the two men said.
  "Yep, we have some really good players at the varsity level. I really like that Burtch too," the other man said speaking about Seminole head coach Chris Burtch.
  "Me too," the older gentlemen said before I paid and left and stopped eavesdropping on the conversation.
  Spending an hour watching Seminole practice Thursday, I can see why those gentlemen like this team, the coaching staff and why the Indians are 7-1 with a chance to clinch a playoff berth tonight at the Mustang Bowl in Andrews.
  As is usual for most teams the day before a game, Seminole, which pounded a Monahans team last week 41-7 ranked in the Class 3A top 10 in one Texas high school publication, practiced with no pads but went through the hour workout with precision in the Indians' indoor facility. After spending time on defense, the real show began as the Indians went through their spread offense.
  I don't think Seminole, which is receiving votes in the AP Texas High School Class 3A poll, huddled or really stopped once as it went through a myriad of formations and passing plays. Quarterback Jacob Burtch (just a junior, see video highlights of his sophomore season) slung the ball around with precision to a slew of receivers, including the game-breaking Jarod Adams (who happens to be the cousin of former Hobbs running back P.J. Smith. I attached his highlight video from a year ago as well).

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Eagles, Lady Eagles soccer hold destiny in hands; need wins tonight

Clayton Jones/News-Sun
Hobbs' Dustin Wright takes a shot against Clovis on Oct. 8
  Destiny for a district title and an automatic state tournament berth still sits in the hands of the Hobbs boys and girls soccer teams as they both take on Carlsbad at 6 p.m. tonight (the Eagles play at home at Watson Stadium while the Lady Eagles travel to Carlsbad)
  While the Eagles and Lady Eagles are both 1-1 in district and trail their 3-0 competition (for the boys it's Clovis, for the girls it's Carlsbad), both teams would win their respective district titles if they win their final two games thanks to the tiebreaker rules.
  For the Hobbs boys, beating Carlsbad tonight and Clovis on Saturday would tie Clovis at 3-1 atop the district standings. The first tiebreaker is head-to-head and Hobbs and Clovis split so it would have to go to the next tiebreaker.
  The next tiebreaker would be head-to-head goal differential. Clovis beat Hobbs 3-2 on Oct. 8 and currently holds a +1 in differential. If Hobbs beats Clovis by at least two goals Saturday (taking into account it beat Carlsbad tonight) then the Eagles would be district champs.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Houston, Highland show Hobbs football heading in right direction

  Through call ins and word of mouth, I kept hearing a buzz about the two Hobbs eighth-grade football teams – Houston and Highland – doing well.
  Houston I know was off to a 5-1 start with its only loss being a close defeat to Artesia and Highland wasn't far behind.
Photos by Brad Cox/Hobbs News-Sun
  Trust me, I'm not one of those who thinks if a program does well at the junior high, freshman and junior varsity level it translates into instant success at the varsity level. That isn't necessarily the case because of numerous variables, ranging from kids not playing anymore to the varsity level being the biggest leap of all for prep student-athletes. Lets remember, these are just eighth graders. At the same time, experiencing success breeds a winning attitude – important for football programs.
  Since I'd heard so much about the teams, I decided to go check out the two playing each other Thursday evening in front of a full moon at Watson Stadium.
  I didn't have a notepad, recorder or anything (though News-Sun sportswriter Brad Cox was nice enough to shoot photos). I just wanted to enjoy the game and take it in (something I usually only get to do at my daughter's athletic events). Sometimes when trying to take notes, play-by-play, stats and photos you often miss little things in games.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Eunice's Almager leading News-Sun Offensive P.O.Y. race

  Well known in baseball circles, Eunice quarterback Tyler Almager has exploded onto the football scene in 2011 with an impressive first six games of the season and has emerged as a front runner for the 2011 News-Sun Lea County Offensive Player of the Year award in football.
  Almager, the 2011 News-Sun Lea County Baseball Player of the Year, is 85-for-147 for 1,914 yards, 23 touchdowns and four interceptions while leading the top-ranked Class 2A Cardinals to a 6-0 start. Almager is also the team's leading rusher with 901 yards and 14 touchdowns on 89 carries (10.1 yards per carry).
  Add a kickoff return for a touchdown and Almager has accounted for 38 touchdowns this season – an average of 6.3 per game.
  Almager is averaging an eye-popping 469.2 yards of offense per game (319.0 passing, 150.2 rushing) thanks to a solid offensive line and an athletic group of skill position players around him.
  For those who haven't seen Almager play, watch the video above. Almager reminds me some of the winner of the offensive player of the year award the last three seasons – Lovington's Jacob Jameson. While Almager's competition isn't quite what Jameson faced (Goddard, Artesia, Hobbs, Andrews, etc.), there are a lot of similarities between the two – mainly their ability to use both their legs and their arm. 
  Jameson finished last season with 3,624 yards and 60 touchdowns passing while rushing for 1,267 yards and 17 more scores. Almager is on pace for similar of numbers.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Quick thoughts from Lovington's triple OT win over Hobbs

Darrell Patterson/Hobbs News-Sun
A pair of Lovington players celebrate during the 
Wildcats' win over Hobbs on Friday in Hobbs.
  For an in-county game that went three overtimes, Lovington's 31-28 win over Hobbs was far from pleasing to the eye.
  There was 428 yards of offense combined (Hobbs 238, Lovington 190) as both teams showed they have flaws moving the ball.
  Hobbs was painfully one dimensional. With a sophomore quarterback making his first varsity start in Kolin Zembas (who looked pretty good all things considered), it was apparent Hobbs was going to keep the ball on the ground – nothing new for a Bruce Dollar coached team. But with the Eagles' only backfield threat being Aderiole Moore, the Wildcat defense loaded the box (sometimes with nine players) and started just rushing toward the senior running back as soon as the ball was snapped. In the second half Moore usually had a hand or two on him in the backfield before he could get moving, leading to 20 carries for just 49 yards in the second half after carving up Lovington for 100 yards on 12 carries in the first half.
  While the Hobbs offense stalled after two first-quarter touchdowns, it didn't turn the ball over until its last play on offense in triple overtime – a big improvement after 21 turnovers in the first six games.
  But key miscues cost Hobbs this game – touching a punt that Lovington recovered in the first quarter that led to a Wildcat field goal, a Lovington punt that was allowed to bounce and roll nearly 25 yards to the Hobbs 1 (leading to a safety) and missed tackles on David Robles' punt return for a touchdown. These are three plays that equal 11 of Lovington's 14 points in regulation.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Eagles, Wildcats set for Battle of Highway 18

Kimberly Ryan/Hobbs News-Sun
Hobbs' Aderiole Moore rushes against 
Alamogordo at Watson Stadium.
  As I sit down to write this less than 24 hours away from Hobbs and Lovington squaring off at Watson Stadium, I'm really not sure what to make of this contest.
  Heck, I don't even know what to call this game. I feel like it should have a name. I just made up Battle of Highway 18 ... which, to be honest, doesn't sound that great (maybe it does). Someone really does need to come up with a name. Maybe call it "The Roughneck Rumble" with the trophy being an oil derrick. I don't know, it just needs something.
  Anyway, back to the game. This game is a bit puzzling because I really don't know what to expect of Hobbs tonight. The Eagles are coming off a terribly disappointing 50-21 loss to Alamogordo – a team it was ahead of 14-3 and could've beat because there is no way the Tigers were 29 points better than the Eagles. Frustration boiled over and Hobbs, which may or may not be at full strength tonight, needs a win against Lovington to bounce back.
  Look for Hobbs to pound the ball on the ground with Aderiole Moore, who looked very good against Alamogordo – rushing for 169 yards and a score on 21 carries. That carries total may go above 30 tonight.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Eunice's Caraza a college talent waiting to be seized

  If you've never seen Eunice's Junior Caraza play football, it's a sight to be seen. In fact watch the video below.
  Listed at 5-foot-11, 175 pounds, Caraza is a wrecking ball on the gridiron – destroying nearly anything in his path as you saw on the video. He's a force as a defensive back, laying huge hits on opposing players, and is an explosive weapon at wide receiver and running back for the Cardinals.
  A great pure athlete, Caraza has won numerous state track championships, helped Eunice baseball to a state title in 2010 and a runner-up finish last season and was also the basketball team's leading scorer from a year ago.
  But it's the football field where he really shines with last week being arguably the best all-around game by a player in Lea County this season.
  During Eunice's 60-30 win over Tucumcari, Caraza had five receptions for 195 yards and two scores, ran the ball three times for 105 yards and made 12 tackles (one for a loss) and picked off two passes (returning one 88 yards).

Monday, October 3, 2011

Hobbs boys basketball schedule released for 2011-12

Clayton Jones/News-Sun



Hobbs' Dane Pannell against Eldorado
in Albuquerque last season.
  I got my hands on a copy of the Hobbs boys basketball schedule today and Eagle fans better take advantage of every home game as the Eagles – with first-year coach Mike Smith at the helm – will be on the road for 14 of their 26 games, unusual for a team that usually plays over half its games at Tasker Arena.
  The full schedule is at the bottom of this blog and is also available in Tuesday's sports section of the News-Sun (page 10) but I'll highlight some games of interest.
  — Nov. 15 @ Midland Lee: Eagles' season opener. I bet a few fans travel the relatively short drive to Midland to watch Smith's first game as head coach of Hobbs.
  — Nov. 29 vs. Midland High: Hobbs' home opener and first game for Smith at Tasker Arena as head coach. Probably will be a wild night.
  — Dec. 1-3 @ El Paso Canutillo Tournament: I'm not sure when Hobbs last played in a tournament not named the Hobbs Holiday Tournament or the state tournament, but this should be a good warm up for the Holiday Tournament.
  — Dec. 17 vs. Oñate: First New Mexico opponent (unless the Eagles play a New Mexico team at the Canutillo Tournament) and a chance to avenge two losses last season to the 2011 Class 5A state champs.
  — Dec. 28-30 Hobbs Holiday Tournament: Do I have to say anything more? Should be a blast as always. If you haven't been to this tournament, make a point to. While I'm not sure about all the teams attending, I was told Volcano Vista (who should be one of the better teams in Albuquerque) will be in attendance.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Quick hits from Week 6 in Lea County football

Kimberly Ryan/Hobbs News-Sun
Lovington quarterback David Robles rushes against
West Las Vegas on Friday at Wildcat Stadium.
  Week 6 of the prep football season is in the books and teams from Lea County either kept rolling, got back on track or had the wheels come off Friday evening.
  — At Watson Stadium at the game I was at, Hobbs just fell apart in the second half against Alamogordo in an important matchup for both. It started some in the second quarter after the Eagles built a 14-3 lead when a Hobbs punt was blocked, leading to a quick score and igniting a 33-point run for the Tigers.
  Hobbs trailed 17-14 heading into the third quarter when Alamogordo took advantage of five Eagle second-half turnovers (Hobbs finished with six in all) to put the game out of reach and eventually win 50-21.
  The Eagles' playoff chances probably rest on beating one (and most likely both) of their district opponents. The offense did look better with the return of Aderiole Moore (he finished with 169 yards on the ground) but Hobbs will need more than just him to step up if it wants to beat Lovington this week.
  Read more of my thoughts on Hobbs' loss to Alamogordo and where the Eagles are heading in my column in Sunday's sports section of the News-Sun.
  — Lovington got back on track with a much-needed victory over West Las Vegas 44-0 Friday at Wildcat Stadium.
  The Wildcats had lost their last two games, both Texas opponents, and for a team that is still trying to find its rhythm after losing so much from last season's state championship team, a win like Friday's goes a long way in building the confidence of the players – particularly the offense. Hobbs will be a good test for Lovington this week and it should be a battle.
  — In a game that featured first-year Eunice head coach Daniel Hutchins facing his former team Tucumcari, the Class 2A second-ranked Cardinals pounced on the fifth-ranked Rattlers for 30 first-quarter points on their way to a 60-30 win.
  Eunice continues to rack up big numbers on offense, averaging 50.5 points per game, and is 6-0 for the first time since its 2000 state championship team. Eunice travels to play Cloudcroft next week, looking to start 7-0 for the first time since 1958 when the Cardinals finished the season 10-0 and won the state title.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Make or break for Hobbs? Cleveland tops in state?

Hobbs' Austin Hand makes a tackle against Artesia.
  As I sat down to write my preview for tonight's Hobbs/Alamogordo football game, I realized more and more the team that comes up short tonight (both teams enter the game with a 2-3 mark) is going to have a long road ahead of it if it wants to get in the 12-team Class 5A playoffs.
  For Hobbs, a loss would drop the Eagles to 2-4 with a home game against Lovington (winnable) and a road matchup with Goddard (going to be tough). Say Hobbs splits those games, the Eagles are 3-5 heading into district play with Clovis at home (the Wildcats are down, but still Clovis) and hit the road to play Carlsbad (the Cavemen have been impressive this season with wins over Mayfield and Artesia already under their belt).
  In my eyes, Hobbs would have to win at least one of those games to have a chance to get in and even still at 4-6 wouldn't be guaranteed a spot.
  A win tonight, a win against either Lovington or Goddard and a win against either Clovis or Carlsbad (a district win will be key) and I think Hobbs definitely makes the playoffs.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

With Locksley gone, UNM needs to rebuild fans' trust

  To much of the surprise of nobody, the University of New Mexico cut loose football coach Mike Locksley on Sunday after two-plus seasons of misery for Lobos fans. Locksley went 2-26 during his tenure, including 0-4 this season after a loss to FCS opponent Sam Houston State on Saturday.
  While his on-the-field performance was poor at best, off the field was even worse. There was the suspension after punching a fellow coach, the verbal run-in with a student reporter, the sexual harassment suit and most recently Saturday when a man (supposedly a recruit) was arrested prior to the Lobos' game for suspicion of driving while intoxicated in a vehicle registered to Locksley's wife.
  While it will cost UNM $150,000 over each of the next two years, I bet it is worth it to Lobos fans to see him go.
  So, where does UNM go from here? 
  The most important objective UNM administration must accomplish is bringing fans and their support back to the program. The last two-plus years alienated many UNM football supporters as not only did Locksley lose, he also failed to recruit Division-I caliber, in-state talent (see Colorado 6-foot-5 wide receiver Tyler McCulloch from Eldorado in Albuquerque).

Friday, September 23, 2011

No time for Hobbs to dwell on brutal two-week stretch

Hobbs' Daniel Cornejo gets ready to tackle Cleveland's
Cole Gautsche on Friday in Rio Rancho.
  RIO RANCHO — There is no need to break down Hobbs' 54-0, mercy-rule loss to top-ranked Cleveland Friday night at Cleveland High School in Rio Rancho.
  The Storm were bigger, faster and stronger. Cleveland's defense was suffocating. For the second straight game, Hobbs couldn't get anything going offensively, gaining just 29 yards in the two quarters (the game ended on the third play of the third quarter when Cleveland scored to make it 54-0, forcing the 50-point mercy rule). This comes on the heels of Hobbs gaining just 80 yards during a 40-0 loss to second-ranked Las Cruces High last week.
  Hobbs coach Bruce Dollar said it best after the game if you're a Hobbs player or supporter. He told me while his team needs to learn from the mistakes of the last two games, his team can't dwell on the losses.
  Hobbs has run into two juggernauts – the two top teams in Class 5A (and arguably in the state, though Goddard may have something to say about that – a team Hobbs faces later this season). If the Eagles sulk and dwell on these last two contests, it can bite them in the rear during a winnable game this upcoming week against Alamogordo.
  A win next week against Alamogordo, which is also 2-3 on the season, would go a long way in helping the Eagles' playoff chances down the road.
  Yes, Hobbs can still make the playoffs – if it can shake off these losses, regroup and move forward starting at homecoming against the Tigers this Friday at Watson Stadium.