Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Calm before storm - final week before prep football begins

  When the Gus Macker 3-on-3 Tournament arrives in Hobbs, as it did Saturday, it tells you two things.
  1. It’s likely going to be the hottest day of the year in the area – or at least feel that way as I was one of hundreds roasting on the frying-pan-like asphalt at New Mexico Junior College.
  2. The fall sports season is just around the corner.
  While the calendar says fall doesn’t begin until late September, the fall prep sports season starts Aug. 5 when football practice officially opens with the rest of the sports starting a week later.
  The summer always seems like a blur. It feels as if summer workouts, the Hobbs Nite League and other summer activities just began.
  All of that is over (or winding down) and there is just over a week until football teams in the area hit the field – starting at midnight on Aug. 5 with Lovington and Eunice’s annual midnight practices.

  It’s a week of anticipation I’d guess for the football players in Lea County. The athletes have spent the last two-plus months hitting the weight room, performing drills and playing 7-on-7 with shorts and T-shirts on.
  In a week they’ll be adding a helmet, and after the mandatory three days of practice without pads, full-contact workouts start.
  While there is still over 10 days before the sound of pads crunching against each other begins, it doesn’t mean we can’t think about some of the interesting questions that will be answered about each Lea County team in 2013.
  In Hobbs, people will want to know how the Eagles have progressed in Charles Gleghorn’s second year at the helm after going 2-8 last season. It’s no secret Hobbs is one of the toughest jobs in the state with the lack of success in the last three decades (one playoff win since 1982). Will the Eagles take a step forward and move closer to being a threat in the big school landscape of New Mexico?
  For Lovington, the question is how will the Wildcats respond after losing nearly 30 seniors from a team that made it to the Class 3A state semifinals in 2012 – ending a run of three consecutive state championships? Unlike Hobbs, Lovington has plenty of recent success (five state titles since 2001 and 18 overall – second behind Artesia in New Mexico history) so it will be interesting to see how the newcomers fill in for those who left.
  In Eunice, the Cardinals – like Hobbs – are in the second season with a new coach in Caleb Aldridge. Eunice was 4-6 in his first season, missing the playoffs as the team battled with turnover from its 2A state runner-up team in 2011. Will the Cardinals get back into the mix of things in 2A in 2013?
  As for Jal, new coach Fred Carter takes over a program that went 2-7 last season and missed the playoffs. Can the Panthers bounce back and make the postseason in Class 1A?
  And finally Tatum, can the Coyotes under Gary Durham continue the solid run they’ve been on in 8-man football over the last two seasons? Tatum made it to the state semifinals in 2011 and the state finals last season (losing to Gateway Christian in the title game). Can the Coyotes take it one more step and bring home the blue trophy?
  While the answers to those questions likely won’t be determined until November, there is only one week until those teams officially begin their drive toward making sure those questions are answered the way they want them to be.

(Editor's note: This column appeared in Sunday's edition of the Hobbs News-Sun. To get content like this and more on athletic teams in Lea County, get a hard copy or online subscription to the News-Sun by calling 575-393-2123.)