Last Update: Friday, Nov. 25, 2016
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Friday, Nov. 25 2016


Las Cruces dominates Cleveland, 45-7


So much for an all-city state high school football championship game.

Las Cruces High dominated Cleveland in every way Friday night, whipping the Storm 45-7 to advance to the Class 6A title game next Saturday.

Rio Rancho could still host the championship game for the third straight year if the Rams beat Manzano. That game is at 1 p.m. Saturday.

While it was the dream of many for the two City of Vision schools to meet for the first-place blue trophy, somebody forgot to tell the Bulldawgs. Las Cruces built a 38-0 halftime lead and never looked back in eliminating the defending state champions and avenging a 49-41 loss to Cleveland in the third week of the season.


Friday, Nov. 18, 2016

A GOOD START: Cleveland wide receiver Justin Ainsworth (9) hauls in a long pass on the fifth play of Friday's quarterfinal game in the New Mexico high school football playoffs. The catch set up the Storm's first touchdown in the 38-14 victory over Las Cruces Mayfield.

Storm, Rams advance
to state semifinals

Cleveland ousts Mayfield, hosts Las Cruces next;
top-ranked Rio Rancho dominates Onate

The Cleveland Storm and Rio Rancho Rams started their second season Friday night, both hosting high school football playoff games.

There are a lot of similarities, and some ironic contrasts, to the opening weekend of the regular season in August:

*The Storm and Rams faced the same opponents, but different opposition. This time Cleveland played Las Cruces Mayfield and Rio Rancho played Las Cruces Onate.

*Different weather, to be sure. The Rams’ 34-7 victory over then top-ranked Mayfield on Aug. 26 was called in the third quarter due to lightning. Cleveland and Onate played the next day in sweltering heat and humidity, with the Storm posting a 24-14 victory. 

Friday night was played under clear skies with little wind, buy frigid conditions that meant a sparse crowd at Cleveland High. If not for the Storm band Mayfield might have had more fans in the visitor’s bleachers than the Storm had.

*Different locations. Cleveland and Rio Rancho were the host teams this time. Both August games were played at the Field of Dreams in Las Cruces.

The trip north turned into a field of nightmares for the Las Cruces schools, because the most important similarity was that the two City of Vision teams obtained the same bottom-line result: impressive victories.

Despite missing their starting quarterback and one of their best receivers with injures, Cleveland held off the Trojans38-14, pulling away in the second half. Across town, the Rams dominated the Knights 48-0 to keep their perfect season alive.

Cleveland will play host to Las Cruces High at 7 p.m. the night after Thanksgiving with a trip to the championship game on the line. The defending state champions defeated the Bulldawgs 49-41 in a wild game the third week of the season in Rio Rancho.

Las Cruces, who suffered their only loss of the season to Cleveland, advanced Friday night by beating Clovis 35-14.

The Rams, meanwhile, must wait a day to see who, when and where they will play. No. 5 seed Manzano plays at No. 4 seed Centennial today at 1 p.m., with the winner meeting the Rams.

The Rio Rancho Observer reported the Rams will play a day game next weekend, though it is not clear if the game will be on Friday or Saturday.

Rio Rancho did not play Centennial this year, but dominated Manzano 64-27 in its fifth game of the year on Sept. 23. The Monarchs, 8-2, have won seven straight games since then, including a 47-0 shutout over Atrisco Heritage Academy in the first round of the playoffs last week.

Still, most are expecting an all-city championship final in two weeks in what would be the biggest high school matchup in That matchup would be played at Rio Rancho High on Dec. 2 or Dec. 3.

It would be a rematch of the Oct. 7 42-28 Rio Rancho victory that wasn’t decided until the final quarter. 

Cleveland, mine is it starting quarterback in one of the best receivers on Friday, found itself in a dogfight into the third quarter. But a defense of stand and a missed Mayfield field goal that could have made it a one-score game, and an ensuing Cleveland touchdown changes the momentum for good.

When Mayfield coach Michael Bradley saw that Cleveland quarterback Anthony Trujillo wasn’t participating in warmups, he knew he was going to see a heavy rushing attack against him, led by Niko Papadopoulos. The senior running back didn’t disappoint, rushing 27 times for 173 yards and four touchdowns on runs of 2, 4, 27 and 37 yards. The last two came in the fourth quarter as Cleveland salted the game away.
Reserve quarterback Jacob Flores gained 116 yards and scored Cleveland’s first touchdown on a 21-yard run on the opening possession.

That drive might be instructive for the future. Papadopoulos ran four straight times, including a fourth down conversion, before Flores hit Justin Ainsworth on a long gainer to set  up his own scoring run.

The senior quarterback ran a scaled-down passing offense, completing just 3-of-5 throws for 90 yards. Two were deep completions to Ainsworth; the two incompletions were interceptions.

Still Mayfield, which finishes the year 6-6, hung in the game. Running back Isaac Vance scored on a 14-yard run, completing a drive that started when two-way player Torry Locklin got the first interception off Flores. Locklin also served as Mayfield’s quarterback.

Papadopoulos’ put the Storm ahead for good with his two short TD runs in the second quarter, but Mayfield hung in. 
Vance capped the opening drive of the second half with a 4-yard run, and suddenly the Storm led by just seven points at 21-14. 

Cleveland responded with a drive of its own, capped by a 35-yard field goal by T.J. Pickens. The kicker also made all five of his extra points on the night.

Down 10, the Trojans drove for a field goal attempt of their own, but the kick missed and Mayfield’s hopes were gone for good. 

Papadopoulos’ third rushing touchdown stretched the margin to 31-14, and he added his last TD run, which included a strong stiff-arm to break free of a Trojan defender, after Bradley gambled on fourth down in an attempt to get back into the game.

Bradley gambled again later in the fourth quarter, but Mayfield’s failure to convert didn’t cost them points when Flores was intercepted a second time in the closing two minutes after his desperation heave in attempt to keep possession for  Cleveland  was picked off. The Trojans completed a long pass inside the Storm 20 but couldn’t score as the clock ran out. Vance, who finished with 88 yards, was knocked out of bounds at the Cleveland five on the last play of the game.

Mayfield got inside the Cleveland 20 five times on the night but could only score twice.

It was the first time the home team won in five playoff meetings. Cleveland won at Mayfield in the state semifinals last year en route to its undefeated championship season.

Cleveland has won 23 of its last 24 games the past two seasons.


At Rio Rancho High, Josh Foley set the tone with a 52-yard fumble return for a touchdown three minutes in the game.

The Rams, who also defeated the Knights 38-10 on Sept. 16, completed the rare feat of  scoring on offense, defense and special teams against Onate for the second time this season. 

Foley also had TD runs of 46 and  57 yards as he rushed for 114 yards  on just seven carries. He managed only 62 yards in the regular-season game against Onate.

The Knights gained just 151 yards in total offense against the dominant Rams defense. Rio Rancho had 305 yards, which is more than 130 yards below its season average but still good enough on this night.

Rio Rancho used big plays on offense. Four of the five Ram offensive scores came on plays of at least 30 yards.

Austin Hise threw a 36-yard touchdown pass to fellow receiver Derrick Reyes on a flanker pass, quarterback Nic Little scored on a 34=yard run, 
And Jaylen McKinley returned the second-half kickoff 99 yards 
Zeneth Klövenas, normally a defensive player, scored the final points of the game on a short run.

Still, most are expecti
Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016

Reminder Election polls open at 7 a.m. in Sandoval County. Click here for voting locations.

Monday, Nov.  7, 2016

RECOMMENDED CUTS:This list of budget cuts was presehted to the Rio Rancho School Board on Monday by the district administration. The Board will likely vote on the nearly $1.8 million reductions it its next meeting on Nov. 14.

RRPS board hears recommendations
for budget cuts from administration


The Rio Rancho school board heard recommendations from the district’s administrative staff on where to cut almost $1.8 million from the current budget as mandated by the state after the recent special Legislative session.

Recommendations include a 5 percent across-the-board cut of all departments, a one-day furlough for administrative e staff, and using $300,000 in reserves.

District CEO Richard Bruce also presented other things that could be cut possible other things that could be cut if the state mandates additional reductions during the Legislative session next year. With the price of oil – and the taxes it generates – continuing to be low, more cuts are possible in the spring.

The board also heard the results of feasibility study about building a new permanent building on the current site of Shining Stars pre-school as opposed to acquiring land elsewhere.

The study indicated it could cost the district an additional $1.8 million to rebuild on site because construction would take extra time around classes in session.

It also indicated it would be unlikely the facility would have room to expand beyond its 300-per session current capacity. District officials say private concerns have expressed interest in trading land and commercially developing the current Shining Stars site at Rockaway and Northern.

A vote on the budget cuts is likely at the regular board meeting next Monday; the board wanted more details on the options on Shining Stars and will likely take final action in December. It must also decide if Shining Stars or the new Joe Harris Elementary since the funds generated by the recent bond issue are spread out over four years.

Given the budget cuts, building Joe Harris would seemingly be on the back burner for now because opening an entirely new school requires additional revenue for operational costs, such as personnel and equipment, beyond the money approved for construction.

As an apparent money-saving move, staff turned out half the lights in the meeting room while the board met in executive session for 52 minutes to discuss collective bargaining strategy. The half of the room with the board secretary and one other staff stayed illuminated; lights were turned out on the media.

The board also failed to follow procedures of the state open meetings act when it came out of executive session by failing to formally state no action was taken during the closed session, though individual members assured that no votes were conducted in the private section of the meeting.

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