Most great football teams have a star player or two — guys who can sometimes turn a nothing play into something spectacular and are always threats to go the distance.
At the 6-man level this year, Clovis Christian certainly has that in senior running back Mike Urioste and junior running back Kevin Naceanceno, who have combined for 42 of the top-ranked Eagles’ 50 touchdowns this season in a 6-0 start.
Behind the scenes, though, are players who take care of the little things and help open the door for team success.
For CCS, senior Mike Root, primarily an offensive lineman, and junior Scott Fly, a 145-pound cornerback, fill that bill.
“They both play their roles very well,” said CCS coach Jason Swann, a 2003 graduate of the school in his fourth year leading the program. “They play their role so the other guys can be in the limelight.
“They’d be the best players on most of the teams we’ve played so far. But they’ve accepted their roles for us.”
It’s been a comeback year for the 6-foot-1, 225-pound Root, who missed virtually all of his junior season with a broken collarbone sustained in the first practice in August. He didn’t get back until in the Eagles’ 8-man semifinal loss to Tatum in November.
“I was a little nervous when I put the pads on again (this fall),” Root acknowledged.
CCS, which Swann said has an enrollment of 42 students between grades 9-12, dropped to 6-man this year and has been routinely destroying its opponents. Every game so far has ended early on the 45-point lead rule after halftime.
“When (the New Mexico Activities Association) did the redistricting, we decided to move down,” Swann said.
With everyone an eligible receiver on offense, Root does catch an occasional pass from freshman quarterback Kevin Naceanceno, or even carry the ball from a backfield position from time to time.
He’s scored three touchdowns this season, two on pass receptions and one on a run.
“Mike is always the lead blocker,” Swann said. “He gets thrown to about twice a game.”
Root sees limited duty on defense, most often playing in goalline situations.
“I don’t get to play a whole lot of defense, but when I do I try to make the most of it,” he said. “I’d play both ways in a heartbeat if I could.
“I tell Jason to put me in all the time on defense, but he just kind of ignores me.”
Fly, meantime, sees almost all his action on the defensive side of the ball. His main job is to try to disrupt the opponent’s offense as much as possible.
“Scott does the little things for us on defense that Mike does on offense,” Swann said. “He flies in after the lead blocker, and a lot of times he makes the tackle.”
His approach never changes, Fly said, adding that it’s not hard to keep motivated despite all the lopsided scores so far.
“I go into all the games the same,” he said. “It’s not hard to keep that fire. I try to keep my teammates pumped up.”
After this week’s open date, the Eagles continue 6-man District 2 play against probably the best teams they’ll see in the regular season — at San Jon on Saturday and at Roy/Mosquero on Oct. 22.
While it’s nice to win big all the time, a stiffer test wouldn’t hurt at this point.
“I just want to play a team that’ll challenge us,” Fly said, “just so we know how good we are.”
Added Root: “San Jon and Roy are very good teams, and it’ll be good competition.”
Both players might be considered long shots for playing in college, but neither has given up that possibility.
“I’ve always wanted to play college football,” Root said. “Wherever I go to college, I’ll probably try out. But at least I’ve had a lot of fun in high school doing it.”
Fly’s main obstacle, no doubt, will be his size.
“If I get the opportunity to play in college, I will,” he said. “We’ll just have to see what happens.”