It was a banner year for high school football in the area in 2008.
Five teams claimed state championships, including Portales rolling through the Class 3A playoffs for its first title in 20 years and Muleshoe notching the school’s first football state crown with an impressive five-game charge through the Texas Class 2A Division I playoffs.
Meantime, Texico in Class 2A, Fort Sumner in Class 1A and Melrose in 8-man also earned championship trophies.
Portales (10-3) proved it was the best team in 3A with convincing wins over Cobre, Bloomfield and District 4-3A rival Lovington in the postseason. Senior quarterback Michael Trujillo threw for six touchdowns and ran for a seventh in a 48-10 drubbing of Lovington in the finals.
Muleshoe was even more dominant. The Mules (15-0), who won an early-season matchup with Portales, outscored their playoff foes 187-73, capped by a 48-26 win over Kirbyville in the finals.
“You always think you can (win the title),” veteran Mules coach David Wood said. “After we got rolling in the playoffs we started to believe we could win it.”
Texico captured its first title since moving up from 1A several years ago, outlasting defending champion Santa Rosa 28-21 in overtime in the semifinals and edging Dexter 28-26 in the finals, both on the road.
“This one is the best because it was in 2A,” said Texico coach Mike Prokop, who led the Wolverines to back-to-back Class 1A titles in 2003 and 2004. “A lot of people didn’t think we could win a state championship in 2A. This was two undefeated teams going at it. Dexter had some bad luck, we take our hats off to them, but our kids knew what they had to do and they did it.”
Fort Sumner and Melrose completely outclassed the competition in their respective divisions. The Foxes pounded Clayton 48-0 for their fourth consecutive 1A title, while the Buffaloes notched their first 8-man crown with a 50-8 thumping of Tatum.
In other 2008 stories of note:
* Clovis High’s girls captured their second Class 5A state track title in three years, edging favored Cibola 72-70 by finishing third in the 1,600 relay finale while the Cougars were fourth to break a tie for the top spot.
“This is the coolest thing ever, to come out and do this with my team,” said 1,600 relay anchor runner Caitlin Waters, who also won the 800 for a second consecutive year. “I am so excited.”
The title was the 10th in the program’s history and second for coach Darrel Ray.
* Fort Sumner gave the area a second girls state track champion by repeating in Class 1A
* For the second time this decade, Texico swept Class 2A state titles in basketball. In the boys final, the Wolverines went 20-for-20 from the free throw line and held off Mesilla Valley 58-55.
Meantime, the Lady Wolverines turned back top-seeded Navajo Prep 55-45 behind 16 points from senior Brooke Bailey to complete a 28-2 season and earn their second consecutive title and fifth since 2000.
Both Texico teams won 2A titles in 2001.
* Clovis High grad and Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Hank Baskett helped his team stay in contention for an NFL playoff berth. Going into today’s finale, Baskett had put together his best statistical season so far with 33 catches for 440 yards and three touchdowns.
Meantime, off the field, Baskett made news by becoming engaged to Playboy Playmate Kendra Wilkinson in November.
* Clovis High made coaching changes in baseball and girls basketball. Baseball coach Shane Shallenberger left after seven seasons to take over a new program at Rio Rancho Cleveland High School while girls basketball coach Miles Watters decided to take a one-year sabattical after a seven-season run at the Lady Wildcats’ helm, including a 30-0 record and Class 5A state championship in 2005.
* The Wildcats put together a scintillating run to the 5A boys state basketball championship game last spring, only to see it end in a 73-71 loss to District 4-5A rival Hobbs in the finals at Albuquerque. The Eagles pinned the only two losses on the Cats, who split four meetings with Hobbs and finished 29-2.
* Texico and Fort Sumner continued to dominate small-school volleyball in New Mexico. The Lady Wolverines rallied from a two-game deficit to beat Navajo Prep for their third consecutive Class 2A title, while Fort Sumner thumped Animas in three games to take the Class 1A crown for the second time in three years and the fifth time since 1996.
* Clovis High’s Jaden Isler, who helped the Wildcats to their second-place finish at state in March, collapsed and nearly died while watching a softball game on March 27 at Canyon, Texas. Isler, who had announced an oral commitment to Division I Charleston Southern university that day, has since recovered and is now playing at Lubbock Christian.
* Cassie Mosley of Farwell had the lead in early rounds of barrel racing at the Wragler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nev., in early December. She was unable to hang on, though, and eventually finished fourth.
* In the College National Finals Rodeo in late June at Casper, Wyo., Eastern New Mexico University junior Kyle Roberts of Durango, Colo., teamed with Kory Bramwell of Ranger (Texas) Junior College to take the team-roping national championship. ENMU’s Tyrell Flewelling of Lacombe, Alberta, Canada, teamed with Arena M. DeLaCruz of Weatherford (Texas) College to place second in the event.
* Fort Sumner
* Texico girls
* Texico boys
* Fort Sumner
* Clovis girls
* Fort Sumner girls