Notes from the North

It’s been a busy week for college football coaches around here, with nine new faces on the UNM football staff, the retirement (wink-wink) of Rocky Long, the exit of Marty Fine at New Mexico Highlands, the jump from the L.A. Coliseum to Jerry World for former NMHU front man John Fassel, and then Saturday’s news that Albuquerque native and Eastdale Little League legend Zach Arnett had taken the defensive coordinator’s job at Syracuse.

Arnett had been Long’s DC at San Diego State but had the path cleared for his move across the country when Long stepped down and handed the keys to the Aztecs kingdom to Brady Hoke. Hoke then shook every apple from the tree and turned over most of his staff.

One of his keepers was Arnett, a former linebacker at UNM and the successor of the DC’s post after Danny Gonzales left SDSU for Arizona State after the 2017 season. Instead, Arnett (a 2009 UNM grad) is trading in his Montezuma Mesa scarlet and black for Lake Ontario orange and blue.

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The website 247sports.com is operated by CBS and operated by its sports digital wing.

It is, it seems, one of the more entertaining and informative online spots for all things college athletics, evening linking visitors to the wildly popular high school sports website maxpreps.com. Anyone who’s a fan of prep sports knows a thing or two about maxpreps.

One thing 247sports lacks, however, is geographical awareness regarding the Land of Enchantment. The day UNM hired Danny Gonzales to coach its football team, the site published a story headlined “College coaching carousel 2019: Truth, rumors, intrigue.”

It rattles through some of the talking points of the week, like Fresno State hiring Kalen DeBour as head coach, Texas naming Chris Ash as its defensive coordinator and Jeff Hafley taking over as head man at Boston College.

It also uses the top of the page to update readers on various reports that Gonzales had been tabbed as head coach … at New Mexico State. Congrats, Aggies, on stealing an Albuquerque guy away from the state’s flagship school like that. It was a very Paul Weir-esque move, if only in reverse.

The story was posted at 3:02 p.m. Dec. 17 and the subhead was still there as of Sunday morning.

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A couple of Saturday prep games that didn’t make deadline:

Santa Fe High beat Clovis, 62-53, in a nondistrict game in Toby Roybal Memorial Gymnasium. Fedonta “JB” White, who dislocated his left patella in last year’s 55-54 loss and missed the rest of the 2018-19 season, scored 30 points against the Wildcats. The Demons improved to 12-3 on the season and face Española Valley on Thursday.

Cuba downed Santa Fe Prep, 62-29, in the final game of the Cuba Invitational round-robin tournament. The Lady Rams led 31-16 at the half and 42-25 heading into the fourth quarter when Prep head coach Anika Amon put in her younger players to get some experience. Cuba knocked down nine 3-pointers on the night. Katherine Bair led the Blue Griffins (4-4) with 15 points and was named to the all-tournament team.

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The New Mexico High School Coaches Association is branching out its high school graduate all-star series this year to include boys and girls soccer, and announced the region teams earlier this week.

Northern New Mexico will be represented. St. Michael’s had two players made the Northeast region team in forward Esteban Rigales and midfielder Berkeley Reynolds, while Pedro Chavez was the lone representative for Monte del Sol. Los Alamos’ Yeremi Rodriguez, Pojoaque Valley’s Sebastian Rubio, Jose Pichardo of Tierra Encantada and Las Vegas Robertson’s Musah Doumbia also made the squad.

On the girls side, Robertson had Isa Glenn and Maricela Montoya make the team, while Santa Fe Indian School’s Kiera Mermejo-Varga and Alyssa Parker of Los Alamos made the team.

The “North-South” series will deviate from its usual Albuquerque destination this summer, as the event moves to Las Cruces from June 4-6.

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NEW James Barron and Will Webber talk about the impact of the dismissal of Carlton Bragg from the UNM men's basketball team, then take a look at the district outlook for local prep hoops squads.

The Northern New Mexico College men’s basketball team had six players named to the dean’s list for the fall semester. Bruno Guedes, Victor Navajas de Faria, Ricardo Zambrano, David Chaloupka, Reyes Ludi-Herrera and Omar Dominguez earned the honors, which goes to students who pass a minimum of 12 credits hours with at least a 3.5 grade-point average.

“I am extremely proud of my student-athletes,” Eagles head coach Ryan Cordova said. “We preach the importance of academics in our program, and for us to have six guys make the list is a great achievement.”

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And then there were three.

Cleveland’s win over Volcano Vista in the finals of the Metro Championships over the weekend in Albuquerque leaves just three boys basketball teams with an undefeated record. Cleveland (16-0) and Volcano (13-1) were the last unbeaten teams in Class 5A.

Defending Class 3A state champ Hot Springs (12-0) is still perfect, as is Magdalena (13-0) in 2A.

The state has not had an undefeated boys state champion at any level since Magdalena in 2015 and the big-school class has not had one since Hobbs ran the table way back in 1999.

Staying perfect won’t be easy. Cleveland heads to Volcano Vista on Jan. 22 for the district opener for both teams, meaning they could see one another at least two more times before the state tournament begins.

The road is especially perilous for Magdalena, which travels to three-time defending state champ Pecos on Thursday in a game that will undoubtedly send shockwaves through the 2A landscape. The winner is clearly the team to beat the rest of the way.

Hot Springs doesn’t have it easy in the least. The Tigers head to a tournament at Hope Christian starting Thursday.

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