Notes from the North

And down go the Bulldawgs.

By a painfully slim margin, the Las Cruces High football team was voted out in the Round of 32 of the National Helmet Tournament that pits the top 67 lid designs from 45 states in a Twitter poll showdown that gave followers a chance to examine each logo and vote for their top pick.

’Cruces survived the first round against the Pratt (Kan.) Greenbacks, getting 52 percent of the nearly 2,000 votes. The Bulldawgs were then paired against the Carter (Tenn.) Hornets, one of the reigning state champions from around the country. It was close but Carter and its forest green dome and paneled white hornet won with 50.6 percent of the vote.

Some of the helmets are pretty creative. You can take a look by perusing the NHT feed on Twitter. The voting is still going for at least part of the Round of 32.

Lids that kind of stand out include the Chinook (Mont.) Sugarbeeters with, well, just take a gander. It’s hard to describe without coming across as obtuse. Just think of an orange sugar-skull character with beaters for legs.

You also have to love others like the Fisher (Ill.) Bunnies and their white lids and a copper rabbit face staring out from the top of the facemask. Then there’s the Auburndale (Fla.) Bloodhounds. Their yellow dome has an angry-faced, tongue-wagging profile of a canine.

Others, like the Camas (Wash.) Papermakers, El Paso Pebble Hills Spartans, Williamsport (Pa.) Millionaires, and Homer (Alaska) Mariners deserve a double take.

The closest poll at this point, and for good reason, was the matchup that pitted the chrome lids of the Rockets from Crittenden County (Ky.) and the feathered headdress of the Utica (Ohio) Redskins. Crittenden County won with 50.1 percent of the 2,572 votes cast.

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The big leagues may be having a hard time getting America’s pastime back on the field, but the Pecos League managed it. The independent league that is home to the Santa Fe Fuego launched its abbreviated/impromptu summer season on Saturday when the Tucson Saguaros beat the Houston Hotshots 4-3 in the exhibition opener.

James Barron and Will Webber discuss the significant toll the COVID-19 pandemic has had on sports locally and nationally, and also share their thoughts on a bizarre state basketball tournament that finished in front of no fans.

The league shut its summer season down in early June after extended delays caused by the spread of the novel coronavirus. To keep the league alive, President and founder Andrew Dunn scraped together five teams for a shortened season season scheduled to begin July 1. One of those teams is the Fuego, but it’s a roster filled with players from around the league and free-agent pickups cobbled together from tryouts in the Houston area.

The Fuego replacements will open against Trinidad in what amounts to the first game of the summer regular season at 9 a.m. Mountain on July 1. As Dunn posted in his recap of Saturday’s exhibition, humidity is going to be a factor. The humidity level topped out at roughly 70 percent at game time. Santa Fe’s was around 9 percent.

Contrary to previous reports, the Pecos League is actually letting a limited number of fans into games. They’re all being played at the Coastal Baseball Park, which juts up against the Sam Houston Tollway that loops around the metropolitan area. No tickets sold will be sold at the gate; all spots must be purchased in advance online and fans are told to stay at least 6 feet apart.

The field itself went through some upgrades in recent weeks. The left-field wall was moved back to 320 feet and raised from 4 feet to 12. The only permanent seats are a pair of bleachers by each dugout.

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The New Mexico Activities Association is circulating a waiver form for student-athletes getting ready for the 2020-21 school year. Three of the 10 yes/no questions directly address COVID-19, including whether the athlete or anyone in his or her family has been tested positive or if anyone they’ve come into close contact with had the disease.

The waiver can be found on the NMAA’s website or by visiting the link on the New Mexico Overtime Sports page on Facebook.

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The grades have never been better for the University of New Mexico’s student-athletes. The school announced last week that the athletic program produced a record-breaking semester in the spring with the 14 teams each posting at least a 3.0 grade point average.

The cumulative GPA was 3.55, with 296 of the department’s 393 athletes surpassing a 3.0. Of those, 99 had a 4.0. The men’s tennis team set a school record with a 3.97 team GPA with football at 3.10, men’s basketball at 3.17, baseball at 3.31 and all the women’s sports combining for a 3.74, their highest mark ever.

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