Notes from the North

The Robertson-St. Michael’s rivalry goes back a ways, since before Robertson changed its name from Las Vegas High School in 1958. Since that name change, the Cardinals have held a 33-27-2 advantage over the Horsemen.

St. Michael’s dominated the early years of the duel, winning 12 of the first 18 matchups. However, a 12-year Cardinals reign from 1986-97 swung momentum in the other direction.

Saturday will mark the fourth time the programs face off in the postseason, with Robertson holding a 2-1 advantage. St. Michael’s won the first game 27-6 for the 2007 3A championship, but the Cardinals won the previous two in huge upsets.

In 2013, Robertson, the ninth seed in the 3A bracket, beat the undefeated Horsemen 22-13 in the quarterfinals to avenge a 50-0 loss during the regular season. The win spurred an unlikely state title, which was the last for the program.

In 2018, the Horsemen were 4 minutes away from a semifinal appearance when the Cardinals scored 15 unanswered points, with the winning 2-point conversion coming in the final seconds for a 28-27 win. That paved the way for the Cardinals to make it to their fourth straight 3A championship game before losing to Dexter, 22-12, in the championship game.

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Speaking of tradition, the Las Vegas Robertson Cardinals have that in droves. Not only has head coach Leroy Gonzalez been involved in eight of Robertson’s nine championship game appearances, so has assistant coach Chris Najjar. Cardinals offensive coordinator Lucas Sanchez played on the 2005 championship team and will coach in his fifth championship game on Saturday against St. Michael’s.

Adam Martinez, who was also on the 2005 team and a five-time state wrestling champion, also is on the coaching staff this season.

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If St. Michael’s senior Daymon Lujan needs any tips on how to handle championship week, all he has to do is hit up his cousin.

Cory Serna quarterbacked the Horsemen to its last state title nine years ago and is a volunteer assistant on this season’s coaching staff. Every week, he runs the scout team offense as the opposition’s quarterback. After all these years, he’s as fast as ever and can still deliver the ball with pinpoint accuracy.

“[Cory] has always talked about what is was like, and now I get a chance to carry on the family tradition,” Lujan said. “Can’t do better than that.”

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We will take a deeper look at Jordan Bernal’s story later this week, but for now, we’ll tell you this: The St. Michael’s lineman and his family have had an emotional year.

After Saturday’s game, a win over Raton in the Class 3A semifinals, Bernal’s mother said her husband, Rob, has been deployed overseas with the National Guard for past last nine months and has been unable to watch his son’s senior season unfold in person. Bernal has dedicated this year to his father, which includes the truncated spring season when the Horsemen went 4-0.

Bernal has been a mainstay on the line all season, helping stabilize a unit that has had reams of turnover thanks to injuries, COVID-19 and personnel shifts.

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The exploits of Santa Fe High kickers Molly Wissman and Jazzi Gonzalez this season gained the attention of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who recognized them for their contributions earlier this week.

The players, who also were a part of the Demons’ District 5-5A champion girls soccer program, received letters from the Buccaneers, congratulating them on their success.

The two also received team hats and flags along with their letters.

“Know that you can achieve anything you put your mind to, so continue to set your sights high both on the field and — most importantly — in the classroom,” the letter stated.

Wissman was the placekicker for most of the season and hit 25 of 30 point-after attempts. Gonzalez was 2-for-2 on PATs but was a key part of the kickoff squad. She even had a pair of tackles that prevented touchdown returns during the season.

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The Albuquerque Isotopes have had a string of local stars suit up over the years.

Guys like Brian Cavazos-Galvez and Austin House, to name a few, have worn the uniform after starting their baseball careers playing on the Little League and high school fields of Albuquerque.

Add Jordan Pacheco to that list. The former La Cueva and University of New Mexico star was hired this week by the Colorado Rockies to be the Isotopes’ hitting coach next season. Pacheco was part of some of the best prep teams in state history at La Cueva, then batted .384 during his time as a Lobo.

He parlayed that into a solid professional career, making his first big league roster with the Rockies in 2011. He also spent time with the Reds and Diamondbacks before retiring from pro ball this year.

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The 2021 football season is in the books for New Mexico Highlands, ending a 4-6 year in which the Cowboys finished in a tie for sixth place in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.

Receiver CJ Sims was named the RMAC’s offensive player of the year after a remarkable season in which he caught 57 passes for 951 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also had a rushing touchdown and was a star on special teams as the team’s top return threat. He was also named first-team offense at receiver and second-team special teamer.

Highlands safety Malik Brown was named first-team on defense with defensive tackle Trejen Lawrence being voted onto the second team. Receiver Quavon Beckford was named to the second team offense. Four other Cowboys were recognized as honorable mentions.

(7) comments

David Romero

The school was called Normal University according to Don Ford’s History of NM HS Football. Thanks for the clarification.

David Romero

Las Vegas HS and Robertson are the same school. Why start the rivalry when the name changed? The first time the two schools met was in 1928 which makes this rivalry 93 years old.

Don CdeBaca

You are exactly right David Romero.

Don CdeBaca

Yes...you are right David Romero. There were 3 High Schools in LasVegas Back in the 30's and 40's. Las Vegas High, IC catholic school and Normal Highalso called High Land High on the Highlands campus. They all belonged to one class back then. Las Vegas High changed to Robertson High.

David Romero

No WLV? How about Las Vegas Normal University. Seems to like SM played them at one time long, long ago.

Don CdeBaca

There was no WLV until Normal High ended in the '50s.

Don CdeBaca

Normal High was on the Highlands campus. There was no Normal University. My father graduated from Normal High also called Highland High.

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