The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Football, soccer pushed to February


July 19, 2020

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The Clovis Wildcats are scheduled to see their football season resume in February under a calendar released Wednesday by the New Mexico Activities Association. The Wildcats, Class 6A semifinalists last year, are hoping to reach a May 8 state championship game.

There was the United States Football League. The World League of American Football. The XFL.

And now, the New Mexico Activities Association?

Yes, get ready for some spring football because Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced last week that contact high school sports will not be played this fall. So the NMAA has pushed football and soccer back to February starts.

"I think it's good that we're going to be having a limited schedule and trying to get all the sports in," Clovis girls soccer coach Traci Sievers said. "I think that's good for the kids."

"Times are strange all over right now," Texico football coach Bob Gilbreath said. "It's hard to know what it'll feel like to be playing football in February, but as long as we get to play, I'm tickled that we will."

Clovis' football team had designs on winning a state 6A championship. Those designs haven't changed.

"We kind of knew that this might happen," Clovis football coach Cal Fullerton said. "It was kind of a gut-shot to us when they said there would be no fall contact sports. ... But the NMAA started talking about doing something in the spring, and as soon as they started talking about that, our kids were excited. They can't wait to get in (during) the spring and do what we planned on doing in the fall."

According to the revamped schedule, soccer will begin Feb. 15, with state tournament games slated for April 12-17. Football is set to kick off Feb. 22, with state championships scheduled for April 23-24 and 30, May 1 and 8.

"Oh, it's going to be crazy," Melrose football coach Caleb King said. "And for a small school like us, we're going to be starting football right in the middle of postseason basketball. ... It's going to be really tough working the dynamics out."

The Buffaloes will be defending titles in both eight-man football and basketball. Last season 11 of the 19 players on the football roster were also on the basketball roster.

The other fall sports will still occur during that season, just later than usual. Cross country starts Sept. 14, volleyball Oct. 5.

As for winter sports, basketball and swimming/diving seasons will also be delayed a bit - instead of starting in November or December, they will begin Jan. 4.

Portales girls basketball coach Wade Fraze is relieved that there will be a season.

"We didn't know really what to expect at all," Fraze said. "We were even prepared to just play a district schedule. It's a little more than that; we have 18 games varsity-wise."

Baseball, softball, golf, tennis and track and field will also be delayed, but still play in the spring, beginning April 5. So, not too weird.

And in some states, boys or girls soccer occurs in the spring, so that's not way out of the ordinary, either.

The strangest of the strange will be high school football in the spring.

"In 1976 I played football for the very first time, and I've been involved in football every fall since," Gilbreath said. "I was thinking about that the other day - this will be the first fall that I haven't been involved in football. ... Life will be different."

"At the end of the day," Fullerton said, "I'm happy that our kids get a chance to play."


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