After 117 days, 12 games, countless amount of practices, and nail-biters galore, we finally have our two teams.
Saturday afternoon, the best team in New Mexico’s high school football Class 6A will be determined, when the final two undefeated teams meet, and we’ll have it all for you on ESPN Radio 101.7 The Team. Squaring off for the blue trophy, the one-seed Cleveland Storm host the two-seed La Cueva Bears out at Lightning Bolt Stadium on the campus of Cleveland High School. Here’s an outlook of each team’s season this year and what you can expect from this game.
#1 Cleveland Storm vs. #2 La Cueva Bears: Saturday, 12/1, 1:00 pm @ Lightning Bolt Stadium at Cleveland High School – Rio Rancho, NM
First meeting between these two teams this season
November 24th, 2017, a 37-34 win for La Cueva
#1 Cleveland: 12-0 Overall, 6-0 in District 1/6A / Head Coach: Heath Ridenour / Previous Game: Win vs. Volcano Vista, 43-39 / Best Wins: Volcano Vista x2, Franklin (El Paso, TX)
#2 La Cueva: 12-0 Overall, 4-0 in District 2/6A / Head Coach: Brandon Back / Previous Game: Win vs. Centennial, 41-14 / Best Wins: Volcano Vista, Centennial
State Championship Game Preview:
The most anticipated matchup of the entire 2018 New Mexico high school football season is upon us on Saturday afternoon when the Cleveland Storm and La Cueva Bears finally meet to decide who is the best team in the state of New Mexico.
La Cueva is fresh off of their statement 40-14 semifinal win against the Centennial Hawks. “Really what it came down to is just our guys making plays when they had the chance,” La Cueva head coach Brandon Back said. “…and just getting the running game going. D’Andre had a big night in making some good cuts and some reads, and I think that was really the difference from us.”
The offense for the Bears has had their struggles throughout the season but picked up their pace in their last game against Centennial. Leading the offense at quarterback for La Cueva is Dylan Summer, who finished with 214 yards and three touchdowns in their semifinal game. “Our offense stepped it up because we saw what happened against Las Cruces and worked a lot harder to make sure we carry our part of the workload throughout the games,” Summer had to say about the last game. D’Andre Williams, who also had himself a heck of a game last week, rushed for 168 yards and two touchdowns, with most of those coming from him in a wildcat formation. Prince “Nas” Robertson and Connor O’Toole once again serve as the dynamic duo at wide receiver for the Bears, as the two combined for 214 yards and three touchdowns in their last game. “It’s exciting, two undefeated teams going at it for a state title,” said O’Toole about the game.
Knowing that this has been the most anticipated matchup of the year, Summer said it felt like destiny to go up against Cleveland in the state championship. “…we’ve waited and watched patiently for this opportunity and now it’s here,” added Summer. “I just want to say thank you to all the parents and coaches and people throughout our community, school and organization that have made my time here so memorable.”
Coach Back is ready for the task of taking on the Storm for the blue trophy. “(Cleveland) is gonna be a hard task. They’ve had some injuries obviously in their running back (Dorian Lewis), but they got athletes all over the place. Coach (Heath) Ridenour and his staff know what to do, they’ve got speed with (Randy) Nieto and a couple of other guys, so we know that it’s gonna be a challenge…”
Entering in with home-field advantage is the Cleveland Storm, who is coming off of a very close 43-39 win over the Volcano Vista Hawks. The Hawks grabbed the lead early and held it at the end of the first half, but eventually, the Storm would come back and secure the win in the second half.
Leading the offense for the Storm is Jeff Davison, who posted a 242 yard and two touchdown performance in their last game against Volcano Vista. “It is a great feeling to be able to be in this position, but I couldn’t be here if it were not for the effort and sacrifices made by my teammates,” Davison said. “I will do anything for my team and I hope we come out with the win. It is about my brothers on Saturday.” In the absence of Dorian Lewis at the running back spot, the Storm now look to Colten Madison to anchor the running game, and he has filled that role greatly. In their last game, Madison rushed for 60 yards and a touchdown. Tre Watson and Braedin Ross catch the passes for the Storm, as they combine for 176 yards and two touchdowns. “The intensity has definitely been up this week, and we’re excited to play in the game,” Watson said.
Like mentioned earlier, Watson knows just how important this matchup is. “Their front seven and their safety (Blaine Smith) are very talented in those areas, but we think if we execute, run what we’re supposed to run, and block where we’re supposed to block, I think we’ll be fine.”
Cleveland head coach Heath Ridenour is excited for his team’s first chance to take on La Cueva and knows what they are up against. “It’s a goal for everyone to get to the state championship, so it is a huge honor to be there,” Ridenour said. “We got better every single week that we played, and we got on the field and played some good opponents. I feel like we’ve earned the right to play in the state championship.”
Before we begin our coverage of the championship game on Saturday, join us for the Team High School Show with Scott Galetti and James Yodice, broadcast live from Cleveland High School at 10:00 am. Then, Galetti and Coach David Williams will have your call starting with the pregame show at 12:00 pm.