High school football is in the works for New Mexico, but how it is going to look is another question.
When the New Mexico Activities Association approved the sports calendar for 2021 on Monday, football was given a seven-week window to play. Of course, in that window is a two-week timeline for athletes to get back into game shape and prepare for a season — meaning, football players can expect a five-week season, at most.
“We are locked into seven weeks and you pretty much have to have two weeks of preseason football to get started,” Hobbs Athletic Director Brenda Wilson said. “So really, that pretty much limits it to five games.”
How the five-week season will be laid out is in the hands of the NMAA this year. Normally, games are scheduled by high school athletic directors, but that wont be the case this year. Instead, the NMAA will be doing it and schools will have to wait to find out how the schedules will look.
“The NMAA is doing all football schedules,” Wilson said. “They haven’t determined if it is going to be four district games and one postseason game or two district games and two postseason games. They are still working on that.”
NMAA Executive Director
Sally Marquez confirmed the NMAA will be making the football schedules for this season.
“That is correct,” Marquez said. “Once we find out how many teams are playing, or are able to play, we will be doing the schedule for football.”
Wilson said schools are hoping to be notified about schedules by Feb. 16.
“On Feb. 15th we will know more,” Marquez said. “We have to see how many teams are able to play football because they have to get in the hybrid model for school. Once we see how many teams are able to play, then we will formulate a plan. We have a five-week window to play games and we will formulate that plan.”
How the schedule works out could be interesting for Hobbs. The Eagles currently play in a six-team district with Las Cruces, Centennial, Oñate, Gadsden, and Carlsbad. If the NMAA were to go with a district only schedule and one playoff game, teams in Hobbs’ district would be forced to not play one district opponent.
“They may have to look at redistricting some people,” Wilson said. “If they got to three games and two postseason, that messes our district up because we are with Las Cruces district.”
Wilson believes, if the Eagles are temporarily redistricted for this season, that they could end up with a pair of familiar rivals, Clovis and Carlsbad.
“That is what I guess could happen,” the Hobbs athletic director said. “But I really don’t know.”
One of the biggest factors in making a schedule involves the schools themselves.
Before any school can play any sports, the campus for that school has to be open for students to return to in-person learning. While the governor said schools could start re-opening as early as Feb. 8, those schools actually doing so is a different story.
Students at Hobbs High School will have to wait until Feb. 16 to return. There will be a one-day orientation for students, who last attended school on March 13, 2020, on Feb. 11-12. Since Feb. 15 is a holiday, the first day high school students will be able to return is Feb. 16.
“The big schools are going in at different times,” Wilson said. “According to what PED said, they can’t play until they have been in hybrid for two weeks, so that is throwing off all the preseason games. … It is a lot of moving parts, that is for sure.”
As to crowning a state champion, that is another thing still being discussed.
“Some want to do it,” Wilson said of having a state champion. “Some want to make it more like a regional, but I don’t think it has been decided yet. I don’t know how you crown a state champion with only four games. Maybe they have a good plan, but I don’t know.”
“At this point, we do know that the coaches would like at least one week, some type of a culminating game for like No. 1 versus. No. 2 or a bowl type, but, we will have to see,” the NMAA Executive Director added.