3 overall MVPs highlight local all-district honors
It was a great local football season, with all seven area teams securing postseason berths.
Hobbs, Lovington, Eunice, Jal, Tatum, Denver City and Seminole were all playing meaningful football in November. Not a bad deal.
Lovington, though, was the lone area team to hoist a blue trophy last November. With their 57-21 victory over Portales on Nov. 25 at Eastern New Mexico University, the Wildcats earned the program’s second state championship in the past three seasons.
Lovington (10-3) also won a District 4/6-4A championship along the way, clinching that with a win over Portales on Oct. 27 at Brian Urlacher Field.
And the all-district accolades came pouring in for the Wildcats, including receiver/linebacker/defensive lineman Demarcus Thompson being named District Player of the Year.
“I’ve been coaching this game for 18 years,” Gonzales said last month, “and he’s probably the second-best football player I’ve ever had a chance to coach.”
High praise, considering the best was Myles Garrett when Gonzales was coaching at James Martin High School in Arlington, Texas. Garrett went on to play for Texas A&M before becoming the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft.
The Wildcats had 28 first-team selections: Thompson was a first-teamer at wide receiver and defensive end. Wyatt Gomez was the district’s first-team quarterback.
Lovington had four offensive linemen make first team – Jayden Bosquez, Valente Herrera, Alex Rivera and Damien Munoz.
Camon Ochoa and Alec Holguin were first-team running backs for the Wildcats. Anson Marquez – who reeled in three touchdown catches in the Wildcats’ state-championship victory – was named a first-team tight end.
Cesar Gonzalez and Elijah Rivero were named first-team slot receivers. Bosquez, Herrera, Rivera and Munoz were each first-team at defensive line. And joining Thompson as a first-team defensive end was Patrick Sanchez.
Kyler Reaves was first-team at inside linebacker; Marquez and Ealan Clayton were first-team outside linebackers.
Holguin, Gonzalez, Ochoa and Jayden Gutierrez were all first-team selections for their play in the secondary.
Ochoa completed a sweep of first-team selections by making it as a returner. Rivero and Gutierrez were also first-team returners for Lovington.
And Caleb Aranda was a first-team place kicker for the Wildcats.
Second-team selections for Lovington were: Jaden Garcia at offensive line; Zadrick Betancourt and Sanchez at wide receiver; Michael Hein at defensive end; Betancourt on the secondary; Sanchez at punter; and Remy Hernandez at place kicker.
Eunice was the only other Lea County team to win its district, capturing the District 4-2A title, and the only other of the seven local teams to at least play in a state championship game. And the honors rained down on the Cardinals.
Starting at quarterback, where sophomore Elijah Melancon was named District Player of the Year.
Loving inside linebacker Eduardo De La Cruz and Texico defensive lineman Taye Smith were named Co-Players of the Year.
Besides Melancon, also getting all-district first-team nods for Eunice were: kicker/running back Eljan Woods, wide receiver Ashton Thompson, defensive back Luis Gomez, and defensive lineman Jose Calvillo.
Cardinals making the second-team offense were: receiver Maddox Mata, receiver Jaen Castro, Calvillo at center, offensive lineman Isaiah Hernandez, and offensive lineman Nic Hernandez.
Eunice players earning second-team defensive honors were: defensive lineman Jorge Goitia, linebacker Jacob Ortega, linebacker Brady Colborn, and Kevin Garcia for the secondary.
Cornerback Ito Arroyo represented Jal on the District 4-2A first team, as did defensive end/outside linebacker Brandon Houston, safety Nolbert Cervantes, defensive tackle Jesus Carreon, and offensive guard Cash Taylor.
Arroyo was selected as a second-team receiver, and teammate Austin Giles was picked as a second-team offensive tackle.
Highlighting the District 3/4-6A honors was Hobbs’ Tristan Davis getting named Defensive Newcomer of the Year.
Eagles making the all-district first team were: offensive lineman Oscar Mascarenas, offensive lineman Josh Ray, running back Saul Armendariz, slot receiver Jerry Jaquez, defensive lineman Oliver Hill, defensive end Cameron Hernandez, Davis at outside linebacker, and middle linebacker Zaeden McPherson.
Second-team selections for Hobbs were: wide receiver Justin Black, offensive lineman Kylar Pickering, defensive lineman Kanyon Johnson, and linebacker Gustavo Diaz-Castro.
And Eagles honorable mentions were: slot receiver Deshawn Franklin, quarterback Owen Callaway, offensive lineman Ayden Kays, wide receiver Isaiah Rodriguez, defensive lineman Zakki Awwad, defensive back Javen Hernandez, defensive back Carlos Jimenez, and defensive lineman Andrew Torres.
For District 3/8-man, Tatum wide receiver Robert Martinez and Coyotes kicker Sami Velasquez were selected to the first-team offense.
Tatum’s Jaisel Esparza made second-team offense at running back and punter.
On second-team defense, Martinez was selected at defensive back, Esparza at linebacker, and Derek Fulce at defensive end.
Denver City joined Lovington and Eunice on the list of local teams that won a district championship this year. The Mustangs won the Region I District 1/3A-1 title by running the table against district opponents.
Explosive Denver City running back Andrew Velasco was named the district’s Most Valuable Player. And Mustangs linebacker Daniel Ceniceros was selected as the district’s defensive MVP.
There were plenty more accolades for the Mustangs after their solid season. First-team selections for Denver City were: running back Jose Velasco, receiver Johnny Martinez, receiver Case McGuire, Ceniceros at tight end, center Toby Espinosa, offensive guard Daniel Vasquez, offensive guard Julian Madrid, offensive tackle Noel Madrid, cornerback Eleazar Sotelo, outside linebacker Abraham Velasco, Madrid at defensive end, Miles Riley at defensive end, and Jose Velasco at inside linebacker.
Second-team honors for Denver City went to: Jonah Escalante at quarterback, Abraham Velasco at running back, Sotelo at receiver, Martinez at cornerback, Samrey Garcia at safety, Kolby Davenport at outside linebacker, Marco Rosas at inside linebacker, Toby Espinoza at defensive line, Luis Marquez at kicker, and Martinez at punter.
For Martinez, that completed an all-district sweep, as he was named for all three phases of the game.
By finishing 11-2 overall, Seminole notched the most victories and the best winning percentage (.846) of any local team. The Indians were 3-1 in Region I District 2/4A-2, good for second place, and they were honored for their solid play.
Topping the list was Seminole quarterback Wyatt Holmstrom being named the district’s Offensive Newcomer of the Year.
First-team selections for the Indians were: wide receiver Caton Cramer, wide receiver Logan McCormick, offensive lineman Brian Peters, utility player Brayden Gonzales, Holmstrom at punter, Kevyn Guffey at defensive end, Jaylen Cottrell at defensive line, Bryan Hernandez at inside linebacker, Rowin Donaldson at outside linebacker, Austin Olivas at defensive back, and Braden Bailey at defensive back.
Second-team honors for Seminole went to: running back Adam Garcia, wide receiver Myles Espino, wide receiver Jordan Garcia, offensive lineman Keaton Gray, offensive lineman Marcelino Olivas, defensive lineman Ryan Sinclair, outside linebacker Creed Carlisle, and defensive back Marco Reyes.
And honorable mentions for the Indians were: wide receiver Stephen Davis, offensive lineman Jose Rosalez, and defensive end Carlos Gonzales.