From the Sidelines: Introductions in order for county preps’ opponents

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Last week, we went over the changes for county prep teams in their new classification, Class 5A (which is really just Class 4A) and its new league, District 3-5A.
The old District 3-5A (when it was District 3-4A) consisted of Las Cruces’ newest school Centennial, as well as Deming, Chaparral and Santa Teresa. With Deming being bumped up to Class 6A and the elimination of three-team districts by the New Mexico Activities Association, it was a natural that the three remaining schools be paired up with Valencia County’s three high schools.
After all, Los Lunas had spent time in the southern district with Las Cruces, Mayfield, Alamogordo and Gadsden in Class 5A as little as four years ago. And Belen had been paired in the old District 3-4A with Deming.
Here’s a little bit on each school.
Centennial, the fourth high school built by the Las Cruces Public Schools, opened in 2012. The school’s three-year average, the attendance count the NMAA used to determine the split between Classes 6A and 5A, had the school at 1,338 — just eight students away from being bumped up to Class 6A. The school is growing rapidly and the school is likely to be reclassified as a 6A schools when the NMAA revisits realignment in two years.
The Hawks are excelling at all sports, particularly football, boys basketball and both soccer programs. Los Lunas handled the Hawks fairly easily in last year’s 4A playoffs, winning 51-14. But Centennial, who won the district last season continues to improve under coach Aaron Ocampo and their wide-open offense is a tough assignment. All of Centennial’s team sports made it to playoffs last season — with boys hoops making it all the way to the Final Four and softball making the winner’s bracket semifinals before bowing out in their next game.
Santa Teresa and Chaparral are part of the Gadsden Independent Schools in southern Doña Ana County.
Santa Teresa, the most populous of the two schools, with an average of 1,271 students, opened in 1994.
The Desert Warriors best sports have been baseball and basketball. Santa Teresa won the Class 4A title in 2012 under coach Bob Hack, a highly regarded coach in the south who coached at Deming and several El Paso area schools. The baseball team also made the Final Four, defeating both Valencia and Los Lunas along the way in 2013. The softball team made a Final Four appearance last season, defeating the Tigers in Los Lunas in the first round.
Chaparral opened in 2007. The Lobos’ athletic programs have not enjoyed a lot of success, except for the boys soccer team, which won the Class 4A title in 2013. The football team has only won nine games in seven years of varsity play. Like their former district mates Deming, both Santa Teresa and Chaparral tend to have trouble getting large numbers of athletes out for sports, due in part to the rural nature of the areas the schools are in.

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