Football coaches tie together Taos, Robertson
The ties between the Taos and Las Vegas Robertson football programs go beyond just being former District 2-3A foes as well as the only Northern teams left in the state football playoffs.
There is a direct connection between the coaching staffs of both program. Current Robertson head coach Leroy Gonzalez coached one year at Memorial Middle School in 2002, the feeder program for then-head coach Art Abreu Sr., now an assistant coach at Taos. Gonzalez joined the staff a year after Robertson reached the 2001 Class 3A championship game, which the Cardinals lost 59-3 to Lovington.
Gonzalez moved to the high school level the next year when Chad Roanhaus took over for the senior Abreu in August of 2003 and became the defensive coordinator. He helped Robertson become a 3A power in that time, as the program won state titles in 2005 and 2006 and reached the 3A title game in 2007.
After a two-year stint as the defensive coordinator at New Mexico Highlands University in 2008, Gonzalez returned to the program as the defensive coordinator for a year before taking on his current position in 2010.
• • •
Meanwhile, Abreu Sr. found his way to Taos to coach under his son, Art Abreu Jr., in 2015, which was a homecoming for him because he is a 1977 Taos graduate. He also coached his son at Robertson from 1999-2001, and they were a part of the 3A title loss. So, you can imagine the satisfaction the two gained in beating the Wildcats 55-7 in the 4A quarterfinals on Nov. 17.
• • •
Robertson’s win over top-seeded Albuquerque Hope Christian in the 3A semifinals sends the Cardinals to the state championship game for the fourth year in a row. That ties them with several other schools for the fourth-longest championship appearance streak on the all-time list, the most recent of which came from Eunice and Artesia.
Eunice also made its fourth straight trip to the finals in this past weekend’s 2A bracket, while Artesia had its active run snapped with a semifinal loss in the 5A playoffs Friday.
This is the 16th time a team has reached the championship game four years in a row. There are only three that have gone on longer; Jal made five consecutive 2A finals from 1970-74; Clovis went to six big-school title games between 1980-85 and Animas holds the state record with seven straight championship appearances — and seven consecutive championships — from 1984-1990.
• • •
Basketball season officially gets underway this week, and Academy for Technology and the Classics will introduce a new girls assistant coach in Nancy Davis, a 1994 Santa Fe High graduate. She also is the mother of 2015 Santa Fe High graduate Kayla Herrera, who is a junior guard at Fort Lewis College.
• • •
Since we’re speaking about Fort Lewis women’s basketball, the Skyhawks are off to a 3-2 start thanks, in part, to a strong contingent of New Mexico players. The program counts seven players from the state on its roster, including Herrera and 2016 Española Valley grad Kaitlin Romero. Herrera leads the team in rebounding with a 7.6-per-game average while also scoring 9.8 points per contest — good for third on the team — while Romero averages 4.4 points per game coming off the bench.
Also on the team is freshman Alyssa Adams, a 2018 Moriarty grad who is scoring 6.8 points per game; Tanisha Begay, a sophomore from Shiprock who is averaging 5.4 points per game; Hannah Valencia, who graduated from Albuquerque Hope Christian in 2017 and averaging 3.8 points per game; senior forward Alyssa Yocky, a 2015 Albuquerque La Cueva graduate who is second on the team in scoring at a 14.4 PPG clip; and Kalian Mitchell, a 2018 Tohatchi graduate.
• • •
Don’t look now, but Bill Moore is a little closer to his old stomping grounds.
The grizzled baseball coach who managed the Santa Fe Fuego to the 2014 Pecos League championship was named manager of the White Sands Pupfish last week. It’s his fourth stop in seven years as a skipper in the independent league, of which Santa Fe became a member in 2012.
Moore was the first Fuego manager in team history, leading the club to the title in its third season and back to cusp of the playoffs in 2015. The Fuego eventually qualified for the postseason but Moore abruptly resigned after a feud he had with several players just days before the end of the regular season.
He then managed the expansion Garden City Wind in 2016, leading the team to its only playoff appearance. He took over the Bakersfield Train Robbers the following year, then led the Tucson Saguaros to the Pecos League playoffs as the Southern Division champions last year.
He has his work cut out for him in Alamogordo. The Pupfish were atrocious last summer, finishing with a league-worst 7-51 record and is just 19-101 the last two years. White Sands has a .395 winning percentage in its history, finishing above .500 twice in its eight years.