By Sebastian Noel
For Enchantment Sports
The long offseason, full of breaking news on coaching hires and other tidbits is over. The relaxing is over. Football is here.
And I’m ready.
Which players get me excited ? Let’s look by position.
Jeff Davison (Cleveland) / Chance Harris (Clovis)
Davison took amazing care of the football last year. But can he repeat his amazing 26-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio? If he can, you can pencil the Storm into the championship game, barring major injury.
The Davison-to-Tre Watson connection should arguably be the most potent in the state, slightly edging out La Cueva’s Austin Smith-to-Connor O’Toole hookup that we will see often this season.
Chance Harris is a name you should probably familiarize yourself with. His appearances in Albuquerque are few and far between, so I admit this is based on a small sample size with a hearty helping of anecdotal hypothesizing. But I think Harris has a chance to be the breakout player of the year.
Harris showed flashes of brilliance last season, to go with occasional spells of youth and inexperience. All indications are he had a fantastic summer and is ready to impress. The Clovis Wildcats overall record is something, however, that may not impress you in about six weeks. The Wildcats face Los Lunas and Rio Rancho before a treacherous three-game set against powerful Lubbock teams. There is no doubt Clovis plays the most difficult schedule in the state this year. The Wildcats’ district tilts with Eldorado and La Cueva are also in the Duke City this year, so they don’t catch a break there.
Here’s the good news. They have about 12 different helmets this year. Kids love that. The Clovis Wildcats will be the team around .500 come the end of the year that in reality, is the third or fourth best team in the state. I guarantee whoever draws the Cats in the first round will be crying foul.
Guys at La Cueva not named Connor O’Toole
Conventional wisdom says O’Toole will see plenty of double teams and bracket coverages this year. Who capitalizes? Will it be a breakout year for JaShawn Lowery ? Does Nas Robertson continue his trajectory and get all the single coverage glory?
The stat to watch at La Cueva won’t be O’Toole touchdowns, but rather the touchdowns he creates while commanding so much of the defenses attention.
Dorian Lewis (Cleveland)
I’ve given up trying to get Lewis to stop calling me “sir”. So, instead, I’ve moved onto figuring out if he’s 100 percent.
I was at his scrimmages against Sandia and Piedra Vista, and I came away with a mixed bag. On the field it seemed like he was 100 percent back. But on the sideline, maybe it was closer to 90 percent, just based on flexing of the leg, etc.
But what I do know is this, 90 percent Dorian Lewis and 100 percent Dorian Lewis have one thing in common: they are the best damn running back in the state.
Give me Lewis for 2,000-plus yards, and more importantly give me a healthy Lewis for the playoffs, because I think it yields a blue trophy for the Storm this year.
Noah Woisin (La Cueva)
He’s bigger, stronger and faster than most. He’s a Woisin, what do you expect? He looks more and more like his brother Josh (UNM Lobo football player) everyday. For opposing players, that’s a scary thought.
I really don’t see La Cueva’s vaunted defense missing a beat this year — in any way. That’s no knock on the Bears who graduated, it’s just my immense confidence in this year’s bunch, anchored by Woisin.
Then Brandon Back, coach of the defending champs, dropped this beauty on me during two-a-day practice, “He (Connor O’Toole) might be a better defensive player than receiver in my opinion.”
Let that sink in. The guy with 19 Division I offers might be better on that side of the ball? Back says he’s just mean and loves to hit people on that field.
Sign me up for La Cueva vs. Cleveland, the rematch, in this year’s title game.
And the state’s top 5? Don’t believe everything you read — unless it’s here.
Volcano Vista is a power, but I can’t see the Hawks getting to the title game.
My Top 5:
2) La Cueva
3) Volcano Vista
4) Rio Rancho
Sebastian Noel is a play-by-play announcer for ProView Networks, and also is host of “Local Focus with Sebastian Noel,” airing weeknights at 10 p.m., on ProView. Noel, a frequent contributor to Enchantment Sports, is considered the state’s leading authority on prep football.