Feature photo: Cibola freshman quarterback Aden Chavez is Dreamstyle Remodeling/Enchantment Sports Metro Player of the Week.
By Mark Smith
Editor in Chief
He is Cibola High’s quarterback of the future.
As well as the school’s quarterback of the present.
And, in many ways, Aden Chavez is the Cougars’ quarterback of the past.
“He’s had the benefit of seeing his two older brothers, and saw them have struggles,” says John Chavez, Aden’s father. “He’s learned so much from them. He grew from their successes and from their past mistakes.
“He learned at an early age how to be a leader.”
As for the present, Aden led the Cougars to a 40-35 win in last week’s season opener against Sandia.
Chavez was 32-of-38 for 428 yards and six touchdowns.
For his brilliant performance, Aden Chavez is the 2019 season debut winner of the Dreamstyle Remodeling/Enchantment Sports Metro Player of the Week.
And it’s hard to imagine it will be the last such honor for Chavez.
As for that future quarterback deal? Well, Chavez is a freshman. The Sandia game was his first with Cibola.
On the field of play, at least.
“My brothers brought me to the school all the time, to all the games, all all the events,” he says of older siblings, Logan and Gannon – both also starting quarterbacks for the Cougars in recent years.
“I’ve grown up around the program and (Cibola) coach (Rod) Williams. He has always been a teacher, ever since my brothers were here. I’ve learned so much being around the program for so long.”
But a freshman starting quarterback? That’s not something you see every weekend in New Mexico prep football. A quarterback needs to a leader, but a freshman needs to listen and learn from older teammates.
That dynamic, however, is no problem for Chavez and the Cougars, who play host to Las Cruces Onate on Friday at 7 p.m., at Nusenda Community Stadium.
“He knows what his role is,” Williams says. “He’s not coming out here to boss people around, ‘You do this and do that.’ He listens to the seniors, but he also gives feedback.
“If a receiver runs the wrong route, he finds them and tells them, ‘Here’s where I need you, based on my timing and my feet,’ and things like that.
“His leadership comes from listening and learning and knowing when to speak.”
Williams said Chavez, who quarterbacked the YAFL Cougars to the Super Bowl last year, “has been coming to Cibola High games since he was 9 years old; since I’ve been here.”
“He’s been a Cibola Cougar for a long time. A lot of times, he tells me about some of the players of the past. He knows them by their numbers. He’s been groomed to be a Cibola Cougar.”
And how do his teammates feel about the 6-foot-4, 175-pound Chavez – a kid who has carried a 4.0 grade point average throughout his days at James Monroe Middle School and Seven Bar Elementary School?
“He’s never been like a freshman,” says senior receiver Dylan Harkness. “He may be a freshman in age, but the way he reads plays and the decisions he makes on the field, he doesn’t act or look like a freshman.
“He so smart and is just super confident in everything he does. He’s a natural leader, too. You don’t see that often as a freshman.”
Williams says Enrique Martinez, a senior offensive and defensive tackle, is one of the team leaders and has really taken Chavez under his wing.
“Of course, he has a lot to learn, but he can teach us, too,” Martinez says. “We’re all brothers on this team.”
Junior running back Slayd Campos said he and Chavez “communicate a lot in the backfield” and he is very impressed with how heady Chavez is.
“And he is very modest and responsible about learning his plays,” Campos says, “and he has the confidence a quarterback needs to have.”
“But he is really humble,” says dad John Chavez, which was evident as soon as Enchantment Sports presented him the Player of the Week award, and he immediately asked if he could get one for each of his teammates.
“It’s all about the team,” Aden says. “First off, I have such a good line. That’s the reason I’m not so roughed up. They are always there to protect me and even to guide me. That a huge part for me not getting hurt or taking a lot of shots.
“They block and work so hard on every single play. They are leaders and try to encourage me, and it makes me work harder.”
Aden is also a standout basketball and baseball player as well as a champion archer. He said he will probably play basketball for the Cougars after football season.
“He played for one of the best basketball club team for four months,” says John, who has been an educator and football coach for more than two decades, and is activities director at Bernalillo High.
“He was actually getting contacted by one of the top AAU club teams out of Phoenix on Instagram, and we contemplated moving out there where he could play on a bigger stage.
“But he said, ‘Dad, I want to stay here. I want a chance to be a four-year starter.’
“He has always wanted to be a Cibola Cougar.”
Mark Smith has worked in New Mexico sports media for more than four decades, and is one of the most decorated sports journalists in state history. Smith has won more than 30 combined awards in print, television and radio. He is the editor in chief of Enchantment Sports. Contact him at mark.enchantmentsportsNM@gmail.com.
The Metro Player of the Week feature is chosen by Enchantment Sports with the assistance of ProView Networks, and sponsored by Dreamstyle Remodeling. Each week, we will feature a top-notch athlete from the area.
To make a nomination, email EnchantmentSportsNM@gmail.com.