By Mickey Winfield: PNT staff writer
A familiar face returned to the Greyhound Stadium sidelines Saturday for the first time in more than a year as coach of the Eastern New Mexico University football alumni team.
After the game, a 28-20 loss for the alumni, former ENMU defensive coordinator and former Portales High School head coach Glenn Johnson reflected on returning to his roots as a football coach, if even for one game, and on the Rams’ remarkable season last fall.
“It was a tremendous feeling. It was a tremendous ball game,” Johnson said about the alumni game. “I really enjoyed it and I loved being out there in that atmosphere again … It was probably one of the biggest highlights in my career.”
Greyhound football coach Mark Ribaudo was also happy to work with his former colleague and longtime friend.
“It wasn’t really going against coach ‘J’,” Ribaudo said. “I was just tickled to have all those alumni out there with him. I knew he was having fun, and I was glad they did so well, it was more of coaching with him again, I felt good about the whole day and I was really glad to see him out there on the gridiron again.”
It has been a little over a year since Johnson resigned as Portales head football coach after seven seasons. In that time Johnson led the Rams to an 8-3 record in 2000 and a trip to the state championship game in 2002.
This year he attended the Ram football games as a fan and watched with pride as the Rams marched to the Class 3A state championship game.
“It was great to see those young men accomplish the things that they did this year,” Johnson said. “They’re a tremendous bunch and they really did some great things to put themselves in a really great situation.”
Johnson’s successor is Andy Correll.
“We’re in the business for the kids, to see those young men be as successful as they were — my hats off to them and the coaching staff and the things that they accomplished,” Johnson said. “Andy is a very good football coach and a very good man. We’ve always respected one another and it’s been a good time to see him and his staff have the success that they’ve had.”
The Portales Ram track and field team is now the recipient of Johnson’s teaching and coaching skills, entering his ninth season as the Rams track coach.
“Right now we’re pretty pleased,” Johnson said. “Very pleased as a matter of fact. We’ve got a bunch of young men that are working really hard and doing an excellent job. We’ve even got some seniors out that haven’t run in the past and they’re really working out.”
The former football coach still stays involved with all Portales sports, including girls basketball where his youngest daughter, sophomore Tara Johnson, helped get the Lady Rams to their seventh consecutive 3A state championship contest earlier this month.
“It’s just been tremendous as a dad to be a part of that, and sit and watch and see her accomplish the things that she has. And then of course the coaching side (of me) comes out and we’re looking for bigger and better things from her.”