By Mickey Winfield, PNT Staff Writer
The first 11 months saw a rather pedestrian year on the sports fields and courts of Roosevelt County — but a historic December to remember made 2008 a very special year.
The year began with a surprising run to the New Mexico Class 3A state baseball championship game at Isotopes Park in Albuquerque in May.
Under the leadership of head coach Arturo Ontiveros, the Rams (23-8) shocked top-seeded St. Michael’s in the state semifinals 16-0, before losing the state championship game against Cobre 5-1.
If you watched an Eastern New Mexico Greyhound football game last Fall, you might think ENMU head coach Mark Ribaudo took a page from the playbook of nearby Big 12 passing powerhouse Texas Tech — in fact, he did.
For the first time in several years, the Greyhounds scrapped their triple option, power-run offense in favor of a wide-open passing offense.
According to Ribaudo, several ENMU coaches spent time with the Texas Tech coaching staff to learn more about installing the spread offense.
A closer look at team statistics over the past two seasons reveals just how dramatic the change was.
• In 2007, the final year of the Greyhounds rushing offense, the ENMU offense completed just 28 passes, while rushing for a season total of 3,444 yards.
• In 2008, the Hounds offense completed 310 passes out of 580 attempted, and rushed for a season total of 310 yards.
The change didn’t pay off in the first season, as the Hounds went 2-9 overall, 0-6 in the Lone Star Conference South, but Ribaudo is committed to making the transition work.
“We are 100 percent committed to (our new offense),” Ribaudo said. “We broke school records in completions and attempts and we’re excited as all get out.”
In late October, in just their second year of existence, the Portales girls soccer team made the 12-team Class 1A-3A state soccer tournament as the 10-seed.
The Lady Rams (8-10) lost their two state first-round games, but head coach Traci Sievers was happy that her young squad made the cut.
“One of our goals at the beginning of the season was to make the playoffs,” Sievers said. “We weren’t sure if that was realistic, but as the season started progressing, I thought we had a good chance.”
But Roosevelt County waited until the final month of the year for its biggest sports story of the year.
The Portales Rams began their 2008 season at midnight in late August. They finished it at Greyhound Stadium with their first New Mexico state football championship in two decades.
The Rams rode an offensive juggernaut through the season, on the way to defeating Lovington in the title game 48-10.
“I’m glad we came out and played our best,” Portales junior Shawn Carrasco said. “I’m going to miss (the 18) seniors. We’ve achieved our goal from the beginning of the year.”
First-year Ram running back Jesus Davalos led Portales in rushing and receiving, gathering 29 touchdowns — 17 rushing and 12 receiving, to go along with 1,632 yards on the ground and 996 yards receiving.
Senior Portales quarterback Michael Trujillo passed for 3,789 yards and 42 touchdowns, including six touchdown passes in the state championship game.
“These guys have worked hard enough to achieve this,” Ram head coach Andy Correll said. “They definitely deserve it.”
Other memorable 2008 moments:
* Clay Stout resigns after his first year as Portales girls basketball coach to take the same job in Texico — less than a month later, he changed his mind and came back to coach the Portales girls.
“In 30 years (of coaching), I’ve never been in this situation before,” Stout said. “They’re both great communities.”
*Elida joined the ranks of New Mexico six-man football. Elida’s first football season ended with a 2-4 record.