By Kevin Wilson
CMI staff writer
There will be a few Clovis Christian students on the sidelines wearing Melrose’s maroon uniforms, but it would be a stretch to call them Bugles or Eagleoes, or mark it as the end of Clovis Christian School football.
This season will be the first year of a combined effort between the Eagles and the Buffaloes, who are taking between two and four players that otherwise faced the prospect of not playing football at all due to low numbers.
“We’re just in between kids,” said CCS Athletic Director Wayne Anderson, who noted that no other sport will be affected and the Eagles will field six-man football on the junior high level. “We’ve got a bunch of kids coming up. After a while, we should be back on our own.
For now, it’s a small injection into the eight-man program at Melrose. Football coach Dickie Roybal only knows of four potential Clovis Christian students coming on board, and said it will likely be fewer.
“Two bodies is huge for a school our size,” Roybal said.
Anderson said the kids will usually be taken to Melrose to practice, but will have a day or two during the week when they just do workouts at CCS.
The merger shows the willingness of regional schools to lend a helping hand, but also how quickly fortunes can change in small school football.
Just three seasons ago, the Eagles and the Buffaloes were each hoisting blue trophies as state champions — Melrose its third-consecutive in eight-man, the Eagles their first in school history while competing in six-man. And two years ago, both teams took home red trophies as state runnersup.
But both teams took heavy graduation losses, and the young squads that remained suffered heavy losses on the field. The Buffaloes were 2-8 last year, while the Eagles squeezed into the six-man playoffs but were defeated by New Mexico School For the Deaf 64-7 to finish at 2-7.
“Clovis Christian just wanted their kids to play,” Melrose Superintendent Jamie Widner said. “I think it’s going to be a good thing for all of us.”
Roybal understands how existing Melrose players could have taken umbrage to potentially losing spots to Clovis Christian transfers, but said the kids have actually been receptive — because it gives them a deeper bench and gives bonafide starters at some positions where they were deficient.
“We’re going to go year-to-year and see how it works,” Roybal said. “If it doesn’t work out this year, we’ll do something different. We’re only three weeks into practices, and if it keeps up like this, I think we could continue to do it.”