ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Cleveland’s Romell Jordan may be the most familiar name among the high-profile prep football players in the Albuquerque metro area this season, but he is far from the only one.
Just at the tailback position, which is Jordan’s regular spot, there is quality depth. And Jordan, oddly enough, may not even be the leading yardage guy in his own city.
Rio Rancho’s Ulises Astorga had a terrific 2011 — 1,680 yards and 22 touchdowns — and was one of the more underrated talents at that position last year.
Like Jordan, Astorga is not huge (5-foot-8, 180) but Astorga is exceptionally strong for someone his size, and, like Jordan, possesses breakaway speed.
Eldorado, La Cueva and Highland also have backs with game-breaking ability. For the Bears, it’s Michael Rose. For the Eagles, 5-5 George Pacheco. And for the Hornets, Mustafa Mudada (who’s got family ties to former Highland and Nebraska star Bobby Newcombe).
The area’s premier power back can be found at St. Pius, in the form of 210-pound bulldozer T.J. Sanchez. He scored 17 touchdowns last season.
Cibola’s Cory Ross could be much like Astorga was last season, a player with great numbers who flies under the radar. Hope Christian’s Skylar Martin could dominate at the 3A level.
Behind center, 6-3 Rio Rancho sophomore Easton Bruere is already a rising star, and he hasn’t even thrown an official varsity pass. With his group of receivers, Bruere should post boffo numbers.
Highland’s Bryan Medina, like Bruere, comes highly regarded and is surrounded by top-notch skill-position athletes. Ditto Sandia QB Craig Coffman, Valley QB Bo Coleman and Los Lunas QB Chris Wisneski, all among the elite at that position.
Manzano and Cleveland both open with untested junior quarterbacks — Kian Homme for the Storm (replacing the 5A player of the year Cole Gautsche) and Angel Gonzales for the Monarchs (replacing Quavshaun Branch).
On the perimeter, Chris Thompson is a receiver you’ve probably not heard much about, mostly because he plays at La Cueva, which didn’t build a reputation on passing-game prowess. But the 6-3 Thompson gives the Bears a genuine deep threat.
Among Rio Rancho’s deep corps of receivers, Austin Patterson could be the biggest game-changer for the high-scoring Rams. Same goes for Sandia’s Brenden Barker, Manzano’s Skyler Walker and possibly Highland’s Rashad Ortiz.
Among the big boys, top linemen include Cleveland defensive tackle Desmond Branch, plus offensive linemen Robert Salgado of Rio Rancho, Brandon Rael of Manzano and John Boone of La Cueva.
One of the premier defensive names is La Cueva’s Calvin Allen at end. The 6-6 senior already has given a commitment to Arizona.
Others include Cleveland safety Steven Steele, Volcano Vista linebacker Josh Lubold, La Cueva linebacker Chris Loidolt, St. Pius linebacker JoJo Saiz and Rio Rancho defensive back Dallin Brady.
— This article appeared on page D5 of the Albuquerque Journal