ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — One of the wonderful things about changing scheduling blocks in high school football is the abundance of fresh matchups for the next couple of years.
The 2014 schedules are out for the eight schools in the Rio West area. A quick breakdown of each school’s slate (remember, the old Class 5A is now Class 6A, and the old 4A is the new 5A):
New coach Trent Spencer gets two home games at the start, with Taos and Gallup, but then two tough road games against Albuquerque Academy and St. Pius, two old basketball rivals.
The Spartans’ district, 2-5A (formerly 2-4A), has a new member in Del Norte this year. The Knights replace Santa Fe, which was bumped up to Class 6A.
Del Norte visits Bernalillo in the league opener Oct. 10. There is also the key game versus Los Alamos, which is also at home, on Halloween night.
The Cougars, coming off a surprising playoff berth last season in Class 5A, open Friday, Aug. 29, against Albuquerque High at Community Stadium. That is followed by a tough trip to Clovis.
And then Cibola settles into a Thursday regimen for the next month.
The Cougars will face Valley, La Cueva, Manzano and Highland on successive Thursday nights.
Cibola’s District 1-6A opener puts it against nemesis Volcano Vista on Oct. 10 at Community Stadium.
Cibola arguably has the toughest road of any of the teams in 1-6A. The Cougars will have to face Rio Rancho and Cleveland in back-to-back weeks before closing against 1-6A newcomer Santa Fe, which will be the weak member of the league.
The Storm has a very intruiguing schedule in 2014.
It begins with a Saturday night road game, Aug. 30, at Manzano at Community Stadium.
The meat of Cleveland’s schedule is demanding. The Storm will have home games against Clovis and Sandia, then a road game against Eldorado and star quarterback Zach Gentry, who recently gave a commitment to Texas.
The Storm closes the season with three tough assignments in District 1-6A, against Volcano Vista, Cibola and Rio Rancho.
The annual showdown game against the Rams is at Cleveland this year, on Friday, Nov. 7. When the two play at Rio Rancho, it is held on a Thursday night.
The Rams face a daunting schedule this upcoming fall. They’ll open at home Aug. 29 with Valley, which was 10-0 in the regular season last year although the Vikings were ravaged by graduation.
After a trip to El Paso, it gets really interesting for Rio Rancho.
The Rams, for the first time ever, will square off with La Cueva. The two longtime scrimmage partners are meeting on Sept. 12 at Wilson Stadium.
Then defending Class 5A state champion Las Cruces pays a visit, and after that it’s a road game at Clovis.
One of the most demanding of all the Rams’ games is the matchup Oct. 3, at home against Atrisco Heritage. The veteran and athletic Jaguars are poised for a big season.
Rio Rancho has district road games against Volcano Vista and Cleveland.
The Sartans’ schedule could help them get back into the postseason this year. It is not overly taxing.
The opener is Aug. 28 against Del Norte at Community Stadium.
Then come three straight home games, against Los Alamos, Gallup and Bernalillo, followed by the annual clash against St. Michael’s, this year in Santa Fe.
After taking on Moriarty in the District 5-5A opener Oct. 23, the Sartans visit Albuquerque Academy – which is now a district opponent – at noon on Saturday, Nov. 1.
The Vikings, coming off a spectacular 2013, will face challenges as they rebuild in 2014. Their opener, at Rio Rancho, won’t be easy.
And Valley faces some strong tests in the nondistrict.
That includes a Week 2 meeting against Eldorado, plus games with playoff teams Cibola and Sandia.
The District 5-6A opener is Oct. 9 at West Mesa. Valley meets Atrisco Heritage the next week at Community Stadium.
The Hawks usually are given a tough schedule, and that’s the case again this year.
They’ll open with one of their real problem rivals, Sandia, on Aug. 30 at Community Stadium in the middle of a summer Saturday afternoon. The Matadors have given Volcano Vista fits of late.
Next are home games with Manzano and 5A champion Las Cruces, followed by a brutal two-game road stretch against Eldorado and Atrisco Heritage.
In ultra-competitive District 1-6A, the Hawks open with Cibola on Oct. 10, then face Rio Rancho and Cleveland.
The Mustangs take on former district rival Highland in their opener, which is also the 2014 season opener in the state. It’s set for Wednesday night, Aug. 27, at Community Stadium.
After welcoming Valencia in Week 2, West Mesa goes on the road to face Eldorado and Manzano, and Volcano Vista is also part of the nondistrict schedule.
The District 5-6A opener is Oct. 9, against Valley.