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Yodice reveals his midterm grades for metro-area football teams

Volcano Vista’s Jimmy Gallegos, right, catches a pass during his team’s game last month vs. La Cueva. The Hawks are the top metro team at 4-0, though the team’s midseason grade is incomplete. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

With almost three-quarters (17) of our 24 football-playing schools in the metro area having reached the midway point of the regular season, the time has come for Professor Y. to fish out his red pen out of the desk and assign some midterm grades.

Newcomers should heed only one rule: don’t compare your grade to any other team. Everyone’s grade here exists in its own bubble. C-minus is the worst grade on my scale.

ALBUQUERQUE ACADEMY (3-2): The Chargers are most definitely trending in the right direction under new coach Shaun Gehres. It was refreshing on Saturday to see an Academy sideline with so many players in uniform. Grade: B

ALBUQUERQUE HIGH (2-2): The Bulldogs are a whisker from 3-1; for a program with improving numbers, they are probably already looking ahead, and forward, to 2020 when AHS is expected to leave independent status and return to a district. Grade: B-minus

ATRISCO HERITAGE ACADEMY (0-3): The Jaguars, who had one game lost to weather, have yet to find themselves, beyond a fairly competitive first half against Sandia. The offense (23 points in three games) has been largely stagnant and not balanced enough to make headway. Grade: C-minus

BELEN (1-4): The Eagles and new coach Ty House won their opener, but are on a four-game skid as we reach the halfway mark. It’s not so much the losses — Farmington, Artesia, HIghland, Piedra Vista — but the one-sided nature of them that catch my eye. Offense has been sluggish the last several weeks. Grade: C

BERNALILLO (4-1): One of the things Professor Y. admires about the Spartans is that they seem to have reached a stage where they can be counted on to beat the teams they should beat. Bernalillo is getting the job done, and RB Ayden Madrid already has double-digit touchdowns out of the backfield. This last win, over Santa Fe, was its best yet this season. Grade: B

CIBOLA (3-2): Professor Y.’s alma mater has had a respectable first half, and Professor Y. has forgiven crafty Cougars coach Rod Williams for keepng his freshman sensation at QB, Aden Chavez, a secret when we sat down to speak in the preseason. Well played, Mr. Williams! Chavez has been a revelation, and Cibola’s been slightly better than I expected. Can’t penalize them too heavily for losses to La Cueva and Los Lunas. Grade: B

CLEVELAND (4-1): I suspect the Storm — the only 6A power I have yet to see in person — would say they haven’t approached their best football. The lone setback: Franklin, which might be the best team out of El Paso. This offense remains potent (see RB Lewis, Dorian; and QB Davison, Jeff), with several outstanding weapons also contributing, especially receiver Trevon Dennard. Grade: B-plus

DEL NORTE (1-4): Except for the lopsided loss to Volcano Vista, the Knights have had a chance to win three other games, and Professor Y. doesn’t want to mark Del Norte down too badly in this space today. It may still eventually be the class of its district, and get into the playoffs. Grade: C-plus

ELDORADO (3-2): Three wins over teams it’s supposed to beat, sandwiched around two pretty ugly losses. How will the Eagles show in key games in second half against the likes of Clovis and La Cueva? Defense will need to be much better. Grade: B-minus

HIGHLAND (4-1): What’s not to love about the Hornets, a team whose schedule will give them a legitimate chance to win as many seven regular-season games? Solid run game, solid defense, and a veteran group that has a point to prove. Professor Y. is nothing if not sentimental, and this program tugs at my heart strings. This is not our best student at the midway point. But this is far and away my favorite student, and one of the great stories in New Mexico to emerge in the first half. Grade: A-minus

HOPE CHRISTIAN (3-2): The Huskies are quite unlikely to lose again before the playoffs, now that the brutal first half of the schedule (losses to 4A’s top two teams, Portales and Bloomfield) is behind them. Hope will therefore need to find a way to keep its competitive edge in the month of October and into November. The QB/WR combo of Collin Evans/Ryan Cosper has been outstanding. Grade: B

LA CUEVA (3-2): Killer passing game, with the best group of receivers in 6A football. (This isn’t Twitter, but don’t @ me). But the running game … oh boy. That part of the equation is MIA so far. While the Bears can get by on their one dimension against most teams, it’s been a real hindrance in their two losses. Defense remains plenty good enough to keep them in most any game. Grade: B-minus

LOS LUNAS (3-2): We know the Tigers are going to have to figure out this Roswell High problem if they want to win a state championship after the beating the Coyotes put on them nine days ago at Wool Bowl. But, this remains a powerhouse team, extremely talented and equipped to make it to the final day of the season. Grade: B

MANZANO (2-3): There are certainly a couple of pieces of the puzzle that impress, like receiver Austin Erickson and running back Isaiah Hernandez. Defense has been spotty in their more important games, however, and that’s going to need to be tightened up if the Monarchs are to make a run at a playoff berth out of their district, which is less formidable than it was a year ago. Grade: C-plus

MENAUL (4-0): Our only other metro team besides Volcano Vista without a loss, the Panthers — who have been hamstrung by slow starts the last half dozen seasons — are instead enjoying a blazing first half, outscoring its four opponents 184-14. All lights are green right now for the smallest member of our class. Grade: A

MORIARTY (1-4): The young Pintos are a veritable work in progress with new coach Gabe Romero. This won’t be their year, but Moriarty figures to be back. Grade: C

RIO GRANDE (1-4): Points here for the one victory, a road win at Valencia, and there are going to be other chances for victories in the second half. But the truth is, the Ravens were not built to win this fall. Look to the future. Grade: C

RIO RANCHO (3-2): This, I must admit, was one of the most difficult grades to assign. Maybe the most difficult. Give the Rams this: they have recovered extraordinarily well from a horrible start, including a loss to Centennial that the Rams frankly tossed away. They have toppled three ranked teams on consecutive weeks — Clovis, Las Cruces, La Cueva — and carry a ton of momentum headed into brutal District 1. Grade: B

SANDIA (2-3): As you might expect when there’s a new coach, a new philosophy and a new system, there will be some early inconsistencies. Running back LeShawn Joseph has been an exception; he’s had an excellent first half, about as good as any tailback in Class 6A. Grade: C-plus

ST. PIUS (1-3): None of their losses could be considered a real debit, but the Sartans were beaten up pretty badly a couple of times. Plenty of weeks ahead for St. Pius to get the season going downhill in the second half. Grade: B-minus

VALENCIA (0-4): These Jags, like the Atrisco Jags, had a game cancelled on opening night due to lightning in southern New Mexico. It’s been a real struggle for Valencia, which like other teams in our 24-seat classroom (think Valley, think Moriarty) are young and not as varsity savvy as they were a year ago, and thus paying a certain price on the field. Grade: C-minus

VALLEY (0-4): The Vikings have long been one of Professor Y’s favorite programs. But this start isn’t all that surprising, given the vast amount of inexperience on this roster and the question marks that hung over Valley even before the season began. With a roster this green, always better to look at how they perform in the second half. Grade: C-minus

VOLCANO VISTA (4-0): The Hawks have only been tested once, that opening night win over La Cueva, and this group hasn’t been nearly at full strength in the last three weeks as they await the return of quarterback Diego Pavia next week. This is our valedictorian, and yet it feels like an incomplete grade, since they haven’t truly had a chance to submit their best work yet. Grade: A

WEST MESA (1-4): This was always going to be a rebuild season for the Mustangs, and their first half has gone about according to projections. Certainly some promising young players in this program. Give them time. Grade: C


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