There have only been five men to have coached varsity boys basketball at Bernalillo High School.
Isaac Dozal is the sixth.
The former Spartan player recently was hired to coach his alma mater. He replaces Terry Darnell, who retired after last season, his 28th as Bernalillo’s head coach.
“It’s surreal for me right now,” said Dozal, 43, a 1998 Bernalillo High graduate. “History is everything (at Bernalillo). It’s a great honor and it’s a privilege to be in my position.”
Dozal was an assistant coach with Darnell for half a dozen seasons, including state championship seasons in 2004 and 2005.
“It’s kind of weird (talking about) the Bernalillo Spartans without having coach Darnell in the conversation,” Dozal said. “I thought this day would never come where we’d see coach Darnell retiring.”
Dozal played three seasons for Darnell with the Spartans and fully comprehends the program’s meaning.
“It means tradition, it means a community,” he said. “It means everything. People wouldn’t understand unless you’d gone through the program. It’s a great honor to go back and teach these kids.”
MANZANO BASEBALL: Chris Mondragon has two decades of being an assistant baseball coach in the metro area.
Now he has a program to call his own.
Manzano his hired the 42-year-old Mondragon to take over the Monarchs from Tim Campos, who resigned after last season.
“The major thing is, I think it’s a great opportunity for me to exploit all the knowledge I’ve gained over the last 20 years being an assistant,” Mondragon said.
He has coached at Oñate (now Organ Mountain), Bernalillo, Los Lunas, Valencia and Sandia under both John Gunther and Chris Eaton.
For the last two seasons, he has been Matt McCoy’s assistant coach at St. Pius, which reached its state championship game in each of the last two seasons.
“I just want to put my (stamp) on all the hard work I’ve done,” Mondragon said.
And with the Sartans surging, Mondragon said this was the right time to seek out a head coaching position.
“Seemed like a good time for me to branch out,” he said.
ARMENTA IN SHOWCASE: La Cueva quarterback Aidan Armenta has been selected to play in this year’s Blue-Grey All-American Bowl.
There are three such games in December and January, and it was not immediately known which game Armenta would appear in. There are games Dec. 12 and 19 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and there is a third game at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, on Jan. 23.
The 6-foot-3, 190-pound QB will be a senior this fall. He did not return a message for comment on Wednesday.
He is expected to be one of the top QBs returning in New Mexico this season. He threw for nearly 2,700 yards and 28 touchdowns (against six interceptions) for La Cueva as a junior.
THIS AND THAT: Cleveland High junior linebacker Stratton Shufelt has been named one of the country’s Rising Stars of the Year by USA Today. Shufelt already has seven Football Bowl Subdivision or Football Championship Subdivision football offers: Colorado, New Mexico, UTEP, New Mexico State, Connecticut, Idaho State and Sam Houston State.