To hear LeDarrius Cage tell it, one of the important assists in him becoming the new head football coach at Valencia High School originated from an unlikely source:
Los Lunas High boys basketball coach Travis Julian.
Once, Julian was on an interview committee that talked to Cage about a job. He didn’t get it. And he was curious why.
“What was I missing?” Cage said he asked Julian. “He told me to be more elaborate, that all (my) answers were good, they just weren’t in-depth enough.”
He must have found the right formula, because Cage, previously an assistant at Class 6A state champion Cleveland, was named Friday as the successor to Wes Shank at Valencia.
“The community is good, they’re close-knit, they just need a guy that can come in and build a culture the school needs,” said Cage, 33.
Cage worked with the Storm’s wide receivers last season, and he also was the freshman offensive coordinator. He also coached under former Cleveland coach Heath Ridenour in the fall of 2021, which like last year was a title season for the Storm.
Cage is familiar with football in Valencia County. He played at Los Lunas High (and collegiately at New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell), and coached with the Jaguars from 2016 through the short 2021 spring pandemic season.
Cage said he was eager to become a head coach. He had interviewed for football openings at Los Lunas and Capital, and at Belen for boys basketball.
Valencia was 4-7 last season, losing in the first round of the 4A playoffs to Aztec.
CROW GOING HOME: Cage is not the only Cleveland assistant that’s leaving the Storm. Greg Crow, 35, is returning to his alma mater to coach the Ruidoso Warriors.
Ruidoso was last season’s Class 3A state champion; coach Kief Johnson retired after the season, although he will remain on for at least another year as Ruidoso’s athletic director.
Crow, an offensive assistant at Cleveland who worked with quarterbacks and running backs, like Cage coached with Ridenour in the fall of 2021 and Garza last season. He was coaching at Ruidoso for 10 years prior to coming north to Rio Rancho.
“It’s very humbling,” Crow said. “I have huge shoes to come in and fill.”
Working at Cleveland, Crow said, was immeasurably beneficial.
“Going up there, I almost feel like I got a masters or a Doctorate in coaching high school football in New Mexico,” he said.