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Prep notes: Academy football to go independent

Albuquerque Academy’s football team was so thin with athletes this season that head coach Kevin Carroll didn’t have much company on the sideline.

It’s precisely because of the Chargers’ low numbers that Academy is making a drastic change for 2015.

Academy petitioned the New Mexico Activities Association to leave its district next year (5-5A) and play as an independent, and that request has been approved.

“Numbers have always been an issue for us. There’s not a lot in the pipeline,” said Carroll, Academy’s longtime coach. “We just think that right now, for us, this is the best move we can make.”

Academy long played in the third-largest classification, but the Chargers were moved up to the second-largest class before last season. They finished 3-6.

District 5-5A next fall will be reduced to three schools in football: St. Pius, Grants and Moriarty.

The NMAA made it clear with this latest redistricting, which began this school year, that it wanted to eliminate three-team leagues. But at least for next year, it will just be the Sartans, Pirates and Pintos.

Carroll said Academy has lined up some new schools to replace Moriarty, Grants and St. Pius, and that the Chargers would continue to play just a nine-game schedule.

As far as district balance beyond next season, it is conceivable that a change could be made before the start of the next two-year block, 2016-17/2017-18. Academy going independent could open the door for a team from District 2-5A – Del Norte or Bernalillo – to be moved from that five-team league and into District 5. Then both those districts would have four schools.

NMAA HALL OF FAME: A former executive director of the NMAA is among four inductees into the NMAA’s Hall of Fame.

Dan Salzwedel, the executive director from 1986-2004 and a former coach, athletic director, principal and superintendent, was one of the driving forces behind organizing state basketball at the Pit.

Larry Waters, who achieved enormous success as a boys soccer coach – first at Highland, but mostly at La Cueva before he retired several years ago from coaching – is another inductee.

Also being inducted is U.G. Montgomery, a Des Moines High graduate in 1928 and a five-sport letterman there. He, like Salzwedel, once oversaw the state’s athletics. He was the executive secretary of the New Mexico High School Athletic Association for 22 years.

Angelo DiPaolo spent most of his coaching career in Gallup, in football and track and field. He is also a member of the Navajo Nation Athletic Hall of Fame. He died Nov. 6 of brain cancer. He was 66.

This quartet will be formally inducted on March 12 at the Marriott Pyramid Hotel.

FOOTBALL COACHING OPENINGS: Rio Grande plans to immediately begin its search to replace Pat Quillen. Quillen unexpectedly resigned last week as the Ravens’ head football coach.

Quillen said he is taking a job in the oil industry that he said would pay him $50,000 more a year than his job in Albuquerque Public Schools.

Rio Grande hopes to interview candidates by the middle of January, athletic director Pete Pino said.

• Meanwhile, Hope Christian has made interim coach Gary Beck the full-time coach for 2015, Huskies’ AD Jim Murphy said.

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