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Check out key prep football games for ’15

A look at some of the projected highlights of the 2015 metro football schedule:

Week 1

Albuquerque High showed dramatic improvement last year; how far have the Bulldogs come in the offseason? We’ll find out in the final game of the week, a late Saturday matchup with Cibola.

Defending 6A state champion Rio Rancho opens with Valley. Artesia is at Belen as the Eagles try to get at least some payback after losing to the Bulldogs in last year’s Class 5A final.

The season opener is on a Wednesday with two strong 6A entries, Volcano Vista and Sandia, meeting at Community Stadium.

Week 2

Clovis and Las Cruces both head to the metro; the Wildcats are against Cibola, while the Bulldawgs – coming off what for them was a disappointing 2014 – have a Saturday afternoon meeting with La Cueva. Valley-Eldorado could prove to be pretty entertaining, as well.

Week 3

La Cueva makes its first-ever regular-season visit to Rio Rancho to face the Rams.

Valencia County’s trio – Belen, Los Lunas and Valencia – have tough road trips at Farmington, Goddard and Artesia, respectively.

Of note outside the metro area: Mayfield visits Carlsbad as the Bradley brothers, Mike and Gary, match wits.

Week 4

Rio Rancho and Cleveland hit the highway – the Rams to Las Cruces, the Storm to Clovis.

Locally, Eldorado and Volcano Vista meet, and there’s a potentially intriguing matchup between Manzano and West Mesa.

Week 5

No question that Cleveland’s visit to Wilson Stadium to face Sandia should be the premier game of the week.

Clovis’ visit to Rio Rancho figures to be one of the highlights, as well as Eldorado going to Mayfield.

Miyamura, one of last year’s surprise teams in 5A, is at St. Pius on a Saturday morning. The Patriots eked out a contentious three-point win over the Sartans in Gallup last season.

Week 6

New Carlsbad coach Gary Bradley makes his only visit to Albuquerque as the Cavemen meet Sandia on Saturday at Wilson Stadium.

The 2014 showdown between Eldorado and Cleveland was unquestionably the game of the year. No Zach Gentry this year, however, as the host Storm wants to avenge a brutal 57-56 loss.

Mayfield is in town to face Manzano.

Week 7

A potentially key game between Albuquerque High and Atrisco Heritage looms here, especially if the Bulldogs’ forward progress continues.

There are several great rivalry games with Cibola-Volcano Vista, La Cueva-Eldorado and Sandia-Manzano.

Week 8

Valley-Atrisco Heritage, more or less, has determined the District 5-6A champ the past three years, but will it have an impact on the standings this year?

Eldorado takes on Sandia in Week 8 and Volcano Vista visits Rio Rancho. In 5A, Valencia travels to Belen in a pivotal district contest.

Del Norte’s trip to Española Valley could amount to a district championship game in 2-5A.

Week 9

District 1-6A has key games with Rio Rancho-Cibola and Cleveland-Volcano Vista.

Belen is at Los Lunas, and Centennial travels north to take on Valencia.

Week 10

Cibola throttled Cleveland in last year’s playoffs with the Storm, a No. 5 seed, making an unexpectedly early exit. Cleveland’s returners probably have been thinking about this rematch for a while.

In Las Cruces, Belen takes on Centennial; the Eagles beat the Hawks in November’s 5A state semifinals.

Week 11

This year’s Cleveland-Rio Rancho showdown is on the Rams’ field and could be a District 1-6A championship game. This game typically has been on a Thursday night when it’s been at Rio Rancho, but officials are going to stage it on a Friday, then spend hours afterward getting ready for state cross-country the next morning.

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