ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Blue trophies have been hoisted and the clock on the New Mexico high school football season has hit triple zero. Now it is time to look back at the 2021 season and hand out some awards. Football Friday Night has named a coach and player of the year for every class, and has also revealed the winner of this year’s spirit stick.
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In the top class of the state, it should come as no surprise that the coach of the year award goes to Heath Ridenour of the Cleveland Storm. Ridenour led his squad to a perfect 13-0 season that ended in a state title.
There were two players that stood out above the rest in class 6-A, and they will share the title of player of the year — Rio Rancho running back Zach Vigil and Cibola QB Aden Chavez. Vigil was a key piece in the Rams’ offense that made it all the way to the state championship. The senior running back ran for 1,583 yards this season on more than 9 yards per carry and 158 yards per game. He also had 30 touchdowns and over 2,000 all-purpose yards. Chavez led a passing attack for the Cougars that was one of the best in New Mexico. The junior quarterback threw for a state-high 3.075 yards and had 32 touchdowns. Chavez also picked up an additional two TDs on the ground.
The winner of this year’s spirit stick is Rio Rancho. Many schools had the chance to compete for the coveted stick, but in the end, it’s the Rams taking it home — winning by over 200 votes.
In class 5-A, the coach of the year award goes to another man behind an undefeated state championship — Los Lunas’ Greg Hennington. In his first year as head coach of the Tigers, Hennington led his Tigers to a 13-0 season and capped off the 2021 season with the first state title in program history.
The 5-A player of the year award goes to the man leading the state champion offense — Los Lunas quarterback Paul Ciermans. The Tigers QB was an absolute menace with his legs this season. in 2021, Ciermans was the definition of dual-threat accounting for 40 total touchdowns — 20 through the air and 20 on the ground. He racked up 1,544 yards on the ground, averaging 10.5 yards per carry and 118.8 yards per game.
Lovington’s Anthony Gonzales is this year’s class 4-A coach of the year. Gonzales took his Wildcats all the way to the state championship and brought the blue trophy back to the blue turf. This is Lovington’s first state title since 2011.
What team? Wildcats! Lovington sweeps the class 4-A awards as WR/DB Isaac Hinson is named player of the year. Hinson had a solid senior campaign with 19 total touchdowns and over 1,100 all-purpose yards. On defense, he had 108 total tackles and 5 interceptions.
Robertson won the class 3-A title, and its coach, Leroy Gonzales, has won coach of the year. This is the second state title for Gonzales, but he says that this one is extra special. “It meant a lot, I mean we didn’t play, we didn’t play last year, we didn’t play that spring season. It’s special man, this is a special team, especially with Matthew. Him and my son were managers on that 13 team and I remember them asking me ‘Hey coach are we going to play in a state championship?’ and I look at them now and I say yeah, we, we did it.”
Winning a championship doesn’t come without leadership. This year’s 3-A player of the year goes to the captain behind Roberson’s winning season, Matthew Gonzales. The quarterback and defensive back went out with a bang in the final game of his high school career, as the senior had three rushing touchdowns on offense and picked off three passes on defense.
The Cardinals of Eunice were flying high this year thanks in part to head coach, Greg Jackson — the class 2-A coach of the year. Jackson led the Cardinals to a 9-3 season capped off by a state championship.
Possibly one of the most underrated players in the state, senior offensive lineman from Jal, Roger Carreon, has been named the class 2-A player of the year. Cerreon is set to continue his football career at the next stage — division I Boise State.
The 8-man coach of the year goes to Brent Satterwhite from Tatum. Satterwhite led the Coyotes to a 9-1 record, while being unbeaten in district play, and a state championship.
Tatum is also being represented in the play of the year award as it belongs to Hayden Mullins. The senior played both ways for the Coyotes and racked up some impressive stats. In his final season, Mullins tallied 26 total touchdowns and 1,300 all-purpose yards.
Gateway Christian coach, Shaun Wigley, brought back a sixth blue trophy to the Warriors, and will now bring back the 6-Man coach of the year award. Wigley led his team to a perfect 10-0 record.
The quarterback behind Gateway Christian’s perfect season, Hurley Breedyk, is the 6-A player of the year. Breedyk finished the season with 33 touchdowns and 1,200 yards passing.