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Female kicker for Dons debuts

September 3, 2018

It was 15 years ago when the West Las Vegas football program made history, as Vanessa Lucero scored what is believed to be the first touchdown by a female player in the state and launched her into the national spotlight

Now, the Dons have a female kicker looking to make more history. Junior Cameron Sandoval is on the roster as a kicker, while she doubles as a girls soccer player.

Adrian Gonzales, West Las Vegas head coach, said the team was in need of a kicker, and Sandoval expressed interest.

“She said, ‘I’ll kick for you,’ and at first, we all laughed it off,” Gonzales said. “But it became apparent to both sides this was serious. So, we went with it.”

Sandoval started working out with the team last Monday and got her first shot to kick in Thursday’s 56-46 loss to Santa Rosa, missing on three extra-point attempts. Gonzales said some of the issues were timing as well as protection issues, but he is committed to making the kicking arrangement work.

“This is real new for us, real new,” Gonzales said. “We just need to shore up our point-after kicks, and we’re trying to find any way we can get better at it.”

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What club baseball is doing to Little League, the Northern New Mexico Children’s Football League is doing to YAFL.

Still in its relative adolescence, the league kicked off its latest season two weeks ago with opening ceremonies at Ivan Head Stadium. League founder and executive director Zeke Villegas said approximately 10,000 people participated in opening day activities at multiple venues around town.

Founded as a nonprofit alternative to YAFL, the NNMCFL has flourished since it first started a few years ago. It offers football and cheer teams in several different age groups and bills itself as growth opportunity by, when possible, playing games outside the Santa Fe area, namely Rio Rancho and Albuquerque.

The rapid growth of the league is easy to explain. Villegas said it has tapped into the local full-contact scene and simultaneously drawn a significant number of players away from the traditional league by simply changing the narrative toward stiffer competition and a new way of thinking.

To follow along, visit the league’s Facebook page.

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Capital’s wild football schedule has it taking (at least) a five-hour bus ride to Lovington for a nondistrict game this Friday. And that’s not even the worst news.

Aside from facing a team that some considered to be a top-five club in the preseason Class 5A polls, the Jaguars will be missing at least three players due to lingering concussion issues. One of them is the team’s top running back while the other is a two-way starter at linebacker and tight end.

Sophomore RB Luke Padilla actually suffered a pair of injuries in last weekend’s 14-14 tie against Deming. He hyperextended an elbow in the first half, an injury that forced him to play the rest of the weather-shortened game with a heavy bandage that ran from the biceps to the middle of his forearm.

He then left for good in the fourth quarter when he was drilled in a head-on collision with a Deming player on a kickoff return.

Earlier in the game, sophomore LB/TE Julian Sanchez suffered a head injury that sent him to the hospital after he vomited on the sidelines.

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A year ago, Pojoaque Valley scored 28 points for the entire football season. The Elks exceeded that total in just one game, as they dropped Santa Fe Indian School, 35-23, on Thursday. Along with the 67-14 loss to Capital on Aug. 23, Pojoaque has scored in double figures twice more than it did last year. That’s 2-0, if you’re scoring at home.

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How crazy was Friday Night Light(ning)? Well, besides the Deming-Capital saga, a few other games were impacted by thunderstorms that struck the Southwest and the Rockies. Both Rio Rancho teams had their out-of-state games interrupted. Cleveland’s game at El Paso Franklin was halted for almost two hours, while Rio Rancho traveled to Pine Creek, Colo., and waited for more than two hours to play. Meanwhile, Roswell Goddard and Carlsbad played to a scoreless tie in southeast New Mexico, as thunderstorms halted play at halftime. So, there were two ties Friday.

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The Pecos cross-country team had a good day in its season-opening meet at the University of New Mexico Invitational on Saturday, but it was more than just what the team did. Panthers head coach Patrick Ortiz also ran in the community 5-kilometer race and finished in third place in 17 minutes, 38.6 seconds. Ortiz said he doesn’t normally compete in fun runs, but he did it for his younger runners who work out with him.

“It’s kind of a weird thing,” said Ortiz, who ran for UNM in the late 2000s. “I don’t like running races. I’d rather race a race. It’s not the same if you’re not going to put in the work.”

As for the varsity invitational, the Pecos boys finished ninth and the girls 13th.

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