State Championship Action!

A Stellar Sports Fall Season!
Posted on 12/02/2018
CHS Storm blue football

It's been a great year for sports in Rio Rancho schools, and the school year has barely begun!  Our student athletes were on the field and the court in the state playoffs in all four fall sport, bring home a bevy of trophies and memories to last a lifetime!  

Cleveland player heads ball away from goalSoccer: 

After being ranked #1 in the state for most of the season, the Storm boys soccer team closed the deal, winning the 5A (big school) state championship -- both the Storm’s and the school district’s first state title in boys soccer. 

In defeating Atrisco Heritage Academy in the quarterfinals, the Storm was the only one of the top four seeds to avoid an upset and advance to the semifinals.  Cleveland then handily defeated Clovis High in the semifinals and earned the right to face the #6 Mayfield Trojans in the finals.

CHS soccer team celebrates with state trophyThe Trojans were tough.  The teams dueled to a scoreless tie on a frigid Friday night in regulation, and moved onto a nip and tuck two overtimes, with both teams having chances to score.  The game finally ended late in the second overtime when senior Jario Barreras punched a penalty kick past the excellent Mayfield goalie, Xavier Calderon, to score the win.  An ecstatic, boisterous Storm crowd poured onto the field to congratulate the Storm before they hoisted the blue championship trophy.    

The Cleveland girls team got as far as the quarterfinals and the Rio Rancho boys made it into the first round of the state tournament.  This year wasn’t the Rio Rancho girls’ soccer teams’ year, but the Ram girls own the only other state soccer trophy ever won by a Rio Rancho Public Schools team, in 2007. 

Yonas Haile leads cross country pack at start


Paced by senior Yonas Haile, the Cleveland boys also continued their dominance in cross-country, winning the team and individual titles for the second straight year.   Haile crossed the line in an impressive time of 15:49, 20 seconds ahead of the second place finisher.  The top five Cleveland runners all finished in the top 20.   A young, rebuilding Storm girls cross-country team was the state runner-up, with eighth grader Leah Futey falling just short of winning the individual championship.  (Leah’s brother is a member of the CHS championship team.)  The Rio Rancho Rams boys and girls teams both finished fourth in the 15-team field.


Storm football team runs onto the fieldThe Cleveland Storm had a stellar football season and came close to winning it all.  Expectations were not very high at the beginning of the season -- many key Cleveland players are underclassmen -- but week after week, they knocked off opponents with seeming ease.  Entering the state playoffs as the unbeaten and #1 seed, they handily disposed of their quarterfinal and semifinal opponents to reach the state championship game. 

Photo Gallery: State Semifinals: Cleveland Storm vs. Volcano Vista Hawks

The state championship game was a classic clash of unbeatens: the Storm vs. the #2-seeded and unbeaten La Cueva Bears.  Both teams sported 12-0 records and outstanding offenses and defenses, but the Bears had the edge in experience: as last year's runners-up, they had recent state championship game experience and a bevy of returning players. 

Photo Gallery: State Championship Game: Cleveland Storm vs. La Cueva Bears

In the championship game, played on the Storm's home field before a capacity crowd, the Bears' experience showed.  It was a tough day for the Storm, as La Cueva dominated both sides of the ball and emerged with a 33-14 victory.  Cleveland took home the red runner-up trophy and, as they say, there's always next year.  The same is true for the Rio Rancho Rams, who made the playoffs but were eliminated in the quarterfinals.  


RRHS volleyball player spiking the ballIn volleyball, it wasn’t the Storm’s year, but the Rio Rancho Rams made a great run in the state tournament.  As the #8 seed, they scored an impressive quarterfinal win over the Roswell Coyotes and in the semis won their first game against the #2-seeded (and defending champion) Sandia Matadors.  While ultimately the Rams couldn’t overcome the Matadors, the team continues to improve and may be a formidable force next year.