Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

School Stars Shine in Variety of Sports.(Journal North)

Byline: Will Webber Journal Staff Writer

State Titles Among Awards

It started, innocently enough, with the first official day of football two-a-day practices last August and ended with a flourish Saturday evening with the final out in the Class 4A state championship game for baseball.

"It," of course, was the high school sports season for the academic year 2002-03. Along the way, 13 state championship teams -- 14 if you count Robertson twice for winning the duals and individual titles in wrestling -- were crowned while countless individuals stepped forward with unforgettable performances.

A look back at the year that was in northern New Mexico:

FALL SPORTS

Volleyball

State Champions: Des Moines (1A), St. Michael's (3A)

State Playoffs: Questa and Cimarron (2A 1st Rd.), Raton (3A 1st Rd.), Los Alamos (4A 1st Rd.)

With just two underclassmen on their roster, the senior-laden Lady Horsemen of St. Michael's broke the Portales stranglehold on the title en route to their first state championship. Including regionals, the team won nine of 10 games, including three of four against the Rams in the finals.

For Des Moines, a team with a lineup that would challenge most teams in 4A and 5A in terms of height and experience, it seemed its biggest opponent was itself. Behind senior hitter Brandy Atwater, the Lady Demons dominated the 1A field, losing just two games in three days while capturing their second straight state trophy and third in five years.

Football

State Playoffs: Roy (6-Man 1st Rd.), Springer (1A semifinals), West Las Vegas and St. Michael's (3A 1st Rd.), Taos (4A 1st Rd.)

The storyline for the '02 season was the surprising resurrection of West Las Vegas' program under rookie coach James Esquibel. Aside from a blowout win against bitter rival Robertson, the Dons came within a point of winning the district championship. In the playoffs, West lost a heartbreaker in the first round at Portales. …

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