Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

Football STARS.(Sports)

COACH

JIM MILLER

COACH

SCHOOL: Las Cruces

STAR QUALITIES: Any coach would love to claim the success Miller has compiled with the Bulldawgs. In three seasons, he has a 36-5 record, having led Las Cruces to a state semifinal his first season and championships the past two years. "It might have been even more fun getting the second one," Miller says. "The kids believed in what we were doing, so they worked extremely hard without much pressure from us."

CLASS AAAAA

JAMES LOPEZ

QUARTERBACK

SCHOOL: Las Cruces

CLASS: Senior

STAR QUALITIES: Lopez posed a dual threat to opposing defenses, passing for 1,600 yards and rushing for more than 1,100 more. His passing accounted for 16 touchdowns and just four interceptions in Las Cruces' title run. "James really put a lot of pressure on people," Bulldawgs coach Jim Miller says. "He could hurt you with his legs or his arm, and he didn't make many mistakes."

TRAVIS GATES

RUNNING BACK

SCHOOL: Carlsbad

CLASS: Senior

STAR QUALITIES: The term "workhorse" might be insufficient to describe Gates' role for the state runner-up Cavemen. The 6-foot, 215-pounder shattered school rushing records with an amazing 349 carries and 2,187 yards during the regular season alone. "Travis is a good, physical football player," Carlsbad coach Kirk Potter says. "He knew he was going to get the ball, so he worked extremely hard to get prepared and excel."

BRIAN NASH

WIDE RECEIVER

SCHOOL: Hobbs

CLASS: Senior

STAR QUALITIES: With exceptional speed and a knack for getting to the ball, Nash was a lethal weapon for the Eagles. He set school receiving records as a junior; he rewrote them this season with 48 catches for 965 yards and 16 touchdowns. Nash also came up with seven interceptions as a defensive back. "Brian's an outstanding athlete who did some extraordinary things at this school," Hobbs coach Jeff Cearley says.

MARCOS CADENA

OFFENSIVE LINE

SCHOOL: Las Cruces

CLASS: Senior

STAR QUALITIES: Cadena brought a rare combination of size, strength and unexpected speed to the table for the Bulldawgs. …

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