Area well-represented in 1A-2A grid clash

By Dave Wagner

TEXICO’S MIKE PROKOP WILL coach five members of his Class 1A state championship team in the New Mexico High School Coaches Association’s Class 1A-2A all-star game, scheduled for June 12 at Western New Mexico University in Silver City.

Prokop’s South squad will include guard Bryce Bailey, tackle Jared Curtis and running back Mark Peabody on offense, and end Joe Zaikowski and secondary back Jesse Serrano on defense.

“I’m looking forward to coaching those guys one more time,” Prokop said. “We’re just going to go out and have fun. We’re going to make it as fun as we can, and hope we come out on top.”

In addition, Prokop said his Wolverines coaching staff of John Irwin, Randy Zarate, Chris Hanks will serve as his assistants for the game.

The contest might have a little bit of a Texico-Fort Sumner feel to it. The Foxes, who defeated the Wolverines in the 2001 and 2002 state title games before losing in the first round to Loving last season, are scheduled to have six players on the North squad — center John Sena, guard Gerid Higgins, quarterback Jameson West, running back Brandon Vinson, defensive lineman Michael Lucero and defensive back Roel Canales.

YET ANOTHER MEMBER OF THE area high school coaching fraternity reached the 300-win mark recently … and he didn’t even realize it.

Fort Sumner girls coach Brian Fortner got to the magic figure on Jan. 16 when the Vixens beat his former team, the Logan Lady Longhorns. Fortner said he didn’t realize it until last weekend.

“I knew I was close, but I didn’t know I got it until it was past,” Fortner said. “It crept up on me.”

Fortner joins Texico boys coach Richard Luscombe, who won his 300th game in 15 seasons as Wolverines coach earlier this month, and Clovis High boys coach J.D. Isler, who got his 300th Tuesday night in 12 seasons of coaching at Grady and CHS.

Fortner is in his 16th season as a high school coach. He spent seven seasons as the Logan boys coach, then four as the boys coach at Hartley, Texas, before coming back to Logan to coach the girls for three seasons.

After a four-year hiatus, Fortner led Tucumcari’s girls to a 20-9 record and a Class 2A state runnerup finish last season. He then replaced Rafael Roybal this year at Fort Sumner, bringing twin daughters Sandy and Kelly with him, and has the Vixens off to a 15-4 start.

Fortner said he was burned out after the 1997-98 season, but said time away with his family helped rejuvenate him.
“I had so much fun last year, I just got hooked on it,” he said.

TWO MEMBERS OF THE FARWELL Steers, seniors Jose Cabello and Grant Gregory, were chosen for honorable mention on the Texas Sports Writers Association Class 1A all-state football team, released on Monday.
Cabello was a two-way lineman while Gregory played tight end and defense end for a Steers team which went 9-2 last fall and reached the second-round of the 1A playoffs.

CNJ sports writer Dave Wagner can be reached at: