Here’s the state-champion 2021 Cleveland High football team. You can bet this year’s players want rings to show off, too. (Courtesy photo)



Isn’t this the way it’s supposed to be?

No. 1 vs. No. 2 for all the marbles?

That’s what happens Saturday at 1 p.m. in the Nusenda Credit Union Class 6A state championship game at Wilson Stadium, where the top-ranked Cleveland Storm (10-2), winners of 32 of their last 34 games, tackle the No. 2 La Cueva Bears (11-1).

It’s the second meeting between the Storm and Bears this season, as well as in a championship setting. Cleveland beat the Bears 33-29 in both teams’ second game of the 2022 season.

All-time, the Storm are 5-5 in games played at Wilson Stadium, now the home field for La Cueva, Sandia, Eldorado and Manzano.

Making football’s “final four” for the seventh season in a row, the Storm rallied in the second half of their 6A semifinal on Nov. 18, whipping their 1-6A foe Volcano Vista 47-27.

Josh Perry crossed the goal line five times, the second time the Storm running back had done that this season against the Hawks (10-3).

The next day, La Cueva punched its ticket to the big game with a 42-35 victory over No. 3 Centennial (9-2) at the Field of Dreams.

This will be Cleveland’s sixth championship-game appearance, and the Storm’s fourth in a row.

La Cueva, which had a 23-year start over the Storm in football, is making its seventh championship-game appearance, and has won five of its six to date.

Tickets for Saturday’s showdown can be purchased online only via GoFan (

Tickets cost $10 for adults, and $5 for students in grades K-12, senior citizens ages 65 and older and members of the military.

The 6A and other classes’ championship games will be available at

The Cleveland-La Cueva battle can be heard on ESPN Radio, 101.7-FM, in Rio Rancho.

Cleveland vs. La Cueva (all-time)

2011               CLEVELAND 41, La Cueva 13

2012               LA CUEVA 45, Cleveland 21

2013               CLEVELAND 42, La Cueva 20

2016               CLEVELAND 37, La Cueva 37

2017               LA CUEVA 30, Cleveland 7

2017/semifinal          LA CUEVA 37, Cleveland 34 (OT)

2018 ch’ship La Cueva 33, CLEVELAND 14

2022               Cleveland 33, LA CUEVA 29

(Home team in CAPS)


Cleveland in championship games

2011   Storm 48, MAYFIELD 28

2015   STORM 48, Eldorado 35

2018   La Cueva 33, STORM 14

2019   Storm 48, RIO RANCHO 40

2021   STORM 35, Rio Rancho 14

(Home team in CAPS)


La Cueva in championship games

1992   La Cueva 35, Roswell 0

2003   La Cueva 24, Mayfield 21

2004   La Cueva 40, Clovis 0

2009   La Cueva 31, Mayfield 14

2017   Manzano 14, La Cueva 7

2018   La Cueva 33, Cleveland 14