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 (https://gofan.co/app/school/NMAA).
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 www.nfhsnetwork.com/channels/new-mexico
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