Future Lobo Luke Wysong, a 2021 graduate of Cleveland High School, has been named the state’s Gatorade Football Player of the Year.
It’s the company’s 36th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, and Wysong is the fourth Gatorade football honoree from Cleveland High, and the ninth — including five in the past six seasons — Rio Ranchoan thus distinguished.
The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Wysong as the state’s best high school football player.
People unaware of his ability saw it in the Storm’s 56-7 drubbing of Las Cruces in a New Mexico Activities Association “bowl game” this spring. Wysong caught five touchdown passes in the game at University Stadium — a satisfactory total for an entire season for some players.
Wysong, staying busy this spring as a sprinter for CHS track & field coach Kenny Henry, is a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Football Player of the Year award to be announced later this month.
The 5-foot-10, 185-pound senior wide receiver and defensive back led the Storm to a 4-0 record, catching 15 passes for 429 yards and six touchdowns, averaging 28.6 yards per reception. He rushed for two TDs and averaged 23 yards per return on 12 punt returns. Defensively, Wysong recorded eight tackles.
A 2019 and ’21 Class 6A first-team All-State selection, he concluded his prep football career with 1,173 receiving yards and 14 TDs.
A Rio Rancho Fire Rescue Department and Police Department youth volunteer, Wysong has donated his time as part of food-donation drives and he has volunteered on behalf of multiple community service initiatives through his church youth group.
Wysong maintained a weighted 3.24 GPA in the classroom. He signed a National Letter of Intent to play football on scholarship at UNM later this year.
The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport. The selection process is administered by the Gatorade Player of the Year Selection Committee, which works with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.
No surprise to Ridenour
“Luke being named the New Mexico Gatorade Player of the Year is just the exclamation point he deserved on the end of a fantastic high school career,” said his coach, Heath Ridenour. “Luke is one of the hardest-working individuals I have ever been around.
“His standard of personal excellence is uncommon among athletes today. His humility, work ethic and commitment to a TEAM concept are what set him apart from other athletes. He did everything that was asked of him in our program, but his desire to be great is what ultimately awarded him the Gatorade Player of the Year,” Ridenour added. “He worked tirelessly through the pandemic on his own to be the best player he could possibly be. It showed in his season. He was far and away the most-explosive player in New Mexico high school football when he had the ball in his hands. His process paid huge dividends in his final game against Las Cruces.
“I cannot say enough positive things about Luke — he deserves everything good that comes his way. Coach Gonzales and the Lobos got a true workhorse in Luke Wysong!”
Wysong joins an elite group of past state football award-winners, including Emmitt Smith (1986, Escambia High School, Fla.), Matthew Stafford (2005, Highland Park High School, Texas) and Christian McCaffrey (2012 and ’13, Valor Christian High School, Colo.).
Rio Ranchoans previously named Gatorade football players of the year
Season Player High School
2004 Alan Branch Cibola
2005 Michael Love Rio Rancho
2008 Troy Harris Rio Rancho
2011 Cole Gautsche Cleveland
2015 Gabe Ortega Cleveland
2016 Josh Foley Rio Rancho
2018 Dorian Lewis Cleveland
2019 Isaiah Chavez Rio Rancho