CHS football PHOTO: The Storm celebrate one of their six touchdowns in their 45-0 romp over visiting Hobbs in a quarterfinal game played Nov. 10 at Lightning Bolt Stadium. (Photo by Joe Grimando)
RIO RANCHO – Yes, many people will tell you, “When these two teams get together, you can throw out the record book.”
Rio Rancho High School football fans will want to do that before Friday night’s Class 6A showdown at Rio Rancho Stadium, where their beloved Rams (9-3) meet that team from the other side of Northern Boulevard, the Cleveland Storm (8-3).
The winner heads to the state championship game on Saturday, Nov. 25 – two days after Thanksgiving. (Don’t eat too much, boys!)
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
The state’s other 6A semifinal has La Cueva playing Las Cruces at the Field of Dreams.
If the Rams beat the Storm, they’ll be on the road for the championship game. If the Storm win, they’ll be home for the afternoon contest. That’s how it shakes out: RRHS owes both schools a visit; the Storm are owed visits by both.
Back to the record book, before it’s chucked: Cleveland has won the last nine get-togethers, including a 37-zip victory at Rio Rancho Stadium on Oct. 27.
In fact, the last time the Rams beat the visiting Storm was back in 2009 – just the new school’s ninth game. The last time the Rams beat the Storm was in 2016 at Cleveland.
Since their 35-0 loss to visiting Frenship High on Sept. 22, the Storm are on a five-game winning streak, outscoring those opponents 244-25, with back-to-back shutouts.
The Rams have won six of their last seven, the only setback being that lopsided whitewashing by the Storm.
Cleveland beat the Rams 42-28 in their last semifinal meeting, back in 2011 at CHS, when the “perfect Storm” won their first state championship.
Cleveland also beat the Rams in the 2019 championship game, 48-40, at RRHS, and 35-14 in the 2021 championship game at CHS.
This season will also be the fifth season in a row, disregarding the pandemic season of 2020, that Rio Rancho has had one or both teams playing in the championship game. The Storm lost the 2018 title tilt to visiting La Cueva, then won it all in 2019, ’21 and ’22.
Cleveland is appearing in a semifinal game for the eighth season in a row and has won the last three – all on the road. The Rams are 3-0 in their three semifinal appearances – in 2014, ’16 and ’19.
As for the showdown with the Rams, in light of his team’s domination dating back to 2016 – the last time Rio Rancho beat Cleveland – Storm coach Robert Garza said, “That’s why we play the game. It will be a pretty awesome environment – Friday night football.”