The Cleveland High senior football players had some time to “style” for XL Sports Photography, which took individual, team and coaches’ photos last Saturday. (Herron photo)

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Here we go again – Friday Night Lights, as the 2022 high school football season kicks off tonight at 7 on the new turf at Cleveland and Rio Rancho high schools!!

The defending champion Storm are ranked No. 1 in Class 6A by MaxPreps and they’ll meet No. 5 Centennial of Las Cruces.

The Storm have won their last 22 games in a row, and are on a 15-game winning streak at Thunderbolt Stadium.

The Rams, who lost the 2019 and ’21 championship games to Cleveland, are ranked fourth and face No. 2 La Cueva – a team they beat twice last season, including in a double-overtime semifinal at Rio Rancho Stadium.

Both city teams had scrimmages last Wednesday.

Here’s what first-year Storm head coach Robert Garza had to say: “We learned that we have a long way to go, but we are headed in the right direction. Our kids played hard and are doing what we ask of them. We need to clean up some alignment issues, and continue working day in and day out.”

“Our defense as a whole needs to work on getting lined up quicker and seeing the formation faster. Offensively, our line needs to continue to grow as a unit and work together.”

And here’s what first-year Rams coach Nate Pino said about his team: “Good communication, and pursuit of the ball on defense; Stopped the run. Offensively, he said his team did a good job of staying efficient and picked up the tempo as it moved into the live segment.”

Needing improvement, Pino said, is the secondary, which gave up a long TD pass, and his team had a late turnover on its last drive when we were just outside the red zone on a first down.”

Once again, kickoff at each stadium is 7 p.m. … If you can’t be there, check out or pick up the August 21st Observer.