Longtime Cleveland High defensive coordinator Eddie Kilmer watches some of the Storm defenders go through a drill on the first official day of practice, July 31, at Lightning Bolt Stadium. (Herron photo)
In a little less than two weeks, the City of Vision’s varsity football teams hit the field to open what both expect will be a successful season – with even more success in the minds of the victors in the annual City of Vision Championship Game, set for Rio Rancho Stadium on October 27.
For those of you with short memories, the Cleveland High Storm won the last three Class 6A state championship games – in 2019, 2021 and 2022 – and arguably had the best team in the state in the pandemic season of 2020, which was contested in early 2021, when they won all five of their games. The Storm also played, but lost, in the 2018 championship game.
The Rams fell short of the semifinals last season, but appeared in the 2019 and ’21 championship games, where they lost to the Storm.
Here are the opponents and when they play them for both teams, with home games in CAPS.
- Cleveland High School Storm
Centennial, Aug. 19, 1 p.m.: After losing the first six times they faced the Storm, the Hawks ended CHS’s 15-game home field winning streak with a 38-35 victory at Lightning Bolt Stadium last season. Cleveland had a chance to win, but came up short late in the contest. CHS opened its 2021 season at the Field of Dreams, where this game will be played on undoubtedly a hot afternoon, with a 49-21 victory. By the way, Cleveland is 13-0 in games played at the Field of Dreams, including its first championship, a victory over Mayfield in 2011.
LA CUEVA, Aug. 25, 7 p.m.: You can bet this is the game the Bears are most looking forward to, having lost to the visiting Storm, 75-61, in the Class 6A championship shootout at Wilson Stadium. Cleveland holds a 5-4 advantage over the Bears through their first nine meetings, but that includes a victory by La Cueva in its last visit to Lightning Bolt Stadium: a 33-14 verdict in the 2018 championship game.
AMARILLO, Sept. 1, 6 p.m.: Josh Perry and Nic Trujillo scored two TDs each in the Storm’s 47-30 victory at Amarillo last season, the first meeting between the Storm and the Sandies. Perry and Trujillo are at UNM now, so watch for Harris Mbueha and Andres Aguirre to find the end zone a few times.
LAS CRUCES, Sept. 8, 7 p.m. (HOMECOMING): Not many teams schedule a potent opponent for Homecoming, but not the Storm – and Cleveland doesn’t fear the Bulldawgs, who they thumped 46-3 at the Field of Dreams last season. The Storm are 6-1 all-time vs. Las Cruces, and have won their last 11 (of 12 altogether) “Stormcoming” games.
Artesia, Sept. 15, 7 p.m.: The Storm are 6-0 all-time vs. this 5A powerhouse, and last year’s champs. In all six of those wins, the Storm have scored at least 42 points – and 61 points in last season’s meeting at the Bulldog Bowl.
FRENSHIP, Sept. 22, 6 p.m.: In Texas, Frenship is a 6A team, and these Tigers beat the visiting Storm 56-52 in the teams’ inaugural get-together. After that loss, the Storm began a seven-game wining streak.
Volcano Vista, Sept. 29, 7 p.m.: The Storm are 13-2 all-time vs. the Hawks, one of the district’s best teams, but a 56-21 victim of the Storm last season at Lightning Bolt Stadium. The Storm also knocked the Hawks out of the postseason, 47-24, at Community Stadium. Two years ago, the Storm rallied from a 20-0 halftime deficit to beat the Hawks at Community Stadium.
ATRISCO HERITAGE ACADEMY, Oct. 13, 7 p.m.: After the bye week, the Storm tackle the Jaguars, who never have beaten Cleveland. Six different players found the end zone last season, when the. Storm shellacked the Jaguars 48-0 – Cleveland’s fourth shutout in their six wins all-time, without a loss, vs. AHA. Naturally, coach Robert Garza will say his team can’t overlook this one.
CIBOLA, Oct. 20, 7 p.m.: The Storm, after last season’s 56-12 rout of the host Cougars, improved to 12-2 all-time vs. the Cougars, with wins in the last seven get-togethers.
Rio Rancho, Oct. 27, 7 p.m.: Heralded as the City of Vision Championship Game, the Storm have won their last eight meetings with the Rams, and that includes the 2019 and ’21 championship games, and last season’s conflict, but just narrowly: 28-27. The Storm trailed at intermission, 14-0. CHS is 13-4 all-time against the city’s older school, and has won the last six City of Vision titles.
- Rio Rancho High School Rams
La Cueva, Aug. 18, 7 p.m.: The state runner-up Bears of 2022 get back-to-back games with Rio Rancho’s teams, opening with the Rams for the second season in a row. Last year, La Cueva visited Rio Rancho Stadium and didn’t allow an offensive TD in a 31-7 victory. All-time, the Rams are 5-2 vs. Da Bears, 5-0 in their meetings at Wilson Stadium.
ELDORADO, Aug. 25, 7 p.m.: The Eagles and Rams have a fairly long history, as this will be the teams’ 15th meeting. RRHS has won four of the last five, including a 64-43 rout in the 2014 state semifinal and 34-17 last season at Wilson Stadium.
Eastlake, Sept. 1, 7:30 p.m.: This will be the second meeting between the Rams and this El Paso squad, which lost the first meeting, 13-7, at Rio Rancho Stadium last September.
Organ Mountain, Sept. 9, 1 p.m.: After scoring 35 or more points in their first six meetings with the Knights, the Rams managed only 20 points last year, but that 20-13 victory made them 7-0 all-time against this Las Cruces team. RRHS is 6-8 all-time at the Field of Dreams, with half of those wins coming over the Knights.
HOBBS, Sept. 15, 7 p.m. (HOMECOMING): Homecoming has been very good for the Rams, who are 19-4 all-time in the big game. The Rams are 2-2 all-time vs. the Eagles, who beat them 30-20 last season at Hobbs.
FARMINGTON, Sept. 22, 7 p.m.: The Rams made their first trip up US 550 last fall, and came back with a 35-28 victory over the Scorpions.
ATRISCO HERITAGE ACADEMY, Oct. 6, 7 p.m.: The Rams have owned the Jaguars, winning all eight meetings, including a 49-27 win last season. The Jaguars are coached by former Rams assistant Howard Knesevich.
Cibola, Oct. 13, 7 p.m.: The Rams have played the “down-the-hill” Cougars more times than any other team, meeting every season except the Rams’ inaugural season of 1997 and the 2020 pandemic season. All-time, the Rams are 19-6 vs. CHS, winning the last nine, including a 35-7 rout last fall.
Volcano Vista, Oct. 20, 7 p.m.: The Rams are 10-4 all-time vs. the Hawks, with the best of those 10 Ws coming in their 48-30 6A semifinal win at Community Stadium in 2019, which set up the championship meeting with the visiting Storm. VVHS had too many offensive weapons for the Rams to contend with last fall, a 34-22 Hawks win at Rio Rancho Stadium.
CLEVELAND, Oct. 27, 7 p.m.: A lot of fans eagerly await this game, the annual the City of Vision Championship Game, won by the Storm the last six years. Cleveland has won its last eight and nine of the last 10 meetings with the Rams, including 35-14 last season in the regular-season finale. CHS is 13-4 all-time against the city’s older school.