However this Class 5A football season plays out over the next eight weeks, one thing seems to be a lock: this division is not going to look the same in 2022.
Specifically, it is almost certain not to include the Los Lunas Tigers.
Los Lunas, 7-0 after beating Highland Friday night 50-0, fully expects to become a Class 6A-playing football program starting next year.
The New Mexico Activities Association will officially unveil their new realignment and classification proposal for its board of directors at its Dec. 2 meeting in Albuquerque. So nothing is set in concrete until then.
As always when realignment comes around every two years, there will be schools moving up in class, and teams moving down.
Los Lunas may not be the only football team in 5A that jumps.
But Los Lunas’ time as a 5A program — at least for the next two-year block, which is 2022-23 and 2023-24 — is apparently coming to a close.
District athletic director Wilson Holland told the Journal that Los Lunas’ enrollment, which is soaring (Holland pegs it at about 1,600), surely will force its exit from 5A.
The NMAA’s methods for determining classification placement is to combine the 80-day student counts from the previous two school years (in this case, 2019-20 and 2020-21), with the 40-day count for 2021-22, and average the three numbers as they align schools for the next block.
Any school over 1,450 students is considered 6A in football.
Holland estimated the school could be at about 1,650 students by August 2022.
“There are a number of new housing developments that have taken off in the Los Lunas High School attendance zone,” Holland said. “And it’s unreal.”
Consequently, the Tigers, who were the state runners-up in Class 5A in both 2018 and 2019, may have a short window to win this football championshp they so crave.
In 6A, Los Lunas could — and probably will — be extremely competitive with pretty much anyone.
But can the Tigers topple the King Kong and Godzilla of 6A football, Cleveland and Rio Rancho?
“We’ll have to respond and do the best we can,” Los Lunas coach Greg Henington said.
When he was hired at Los Lunas, he made it plainly clear that getting the Tigers to that next level, to winning state titles, was his goal. “It’ll definitely be tougher, but there’s nothing you can do about it.”
Los Lunas in the last realignment moved up into 5A into all the other sports, which is the largest class.
Football, at current, is the only sport the school is competing at the second-highest level.
As to whether the reduction in students over the last couple of years at Valencia High, which dropped from 5A to 4A, is directly related to the increase in students at Los Lunas, Holland said he couldn’t say just yet.