LAS CRUCES, New Mexico (KTSM) – After putting together a 9-2 season while making a run to the NMAA Class 6A State Semifinals, the Centennial Hawks are gearing up for the 2023 season.

Centennial’s season ended in heartbreaking fashion in the Class 6A State Semifinals game. Second-ranked La Cueva scored the go-ahead touchdown with under two minutes to play to beat three-seed Centennial, 42-35.

The defeat is one that has added fuel to the Hawks’ fire to put together an even better season in 2023.

A new-look Hawks squad that’s led by head coach Aaron Ocampo learned a lot of lessons in 2022 and hope to use them to get better for 2023.

“I think you learn so much as a coach. Things we should’ve done better within the game, things that we could’ve planned better, and that kind of stuff from a coaching standpoint,” Ocampo said. “From a players standpoint, it’s a new year, every year. It’s a new journey, a new team. Never in high school football do you return the same team, so these guys have their own story to write this year.”

On defense, the Hawks will be led by senior linebacker John Sierra. Sierra currently holds a FBS Division I offer from the University of New Mexico. Fellow senior linebacker/safety Andrew Evans will also be someone to look out for on the Hawks’ defense.

On offense, Centennial returns its starting quarterback from last year in Daniel Hernandez. The Hawks are glad they’ll be getting Juan Andres-Bitar back. Bitar started at linebacker for the Hawks in 2021 as a sophomore before missing the 2022 season due to an injury.

Centennial’s regular season opener is on Saturday, Aug. 19 against Cleveland at the Field of Dreams in Las Cruces, New Mexico.