LAS CRUCES, NM (KTSM) — Las Cruces-Mayfield. A rivalry that dates back to 1965 and has been played every year since, with the exception of 2020 after schools across New Mexico saw their fall seasons postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, not all has been lost, especially for the Class of 2021. In fact, the fiercest rivalry game in the state will be played twice this year — once in March and again in the fall — as an abbreviated high school football spring season in New Mexico will kickoff this weekend in Las Cruces.
“These are unprecedented times as far as having to deal with COVID-19 for over a year,” said Mayfield head coach Michael Bradley. “There’s been no sports and one thing after the other — 500,000 people dying in the United States. We are grateful for the opportunity, but it has been a long road.”
New Mexico was one of just three states in the country not to play a down of football last fall. It has been 15 long months since Las Cruces or Mayfield has taken the field and at times, it seemed as if they would never get the chance to play, all while watching games being played around them. However, the coaches, players and administrators never lost hope.
“At some point, they are going to put a ball down and blow the whistle. I refused to believe anything different,” said head coach Mark Lopez. “At some point they’re going to do it and it comes down to if we’re going to be ready at that point or are we going to trying to get ready at that point.”
Both teams will have had just four in-person practices before they take the field on Saturday, a moment these student-athletes will relish.
“Having this season for us is a really big part because we are all family,” said Las Cruces senior Nick Lucero. “Not spending time with family is unimaginable, especially on the field.”
Saturday’s meeting between Las Cruces and Mayfield will mark the 57th meeting in a rivalry that has received national recognition. It is only fitting the New Mexico Activities Association (NMAA) scheduled this game as high school football’s return to the City of the Crosses.
“What a way to open,” said Lopez. “I don’t think the NMAA sat down and thought about when they should put Mayfield and Cruces down on the schedule. Yeah, I think it was obviously on purpose, but what a meaningful game for the community.”
Mayfield holds the all-time series edge over Las Cruces, 29-26-1. Kickoff at the Field of Dreams is scheduled for 3 p.m. MT.