Clovis High School football teams have won 13 state championships since the New Mexico Activities Association began organizing such things in 1950.
The Wildcats also claim six unofficial state football crowns, all from 1926 through 1934.
The unofficial title declared 80 years ago, following an undefeated 1932 season, was shared with at least two other teams — all of whom agreed the money needed to settle the matter on the gridiron was better spent in other ways.
“Wildcats Reign Over Eastern N.M.” read the headline atop page 2 of the Nov. 25, 1932, edition of The Clovis Evening News-Journal.
The accompanying game report detailed Clovis’ 20-0 Thanksgiving Day victory over Portales at Cavalry Park, the approximate location of Bell Park’s baseball field near Sycamore Street today.
All the scoring came in the first half. Buster Riddle ran for two touchdowns. Langdon Skarda returned a punt 60 yards for Clovis’ other score. Clovis’ Bill Lawson was named the game’s outstanding lineman.
Beating Portales was no walk in Cavalry Park for Clovis in those days.
The communities’ schools were roughly the same size in 1932, and the rivalry more heated than today.
One year earlier, the teams played to a tie on a muddy field. In 1930, Portales beat the ’Cats, 19-6, for what the newspaper reported was a “sectional crown.”
The 1932 victory over Portales, which finished its year 5-1-2, left Clovis with an 8-0 record. Farmington and the Albuquerque Indian School also finished their seasons unbeaten, each with legitimate claims as the state’s best.
Teams discussed options of playing for an undisputed crown, but decided against it because of concerns about travel costs, the News-Journal reported.
The chairman for the state committee for the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools helped steer the decision with a letter to the schools.
“I am of the opinion that the association is definitely opposed to such championship contests,” Chairman J.W. Diefendorf wrote.
“I am of the opinion that the greater part of the agitation for such a post-season contest arises among the patrons of the community supporting the team, rather than among the school officials and members of the teams themselves.”
Diefendorf went on to say the association wanted to emphasize development of students within each school “without undue emphasis upon contests between schools,” CN-J reported.
Travel expenses were cited as the primary concern.
School budgets were dramatically smaller in those days.
Jose Cano, the chief financial officer for Clovis schools today, said minutes from a 1932 Clovis school board meeting show the district’s entire budget for 1932-33 was $161,235.
“That included salaries for teachers,” Cano said.
The travel and equipment budget alone for Clovis High’s football team this season is $58,000, Cano said. That figure does not include coaches’ salaries.
And so the 1932 high school football season ended with at least three champions.
Clovis won unofficial crowns in 1933 and 1934 as well, but its first uncontested state title came in 1960. Clovis went 6-4-1 that season, but beat previously undefeated Farmington, 20-14, in the NMAA’s Class AA championship game.