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2023 McCLAVE CARDINALS FOOTBALL TEAM: Front row (l-r) Remmi Graves, Dakota Stines, Tuff Kelley, Nate Torres, Gavin Tempel, Garrett Van Dyke, Ben Torres, Tayden Martinez, Conner Stines, Ray Mungaray, Kielan Aragon, Mason Barr, and Karson Roesch. Back row (l-r) Weston Morgan, Ryan Bronniman, Elijah Solis, Ethan Bronniman, Corbin Jagers, Will Pacino, Zack Owens, Jr. Mungaray, Kasen Malone, Colby Ebright, and Cope Meston.

McClave Football Looks to Reload


By John Contreras

August 19, 2023

The McClave Cardinals football team is coming off their second straight winning season after going winless in 2020.

McClave earned a share of the Arkansas Valley Conference crown last season, splitting it with Holly and Swink. All three teams went 4-1 in league play.

McClave advanced to the Class A 8-man state playoffs in 2022.

Unfortunately, it was a quick exit as the No. 16 seed Cardinals were eliminated by the No. 1 seed Haxtun, 48-8, in the opening round.

McClave ended last season with a 6-4 record.

The Cardinals were hit hard by graduation and lost their top passer, one of their top running backs, and their top two receivers.

“Last year we took a huge step,” said head coach Jeremy Mallard, who heads into his 10th year at the helm. “We tied for first in the league, and we made it to the playoffs.

“I thought we should have gone in a little higher than the 16th seed, but we drew a tough Haxtun team, and we were eliminated in the first round. “I believe we are ready to build off of that a little. We lost a lot of key leadership and parts from last year’s team, but we have a lot of younger guys ready to step in and fill their roles. Our goal is to have a chance to win our league and get back into the playoffs.”

“This season, we will lean heavily on our offensive line, which I think has a chance to be one of the best units in the state,” explained Mallard.

He said that juniors Zack Owens and Jr. Mungaray are as good as it gets up front.

The Cardinals will also have several guys who are more than ready to fill that last guard position.

Ray Mungaray, a senior, will be one of the ends as well as freshman Tuff Kelley.

“Both Ray and Tuff are big and strong athletic kids,” said Mallard.

Running backs for the Cardinals will include senior Gavin Tempel, junior Will Pacino, and senior Conner Stines.

“Our running backs will be asked to carry the ball by committee,” Mallard said. “They all bring a little something different to the table.”

Ethan Bronniman, a junior, and Mason Barr, a sophomore are entrenched in a battle for the quarterback position.

“Both Ethan and Mason are fully capable and ready to take over at quarterback,” said Mallard.

“Along with our offensive line, I think our defense has a chance to be pretty good,” said the McClave boss. “Gavin and Will are as tough as they come. They put in a lot of work this summer and they should be fun to watch. We have a lot of depth on the defensive side, and we should be able to put a lot of pressure on teams.”

Looking at the teams in the Arkansas Valley Conference, Mallard said, “Our league will be tough as always. Holly is probably the favorite. They are very well coached. Coach (Dayne) Eaton always has them ready, and they have the most athletic quarterback in the league. It’s been a long time since we have beaten them. That would be a huge program booster.”

Mallard added, “I think Springfield will be a lot better than they have been the last few years and the Longhorns are on the way to being a pretty good team.”

“Swink brings back a very good quarterback and they are another well coached group that will be right in the thick of things.”

“Wiley and Las Animas are kind of going through a change, so you never know what’s going to happen there.”

“It should be a very competitive league and I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds.”

The Cardinals will host Crowley County in their season opener on Saturday, Aug. 26 at 7 p.m. and then entertain Merino on Sept. 1.

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