Excerpt from Coach Robert Sepulveda The Early Days Book 1 Available Now on Amazon
A Football Game to Remember 1972:
During an interview with Art Keller, who was a Cross Country, Track and Field Medalist and a Defensive Back for the Varsity Tiger Football Team, he expressed to us the story of the greatest football game of his career. He called it; “the game to remember.”
That game was the homecoming game against Artesia in November of 72, his senior year. Art Keller did well in his studies and was excellent as an athlete. As a junior Art had mentioned to his father his desire to possibly graduate early. Art Keller’s dad was firm about one thing, “No!” Mr. Keller said, “Son you cannot graduate early. Your destiny is to be on a football team that beats Artesia.” For you see, Artesia and Alamogordo were and are fierce rivals and have a history. Alamogordo players, in protest a few years prior, had left Alamogordo and gone to Artesia to make political statement. Further, Artesia showed no mercy to the Alamogordo Tigers over the years.
A November 9th, 1972 news story in the Alamogordo News better explains the sentiments about Artesia at the time…
“Greenhorn Notes” by Stan Green Alamogordo News
“As the Alamogordo Tigers head into their biggest football game of the year…Homecoming…they are about to face the Artesia Bulldogs.
“I’m putting a closed sign on my flower shop” declared Ray Pierce Tuesday night when the Tiger Boosters met at the Desert Aire to review films of the previous week’s game.
Ray said, the best thing the Tigers could do to honor all the past teams was to “whip Artesia Friday night.”
Ray can recall being carried off the football field when he played Artesia several years prior.
Artesia had beat Alamogordo 19 times in prior meetings…Since 1946 the scoresheet shows Artesia winning 19 times, losing 2 and tying 1.
Alamogordo had a long dry spell, 17 years to be exact since they were able to hand a loss to Artesia. The Tigers won the 1955 game 21 to 6. The only other win was in 1949, 18 to 6. The Tigers had a 6-6 tie in 1948 and the two teams did not play in 53 nor 51.”
Things changed this year. Between a solid coaching staff prepping the boys and a team of determined athletes the headline was much different and Art Keller’s father’s vision came true…
Alamogordo News, 11/12/1972; “Tigers Hand an 18-0 Loss onto The Artesia Bulldogs”
“The greatest turnout of Tiger football fans Friday night for one of the greatest Homecomings in Alamogordo Tiger history….They handed the Artesia Bulldogs the first zip score ever by an Alamogordo football team as they stirred up the big orange and swallowed them in one big gulp 18 to 0.
The long dry spell since 1955 under Coach Newt McDonald beat Artesia 21 to 6, was finally broken Friday night under the coaching of Garland “Mr. Football” Braun, who can take a lot of credit for getting the job done as Varsity Football Coach. Not only did the Tigers humiliate Artesia for their 3rd homecoming loss while on the road this year…each one without the Bulldogs scoring a point, it was undoubtedly an extra bitter pill for long winning coach I G Henderson to swallow when the Tigers got their second touchdown…
The Alamogordo Senior Class placed an ad in the Artesia paper that came true, it read; “Fat Dogs Do Make Tiger Tidbits.” A humiliating defeat indeed, for Artesia.
According to Art Keller and several other classmates from that year; “When coach Braun was first assigned to Alamogordo, some of the seniors on the team resented that Coach Bob Sepulveda was not the varsity coach. Sepulveda had proven he can create winning teams both in Track and Field and in Sophomore Football, as Coach Bob had an 11- win, 0 loss prior season and was a multiyear district champion in track and field.”
While some questioned, “who is this Texan coming in here to coach Varsity Football?” Coach Sepulveda was incredibly supportive of the decision, so he could focus on Track and Field.
Eventually the students and the community came around as well. Alamogordans at the time would have to remember all the way back to 1960 under Coach Ralph Tate; when the Tiger season ended with a resounding 297 points versus the opposition’s 103 points, to remember a better season.