Alamogordo High School Sports Fun Fact:
Alamogordo has had 2 undefeated football seasons since its inception and first football game played in 1912. Those seasons were 1936 and 1985. In 1936 the Tigers tied Deming and were undefeated 7 games. The season of 1985, however set a record in that it was the first and only untied and undefeated season since 1912.
An Alamogordo Tiger Football recap -1985
Coach Hveem did a presentation kicking off the new season with a Century Club kickoff covered by the Alamogordo News on August 4, 1985. The spirit of Tiger football was burning bright according to Coach Gary Hveem who proceeded to discuss the team and recognize some key athletes.
Wilson Holland was introduced as a returning letterman and Coach Hveem, said, “Holland exemplified the attitude shown by a serious player during the summer.” “Guys like this young man made a commitment and made it personally and taken and engulfed others with enthusiasm needed to play. The team wants to win, Alamogordo wants a winning team. These young men do not want to be part of a second losing record. They have prepared well,” he spoke passionately.
He noted that Ted Cisneros and Jeff Fulton would be moving into coaching ranks. He said they had 65 participants in the conditioning drills over the summer so the team would have depth.
The New Mexico Activities Association changed its’ policy beginning with the 1985/86 season that allowed for an 11th game for high school teams. Hveem’s thoughts were that this could prove to be a disadvantage, as Alamogordo was not able to pick up am extra game due to scheduling conflicts however, competitors such as Clovis, Roswell and Hobbs were able.
The team opened regular season September 13, 1985. The Tigers were to play 10 games in a row.
By October 18th1985, things were looking particularly good for the Tiger football team for the 85 Season. They were gaining momentum and confidence with a 5-0 record and the community was rallying behind them with an unprecedented level of support.
The team was hosting pre-game pep rallies that included the public. The business community was decorating their stores and showing the Tiger colors with pride. But the season was about to get significantly more difficult, as they were soon to take on Carlsbad, Hobbs, Clovis and Roswell. The Clovis team was viewed as the biggest threat, but Coach Hveem spoke with confidence to the press about going for the gold this season.
The AP also viewed this team from Alamogordo favorably in their ratings, thus the team was feeling the pressure to perform.
The dream indeed came through the 85season with the game on Friday November 15th, 1985, bringing the Alamogordo team to a 10-0 season. The team entered the history books with a 32-16 victory over Roswell.
Besides winning the district championship outright, the perfect regular season performance represented the first time in the schools 73-year football history to have a team go through regular season with no losses and no ties.
Greg Stephen’s as quarterback was a young 16-year-old junior. He was only the 2nd Junior to ever start for Head Football Coach Gary Hveem and the only to lead a team to an undefeated season, a record still not broken under the leadership of a junior class quarterback.
Going into the season Coach Hveem was “not convinced” on Stephen’s abilities but JV Football Coach and Head Track and Field Coach, Robert Sepulveda convinced Hveem to give Stephens a chance, and take a second look at the “slow of foot” player for quarterback.
Coach Hveem had a quote before he started Stephens was, “Stephens, you look like a fish out of water moving, but you do great things once you get there.”
That indeed proved to be true. A new school season record was broken prior to the last game of the season by Quarterback Greg Stephens. He set a new school record with a total of 1660 yards made in the air, with an average of 16.6 per toss as of the Roswell game. Stephens got the lions share or 1604 yards with 102 completions in 181 attempts, for the season. Terry Davis made the remaining yardage. The previous record for the team, 1488 yards in 1978 in the air attacks.
The Tigers entered this regular season ending game coming from a tough game the prior week with Clovis. They had not beaten that district rival since 1980.
As the season ended, Alamogordo had battled back from the prior seasons 4 to 6 showing. It was said that this season the Tigers ruled what some in New Mexico called the southern “Murderer’s row” at 10-0 and 4-0.
The Tigers went into the state playoffs with the homefield advantage over Del Norte.
For Senior Anthony Branch, the night was particularly sweet. Two years prior as a sophomore, he dropped what would have been the winning pass in the final game of the regular season against Roswell, a loss which kept the Tigers that year from the playoffs. He lived with that but carried forward with a passion and perseverance.
This go around Branch showed the Coyotes how to play the game- he scored on a 3-yard run with 3:59 remaining in the 3rd Quarter- and then put the game away at the 6:06 mark in the fourth quarter on a second downplay for an 83-yard run.
Anthony Branch’s run, in which he broke several tackles, came after the Tiger defense had stopped a Roswell drive at the Tigers 15-yard line.
On the night Branch rushed for 110 yards on 9 attempts and covered 47 yards in 3 receptions.
The run made the night. Coach Hveem said of Branch and that night in the Alamogordo News, “Nothing was said, but we both know Anthony did not have to agonize anymore about what happened 2 years ago. He more than redeemed himself and has proven to be a formidable athlete.”
Roswell fought hard. They pulled out all the stops frustrating the Tiger defense during the opening periods.
Roswell Quarterback Sean Reeves did some fancy running and throwing and was difficult to stop till the second period.
Alamogordo’s Tony Gonzalez started the scoring with 8:52 remaining in the opening period. He ran in from the two after the Tigers had control of the ball over a 70-yard drive following the opening kickoff. The Tigers had a 7-0 first quarter lead after a Brad Adams kick.
Roswell scored in the second after John Singleton ambled 3 yards and Peter Sanders made the two-point conversion at the 9:49 mark in the second period. This gave the Coyotes their only lead.
Adams gave the Tigers back the lead with a 20-yard field goal with 1:29 remaining before the half.
Coach Hveem said, “he talked a long time with his team during the halftime and came out once and I felt we were flat, so we went back in and talked a little bit more as a team.”
Alamogordo’s defense started to move. First came Branch’s score, followed by a two-point run by Terry Davis.
In the fourth, Branch showed his stuff, followed by another Adams kick to etch the score 25-8.
A costly 15-yard pass interference penalty against Alamogordo set up the final Coyote score- a 30-yard run by Peter Sanders in the 4th quarter.
Alamogordo continued to work its ground game, eating up the clock. With 4 seconds remaining, the record setting performance was announced- and the crowd started to head onto the track ready to run onto the field in celebration.
However, it was not over yet. Terry Davis, in as Quarterback, ran from 9 yards out and Adam’s kick was good, and time ran out.
The field went crazy in celebration, this marked Coach Hveem’s 10th year at Alamogordo, the longest of any Varsity Football coach since the school was founded in 1912, and his first undefeated team in 22 years of coaching up to that point.
That game night, Alamogordo made 206 yards on the ground and 222 in the air- thanks to the 15 of 20 successes from Quarterback Greg Stephens. Roswell was held to 141 on the ground and 42 in the air.
Fullback Scotty Pierce has another successful night on the ground, making 56 yards in 13 carries. Jesse Harris had 41 in six tries.
Gonzales led receivers with 85 yards in 4 catches. David Bailey had 24 yards in three receptions and Wilson Holland 66 in five.
Alamogordo controlled the downs with 18 to Roswell’s 12. The Tigers were flagged for 5 penalties totaling 50 yards to Roswell’s 3 for 29 yards.
Tigers win again! The Tigers shut out Del Norte in the quarter finals 28-0. Due to this victory the Tigers would only need two more wins to win the state title. Alamogordo won a state title under Rolla Buck but in the B small school division of the time. The nearest to a state title in the upper division has been Coach Gary Hveem. This makes another chance at the elusive title. Under his leadership there have been multiple state playoffs, but this team trended the best overall.
During the quarter finals with Del Norte, they played better as the night progressed. Halfback Anthony Branch scored 2 touchdowns and rushed for 122 yards on 9 tries to lead the Alamogordo offense which finished the night with 202 yards rushing.
It was the Tiger defense that controlled the tempo., holding Del Norte to 94 yards on the ground.
Del Norte which finished the year 7-4 got inside the Tiger 25-yard line 6 times but was held each time.
At the 6:36 mark in the 2nd Quarter the Tiger’s offense took off.
Greg Davis took a punt and zipped his way through the Del Norte defense 66 yards.
The Tigers struck back again 4 minutes later in the 2nd quarter after only 2 plays. Quarterback Greg Stephens hit Tony Gonzalez with a 25-yard throw to key the drive. Then it was Anthony Branch who strolled through the Del Norte defense for a 44-yard touchdown.
Branch struck gold again at the &15 in the 3rd Quarter capping a 5-play drive, this time going 39 years in the 3rd Quarter to give the Alamogordo Tigers a 21-0 lead.
Alamogordo scored once more in the 4th Quarter at 7:15 when Fullback Scotty Pierce ran from 1 yard out.
Brad Adams who had only missed 2 conversion kicks in 11 games, was 4 for 4 for the night.
Stephens finished the night with 104 yards with 7 of 9 completions. Gonzalez was 2nd in the Tiger rushing department with 50 yards in 9 tries. Gonzales let the Tigers in receptions with 34 yards and 2 tries with Branch with 32 yards and 1 catch and finally Wilson Holland with 30 yards in 3 catches.
Matt Fleming of the Tigers was injured with an
Ankle sprain that came from an illegal block that was not called.
Team spirit and community support was at an all-time high going into the Tigers attempt at victory in the State Semi-finals AAAA competition in football. The Mayor of Alamogordo declared Tiger Pride Day in a mayoral proclamation for Friday November 29, 1985. The proclamation noted the historic record set by Alamogordo setting a record in the schools 71-year history. It went on to congratulate the team for showing outstanding teamwork and sportsmanship, plus being good representatives of Alamogordo for the state tournament.
Alamogordo moved into the semi-finals to compete against Albuquerque Highland High School hosted at Alamogordo. The game garnered so much support the band was moved to the field instead of the stands and extra temporary bleachers were erected to expand crowd capacity.
Due to the excitement and the seriousness of play extra security was dispatched and the opposing team received a police escort in and out of town along with assistance of the state police. KOB had circulated some stories in newscast of overly rambunctious fans on the Alamogordo side potentially creating havoc or having potentially created havoc in the quarterfinals game. Investigations occurred and it was deemed a non-issue.
Alamogordo secured a win in the semi-finals against Albuquerque Highlands with a score of 28-6 adding a 12 straight game record to the Alamogordo books. Alamogordo’s season was thus 12-0 verses Highland finishing a 7-5 season.
The leader on the night was Alamogordo fullback Scotty Pierce. Pierce scored all 4 touchdowns. He ran in from 3 yards out and 3 times from 1 yard out. He finished with 69 yards and 16 carries. He also passed the ball of 22 yards on a key play early in the game.
After controlling the ball through most of the 1st Quarter, Alamogordo took an early lead in the opening seconds of the 2nd Quarter, when Pierce competed an 18 play, 80-yard drive with a 3-yard plunge on 4th down.
Brad Adams added the extra point- the first of 4 on the night.
Later in the quarter, two Highland errors directly led to Tiger scores.
Alamogordo took advantage of a short punt deep in Highland’s territory to set up Pierce’s first 1-yard run, making it 14-0. Alamogordo struck at the 8:44 mark.
The Tigers struck 2 minutes later when following Tiger David Bailey’s interception of a Garrett Young pass, Anthony Branch returned it to the Highland 1 yard line. Pierce scored on a 1-yard run and Adams’s kick made it 21-0 at the 6:15 point.
Pierce gave the Tigers their final score with another 1-yard run in the opening seconds of the 4th quarter.
Highland Coach Bill Gentry credited the Tiger win to the teams “rolling right.” “Alamo did the right things”, he concluded in a recap conversation about his team’s loss. Alamogordo quarterback, Greg Stephens completed 9 of 17 passes for 134 yards with Wilson Holland catching 3 for 34 yards and Anthony Branch catching 3 for 59 yards. Jesse Harris was second behind Pierce in the rushing department with 35 yards on 7 runs.
On the negative side, Alamo lost 2 fumbles and was flagged for 8 penalties for over 80 yards. The overall game was a huge victory for Alamogordo and placed them 1 game away from a historic 1st State Title as a AAAA competition. Going into the state finals with Clovis was Coach Gary Hveem’s 200th game coaching. His career average going into the finals was 142 wins, 54 losses and 3 ties. At Alamogordo he had 10 years of coaching with 77 wins, 32 losses and 2 ties.
So close but No Cigar
The Clovis Wildcats behind their powerful offense keyed by senior running back Daren Kelley and a defense that was playing for pride and a measure of revenge, crushed the Alamogordo Tigers 36-12 for the State Football Title. The Tigers had to again settle for a state second place trophy.
A bet between Clovis Mayor, Frank Murray, who bet a bushel of grain that Clovis would win verses Alamogordo
Mayor Don Carroll, with a bushel of apples that Alamogordo would win. Unfortunately, the apples carried the bet, and were handed to the Clovis Mayor by Alamogordo Mayor Don Carroll pictured.
Even in the face of a loss the Tiger fans were full of enthusiasm and proud their boys got a 2nd Place State Trophy.
Coach Gary Hveem & Co-Captains Anthony Branch and Tony Gonzalez claimed the state runner up trophy marking the winningest season in the history of Tiger football.
(Photo’s courtesy Alamogordo News.)
“It’s tough,” said the wife of Tiger Coach Gary Hveem, Ms. Fran Hveem. Her husband had been chasing the New Mexico class AAAA state football title for 10 years. For the 2nd time in that decade, the title escaped his grasp in a title game and historically was the 2nd time in the school’s history as a class AAAA school.
Former New Mexico State Senator Aubrey Dunn commented to the Alamogordo News, “The team played
great all year. These were two of the greatest teams in the state without question.”
Chuck Montjoy another fan and supporter of the Tiger team said, “the team played terrific, the boys had a super season they are still #1 in my book.”
The community was hungry for a win with a record 10,000 plus crowd in the stands filling both side and additional bleachers brought in for the game.
The community showed support before the game and after. Trinity Lutheran Church Reverend Charles Ullman expressed, “this was a great opportunity for people to set aside their problems and unify around the local community.” One fan Rex (Doc) Hutchinson told the Alamogordo News, he had a dream that the Tigers won 39-6. The dream did not quite turn out as he envisioned as the final score was 36-12.
Sue DeWolf one of the Tiger fans at the game that night told the Alamogordo News editor Mike Lamb as reported in the December 8th edition, that she had been supporting the Tiger Football program for over 30 years and every time she came to the game, she carried an exceptionally large stuffed Tiger with her. She said, “Every game he is with me, any bigger and they’d probably make me purchase a ticket for him” She was a determined fan indeed.
Toots Green, state representative for Alamogordo at the time was at the game. He thought it was great Clovis was playing as that was his hometown but game night for the state title in 1986, he said he was, “rooting for Alamogordo.”
State Senator Bill Vandergriff was in attendance and stated, “I think this is the greatest game for Alamogordo in 50 years. I do not think they have to be ashamed of anything, win or lose. There has been particularly good sportsmanship. I saw no problems on the field at all and the team is the best Alamogordo has put forward over the past 50 years.”
Alamogordo Athletic Director Glen Markham said of the game, “It was a tremendous first half, I would like to have seen the game end at the half and call it quits in victory, whatever the outcome the team made Alamogordo proud.” Alamogordo ended the 1st half ahead 12-9.
The Alamogordo game garnered attention not only in New Mexico but also in distant lands. Dickie Johnson, who was living at the Beirut Hilton in Beirut Lebanon who grew up in Clovis called the Alamogordo Daily News Sports office multiple times during the game from Beirut asking for updates on the game. Dickie had a connection to Clovis and the district as he was the quarterback for the championship team of 1966 and was happy with the outcome of this state competition. Johnson also played for the University of Texas when they were national champions in 1969 so he had a deep interest in regional football. Johnson was working in the oil industry is why he was in the middle east in 1986 or he said he would have been at the game.
The game was awesome in two strong teams competed and gave their all. The night however favored Clovis sparked by the running feet of Darren Kelley and the Wildcat team took advantage of every opportunity presented to it.
Kelly rushed for 228 yards on 29 carries on the day to lead the Cats to a stunning 418 yards on the ground. His performance passed 2000 yards for the season in rushing and crashing though the Alamogordo Tiger defense which had limited past opponents to an average of under 10 points a game.
“You are champions. Be proud of what have done, not disappointed. This has been my best year in coaching over 22 years,” Coach Gary Hveem told his Tiger team moments after the game ended. He concluded, “Hold your heads high. We had a great record-breaking season. The best team may have won today, but not the best guys.”
The Tigers were strong the 1st half carrying a 12-9 lead after scoring a beautiful 66-yard pass from Quarterback Greg Stephens to Anthony Branch at 9:36 mark in the first period, and then a 3-yard pass from Stephens to Wilson Holland at 3:35 in the second.
Not to be outdone, Clovis scored at 6:15 in the opening segment on an 18-yard run by Quarterback Drooper Greenwalt, and then Charles Deckard kicked a 36-yard field goal at the 7:05 point in the second quarter.
Things started to fall apart for the Alamogordo Tigers in the 3rd quarter as several little things
Combined to break the backs of the Tigers winning streak.
Clovis’s Kelley scored on an 8-yard run at 8:45 in the period to give Clovis a 15-12 lead. In the next Tiger drive, Stephens was sacked at 7:09 to halt momentum.
When Alamogordo again got the ball, a pass from Stephens to Tony Gonzales was intercepted, and then a short time later Alamo was hit for a holding penalty to further slow the drive.
Wildcat Sam Dickery grabbed another Stephens pass at the 1:54 point to give Clovis the spark needed. Greenwalt kept his cool and the ball and less than a minute later ran 54 yards deep into Alamogordo’s territory to set up the next score.
Clovis’s Ron Cook then scampered in from the 2-yard line and Deckard added the extra point to set the kill.
The Tiger boys struggled valiantly in the 4th quarter but the fire of the last 13 wins was gone.
A pass from Alamogordo’s Stephens to Holland was broken up at the 10:15 mark with Stephens and Duece Sullivan shaken up on the play. Reserve Quarterback Terry Davis came in – but the Alamogordo team could not keep control and Anthony Hall strolled in from 80 yards at the 7:36 point. Deckard’s kick was good.
Clovis clobbered a Stephens pass again and forward motion slowed.
Kelley of Clovis ran in one more score at 1:54 which combined with Deckard’s kick closed the door permanently to a state victory by the Alamogordo Tigers.
The Alamogordo Tigers went into the state finals with a 12-0 season after finishing the first season in the schools 71-year history of football in 1986. This was a first in its history undefeated and untied. Clovis got into the playoffs thanks to Alamogordo’s district championship over Roswell and had to travel to Santa Fe and Cibola to make it to the finals.
For the game Alamogordo’s lead rusher was Scotty Pierce with 37 yards in 10 tries. Jesse Harris was right behind with 34 yards in 6 runs.
On the night, Alamo’s Stephens passed for 137 yards, making 10 of 22 tries with 4 interceptions.
Anthony Branch was Stephen’s favorite receiver with 64 yards in 3 catches, and Tony Gonzalez was second with one 44-yard grab. Wilson Holland had 22 yards on four tries.
Strong play was shown by Terrance Roberts, Ruby Rivera, and Matt Fleming.
“Fans on both sides for 3 hours had nothing to think about but football, I am personally just excited for the kids and a good clean game,” said Clovis Coach, Eric Roanhaus.
The season was the best season in the career of Coach Gary Hveem while at Alamogordo. Gary Hveem maintains the record as the longest tenured varsity football coach for Alamogordo High. He also continues to hold the record, of the coach with the most state football trophies – 2 of the 3, Alamogordo owned 2nd Place State AAAA trophies, that Alamogordo holds, were secured during his tenure.
The irony of the season, Alamogordo was undefeated, but the record also played against the team when it came to state playoffs.
Gary Hveem told AP Sportswriter, Pete Herrera of the 1986 state finals, “I knew all along it would come to this – to a football civil war punctuated by touch of irony and a ton of pressure.”
The seasons ironic twist is that had it not been for an assist from Alamogordo 3 weeks prior, Clovis would not have been in the finals and Clovis would not have been chasing their bid for a record 5th straight state championship.
By beating Roswell on the final week of regular season, Alamogordo clinched the district 4AAAA title but in the process handed Clovis the runner up spot in the district and a berth in the playoffs.
Coach Hveem to the AP, “I knew all along it would be Clovis in the state finals. I’m glad, that the actual best 2 teams, in the state in 86, got to settle the title.”
Coach Hveem and the Alamogordo boys were trying to do what has never been done to Clovis Coach Eric Roanhaus’s team, which was “to beat them twice in the same year.” Alamogordo beat Clovis 12-7 in district play.
Clovis Coach, Roanhaus throughout the season had downplayed the significance of being in the running for a potential 5th straight AAAA State Varsity Football Title. He was equally complimentary of Alamogordo and did not want to underestimate their abilities or those of Alamogordo’s Coach Gary Hveem. Roanhaus told the AP’s Pete Herrera, “They (Alamogordo) team members were playing better in the championships than when they at any time in memory. That was a team that was a credible threat and each of those boys should be proud of their efforts.”
Coach Hveem’s legacy was that of the longest tenured football coach in Alamogordo’s history. His legacy also continues to this day, as the winningest coach and the only football coach in its 109-year history to compete in the finals for 2 state titles in 4AAAA play. Though, during his tenure the team never brought home the 1st Place State Trophy, of the 4 State Football Trophies that Alamogordo received in its’ 109-year history, 2 2nd Place State Trophies belong to the decade of Coach Hveem’s leadership. During the 2006 season Alamogordo Varsity Football won a 2nd Place trophy under Coach Bruce Dollar.
The NMAA has awarded one 1st Place New Mexico State Football Title to Alamogordo. It was under Coach Rolla Buck in 1950 when Alamogordo won it as a class B school. In 1950 there were 3 divisions Class A, B and C.
While remembering the past of the glory days of the 1985 football season and Greg Stephen’s lest we not forget the title of the article,from the roots of Alamogordo High School athletics, excellence is handed from one generation to the next –and the successes of his daughter Madeline Stephens
Greg Stephen’s of Alamogordo Football stardom has an incredibly talented young daughter Madeline Stephens. A student in Texas she has proven herself to be an extremely talented Hammer, Shot, Javelin and Discus Throw competitor. To the point she qualified to compete in the USATF Junior Olympics Regional finals in Texas in the Hammer Throw event.
As we edge through Olympic trials and head toward the Olympics in Japan it is worth noting that the USA Track and Field Junior Olympics are moving forward as well. With roots tracing back to Ancient Greece, track & field is the centerpiece of the Olympic Games. From the 100-meter dash to the discus throw, hammer throw etc. athletes set new standards for excellence in sport. USATF’s Junior Olympic Track & Field program is a wellspring of this excellence.
America’s next generation of track & field stars compete throughout the summer–and over 6,000 of these athletes qualify for the USATF National Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships held during the last week of July. Entry for the national championship is based on athlete performances at preliminary, Association, and regional levels.
And so, for Greg Stephen’s the legacy of athleticism has shown it does carry down from one generation to the next, as his daughter Madeline Stephens Qualified and Won 1st Place at Regionals in the Hammer Throw.
As an 8th grader this is an awesome achievement and one of which Mr. and Mrs. Stephen’s should be proud but equally proud of course is Coach Gary Hveem and Alamogordo High Schools Winningest Track and Field Coach in its history, Coach Bob Sepulveda as well as the Alamogordo community as well as her Texas community.
Congratulation Madeline, your fathers star burned bright in Alamogordo and beyond, but we have great expectations that your star may shine even brighter, with your demonstrated excellence and talent at such an early age. We wish you the absolute best on your journey at the USA Track and Field junior Olympics finals. Know deep in your heart you have fans all over the country rooting for your success.
Have fun, take in the moments before you and know, though not officially a Tiger, Tiger blood and Tiger Spirits is within you!
The History of the Alamogordo Class of 1985 is an excerpt from the book, Coach Bob Sepulveda & Gary Hveem, Alamogordo’s Golden Years, by Authors Chris Edwards & Rene Sepulveda, to be released August 30, 2021, at Roadrunner Emporium, 928 New York Avenue, Alamogordo, New Mexico, and at independent bookstores and Amazon.com in 46 countries worldwide.
Details of Madeline Stephen’s courtesy of USA Track & Field.
Author Chris Edwards, 2nd Life Media Inc.