Title game site yet to be determined

By Will Webber wwebber@sfnewmexican.com



Santa Fe New Mexican



This much is certain: There will be a football state championship game played Saturday somewhere in Santa Fe. As of late Monday, no one seems to know where it will be. In what is becoming a familiar dance between Santa Fe Public Schools and St. Michael’s, the use of Santa Fe High’s Ivan Head Stadium for championship games involving the Horsemen is once again on everyone’s mind. St. Michael’s (10-2) will host this year’s Class 3A title game against district rival Robertson (10-2) at 1 p.m. Saturday. The Horsemen play their home games at the Christian Brothers Athletic Complex, a venue that seats just over 1,000 fans on the private school campus. On most game days, it’s plenty of space for fans from both teams. About a mile west down Siringo Road sits Ivan Head Stadium, Santa Fe High’s spacious 6,000-seat facility that is considered to be one of the best football venues in New Mexico. Its steep grandstands and enclosed north end zone provide a measure of protection from the elements while offering ideal sightlines for fans. The decision on when to play Saturday’s game is not in doubt. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. The actual site could be determined as early as Tuesday when Santa Fe Public Schools meets with administrators from St. Michael’s to hammer out a potential deal. The fact that a site hadn’t been announced as of Monday was not unusual in the least. A similar deal was struck five days before last year’s state championship game between St. Mike’s and Ruidoso. A spokesman for SFPS declined to comment Monday on Superintendent Larry “Hilario” Chavez’s behalf. St. Michael’s athletic director Josh Grine responded through a text, saying, “No official word yet,” on the facility. This will be the Horsemen’s seventh appearance in the state championship under head coach Joey Fernandez. Four previous games have been played in Santa Fe, all of them at Ivan Head. Fernandez said he thinks the city deserves the best facility available, and for football, there’s no better place than Santa Fe High’s enclosed horseshoe stadium. “It’s the biggest game of the year and the kids and fans deserve the best,” he said after his team shut out New Mexico Military Institute over the weekend in the semifinals. “Like I said, big game — let’s do what’s best for everybody.” Dusty Young, New Mexico Activities Association associate director, said Monday the decision ultimately falls to the host school, not the governing body for high school sports. The NMAA will intervene only if asked to do so by St. Michael’s. “At the end of the day, it’s their decision,” Young said. “They’ve earned the right to host the game.”