by Mike Magers
Animas, NM (Hidalgo County) holds the state record for consecutive wins in football at 69 games, set in 1990. The origin of the name of the Animas community is unknown, though the Animas Mountains and Animas Valley are located nearby. The first known settlement of Animas dates back to 1843, when Hispanic settlers came to the area. It was also known to be inhabited at various times by the Apache Indians.
Animas fielded its first football team in 1975, shortly after the Phelps Dodge Corporation opened a copper smelting plant in nearby Playas. The enrollment increased quickly and brought the school to the AA classification where it remained until the smelter was closed in the late 1990s. Animas has more recently competed at the 8-Man and 6-Man level, as of this writing.At the time of the state record consecutive winning streak, Animas was in pursuit of the national record of 72 games set by East Hudson High of Michigan, which record has since been surpassed several times [see update below]. Animas had ended the 1984 season in a 7-7 tie with Tularosa in the AA state championship final. The team went undefeated the next five seasons (1985-1989) and another eight games into the 1990 season before losing to Lordsburg by the score of 9-8. The loss was Animas’ only defeat that season and they finished by downing Lordsburg 36-0 for the AA state championship, their sixth outright consecutive AA title and their seventh counting the co-championship in 1984, also a standing state record.
During the streak, Animas was coached by Bill Henson who had been at the school since 1981. His record that first year was 1-6-1. Henson reportedly built the lockers in the field house and the weight room floors were made of discarded conveyor belts. He was admired in Animas for his even temper and his ability to coax the best out of the teenagers. He treated the players with respect, people said, calling them men and never publicly criticizing them.
Animas’s New Mexico 69 game winning streak will likely stand for a long time. The next team on the list is Gadsden with 34 wins. The most current challenger was Santa Rosa whose winning streak ended at 29 with its 2013 state championship loss to district rival Clayton.
Individual and team records for the state of New Mexico can be viewed here:
UPDATE as of 2/13/14:
Consecutive wins in football per NFHS, National Federation of State High School Associations:
151 Concord De La Salle, CA (1992-2003)
109 Charlotte Independence, NC (2000-07)
74 Maryville, TN (2004-08)
72 Hudson, MI (1968-75)
71 Jefferson City, MO (1958-66)
69 Animas, NM (1984-90)
68 Celina, TX (68-0-0), 1998-2002
66 Pittsburg St. Mary’s Colgan, KS (1999-2004)
64 Pittsfield, IL (1966-73)
64 Picayune George Washington Carver, MS (1958-65)