by Dan Ford
THE BEST DEFENSE EVER — 1980 CUBA RAMS
Cuba doesn’t have much of a football reputation or history. They last made the playoffs in 2008 and have a dismal 2-16-1 record in all playoff games. But they hold the modern day record for defensive scoring average in New Mexico, giving up only 12 points in 10 games for an average of 1.2ppg in that magical season of 1980 for the Cuba Rams.
Back in the day, prior to the playoffs in 1953 which marks the beginning of the modern era, it was not unusual for teams to shut out opponents in those days of low scoring events. Roswell High went three years in the early 1920s without giving up a point. The last team to go the entire season without allowing a point was the 1941 Menaul Panthers. They played 9 games and one of those was a 0-0 tie.
In 1980 the Cuba Rams set a record that will likely never be broken. Today in this era of mammoth offensive efforts in which a half dozen teams will average over 40ppg, defenses don’t seem to be emphasized. The best scoring average in the state in 2014 was actually in double digits.
The amazing thing about this record for Cuba is not only just giving up a few points but also because they did not even reach the semi-finals. Game #10 was against defending AA champions Estancia. The game was played in Cuba. Cuba scored in the first quarter and I can only imagine they expected a shutout and that one score might be enough. But Estancia scored early in the fourth stanza and held on for a 6-6 tie. Ties were broken by penetrations (trips to the red zone) and Estancia had two on the day with Cuba amassing only one. It was a quarterfinal match and Estancia advanced against Jal in the semi-finals (Jal would win and go on to upset #1 ranked Moriarty in the championship).
So, with a 9-0-1 record in which they allowed only 12 points, Cuba has the record for the best scoring defense since 1941 but no blue trophy to commemorate it’s success. Amazing!
3 SAFETIES IN A GAME …. ACTUALLY ALL IN THE SAME QUARTER!
St. Marys High School in downtown Albuquerque was a legendary school from the 1920s until its closure in 1967. It was the principal rival of Albuquerque High when the Bulldogs were the only public school in the Duke City.
On October 23, 1942 they played Belen. The Cougars of St. Marys won the game 13-6. They scored six of their points the hard way, with three safeties. That is amazing, but consider also that all 19 points in that game were scored in the third quarter! Consider also that it was the only win of the abbreviated war-time schedule of seven games for the Cougars and that they only scored three touchdowns in the season. That’s right; they had as many safeties as touchdowns in the 1942 season.
Now safeties were not entirely rare in those days. The long snap was not perfected and a punt from the end zone was as likely to be blocked as punted away, resulting in teams taking a safety rather than risk a block and TD.
But three in a quarter?! Amazing.
CARLSBAD FINISHES 10-0-1, DOESN’T MAKE PLAYOFFS.
In 1971 only the league champs qualified for the playoffs. Then, as now, an argument could be made that a runner-up in the southern part of the state might be the second best in the state, but didn’t get a chance to prove it.
In District 4AAAA there were five teams; Hobbs, Carlsbad, Roswell, Clovis and Goddard. Early in the district play Hobbs and Carlsbad tied, 21-21. Both teams would finish the league schedule at 3-0-1.
In 1971 ties were decided first on penetrations inside the 20 yard line and, if that was tied, it would go to first downs.
With 8,000 fans watching in Carlsbad, the game was tied at 14-14 until the Eagles scored with 3:44 left in the game. Carlsbad came back to score with 1:44 left. They each had three penetrations and Carlsbad had the most first downs. So, they kicked the extra point and settled for a 21-21 tie. But they didn’t count on Hobbs in the final minute when they completed a 10 yard pass to put them inside the 20 and the deciding penetration.
Incidentally, Billy Dallas of the Lovington Daily Leader almost got it right. He predicted a Carlsbad victory, 21-20.
Hobbs would win the league and advance to the semi-finals where they lost to eventual champion Mayfield. The Eagles 9-2-1 record was marred only by the Mayfield loss and a one-point decision to Amarillo Palo Duro.
For the Cavemen, they would finish 10-0-1. Besides Hobs, they had one touchdown wins over Roswell and Pecos, Texas but otherwise outscored their other eight opponents an average of 40 to 4.
The 1971 episode between Hobbs and Carlsbad fueled the argument that runners-up should be added to the playoff picture. And so it was that in 1973 a second place team was added in all classifications. Kind of amazing!