Dec. 2—It appears the Capital-Santa Fe High football rivalry will be renewed at the district level next fall.
When the New Mexico Activities Association unveils its classification and alignment plan for the two-year block starting with the 2022-23 school year at its board of directors meeting Thursday morning, Capital is expected to be in Class 6A for football.
Capital head football coach Joaquin Garcia and Santa Fe High head coach Andrew Martinez said they learned the Jaguars will be playing at the state's highest classification and will be district mates.
Santa Fe Public Schools athletic director Marc Ducharme did not confirm the information, saying he will wait for the NMAA's announcement Thursday morning.
Martinez said Capital will be placed in a district that includes crosstown rival Santa Fe High, Albuquerque High, Clovis, and Los Lunas. Capital and Los Lunas are among three programs moving up from 5A, along with Farmington, since their three-year enrollment figures moved above the 1,450-student threshold for 6A.
Martinez said he learned Albuquerque Manzano is slated to drop down to 5A, which will give 6A 20 district-competing teams. Given the five-team size of the new district, it appears the NMAA will form four five-team districts.
Ducharme said he heard Capital might move to 6A, he was worried it would have to play Albuquerque schools La Cueva, Eldorado and Sandia like Santa Fe High did this fall.
"I was worried at first, that they were going to have to play the same teams," Ducharme said. "I was like, 'Oh, crap. They have to play La Cueva and Eldorado?' They would be crushed. Then somebody sent me the new district, and I was like, 'That's not so bad.' "
Garcia said he liked the new district configuration because the Jaguars will be able to compete better in it. If the program wants to be successful, however, it will have to play the likes of La Cueva, Rio Rancho or Rio Rancho Cleveland.
"We gotta compete, no matter what," Garcia said. "With the new district and us bumping up [to 6A], we got to prepare and get bigger, faster, stronger. It's not a perfect world. I feel like we could easily still be in 5A, but when we got bumped up, we knew that we got to be able to compete. We're not just going to lie down and let people beat us."
The last time the two schools were in the same football district was from 2018-19, when Santa Fe High moved down from a 6A independent program to 5A. The two schools have been district foes in all other sports since 2018.
Martinez and Garcia said they are excited to have the city rivalry have district implications, like it did in 2019 when they faced off for the District 2/6-5A title at Jaguar Field. Capital won, 28-0.
"It brings the city together, as far as supporting the public schools," Garcia said. "And if we were able to both get to the playoffs, that would be great. I don't know if that has ever been done. [It hasn't]."
Another advantage to the new district configuration is that it gives teams two extra nondistrict games. Santa Fe High played six District 2/5-6A games this fall, giving it just four nondistrict opponents. Since Capital and St. Michael's are regulars on the nondistrict schedule, it left two slots for the Demons to fill.
Martinez said both teams actually pick up a third game since their rivalry game now is a part of the district schedule. He said he is hunting for 5A and 6A teams to play in order to improve the quality of opponents.
"We want to make sure we don't have a six-game schedule that is just brutal," Martinez said. "We'll manage the schedule thinking about the health of the team and other things, but we are going to bolster our schedule and look at some really good football teams.
"It's going to be a different schedule."