On Saturday night the New Mexico Wildcats of the
their inaugural home game 63-46 to the Arizona Adrenaline, but that's
real story. The story is a football fans getting together for
football! While it isn't "the Arena football league", it was Arena
the first time in Rio Rancho/Albuquerque. Can't quite picture it… let
sitting in an arena with over 4200 fans. The lights
go down and a spotlight goes up. Ladies and Gentleman please welcome
Wildcat mascot "BO" the dog; cue the theme song Atomic Dog. Wow I
goose bumps. Please stay standing for Ms. Rio Rancho will be singing
national anthem. Everyone has their giveaway blue New Mexico Wildcats
and they are throwing t-shirts and mini footballs into the stands. I've
arena and NFL games before and must admit the atmosphere was exciting.
Ok let's get to the game, the Arizona Adrenaline win the toss and receive the ball. The Wildcats kick off team kicks from there own end zone and viola we have Arena Football in New Mexico. It's a fast, hard hitting and high scoring game that is just plain fun!
A couple of the stars
on the team are wide receiver Darren
Haliburton of Southern Florida. Haliburton is flat out a playmaker and
the leaders on offense for the Wildcats. On the other side is New Mexico State's own Shukre Shabazz playing DB. Shabazz is not only a ball
but he will lay out any receiver that finds himself in Shabazz's
and let's not forget QB Ronnie Simpson who is a dynamic duo threat QB.
the things that are noticeable is that these guys are putting their
every play. This is their shot! Any hopes of moving into a higher level
Arena football or the NFL starts right here in Rio Rancho and these
play like it!
The Wildcats fell behind early, but the aggressiveness and quick play kept the fans into the game. At halftime the Wildcats were down by thirteen points and the crowd was electric, it was so loud you couldn't here the announcer! At the end of the third the score was 35-34 Adrenaline. In arena football every ball that leaves the playing field is a souvenir for a lucky fan, so when you hit the Star Center make sure you keep your head up for an official IAFA football. I spoke with Wildcat fan Bill Baker who told me "I'm going back just to try and get one of those footballs". They footballs are prized and people were even diving into other fans just to grab one, creating yet another game within the game. 65 were sent into the stands Saturday night!
Back to actual game on the field and the highlight of the night… For those of you that don't know Arizona and New Mexico have the makings of a great rivalry. There has been quite an amount of trash talking in the Arizona papers, and the Adrenaline have been ripping the Wildcats on a regular basis! Is there bad blood? You bet! And that bad blood hit the field as the hard hitting the hitting Shukre Shabazz knocked out an Adrenaline WR cold with a hit that would have fallen a receiver at any level!
The night ended with the Wildcats falling to the Adrenaline for a 3rd straight time, but the bad blood is still boiling… post game comments Shabazz said, "He might have gotten three touchdowns but I bet he doesn't remember them."
My final analysis, the game was great, yes the expansion Wildcats lost… But looking at the event itself… I had a lot of fun, as did the other folks that went out to Santa Ana Star Center. The football was good and it doesn't cost that much. So I guess what I'm trying to say is I'm on the Wildcat bandwagon hope others climb aboard as well as the Arena game is a blast!
See ya soon