Phil Leger knows all about the excitement of playing in Vegas Bowl. As a quarterback for the Robertson Cardinals, Leger was a key player on an RHS squad that enjoyed considerable success against crosstown rival West Las Vegas in the late 1980s. In one memorable performance, Leger threw multiple touchdown passes in Vegas Bowl 1988, downing the Dons 39-0. That was early in a string of 10 consecutive wins in the East-West game for the Redbirds. Now, as head coach of the Memorial Middle School football team, Leger retains the enthusiasm for the gridiron and the annual East-West matchup. And his young players share in that feeling. Earlier this week, as the team prepared for Thursday, the opportunity to take the field at Cardinal Stadium was just about all anyone could talk about. Regardless of what happens this week, it’s been a wildly successful season for MMS. Much in the same vein as its RHS varsity counterpart, the team has been stingy on defense, limiting opponents to a combined 14 points through six games. Four of those wins were shutouts. And the offense only failed to break the 40-point mark once. Memorial’s resumé to date: a 50-0 romp over Pojoaque, a 40-0 shutout of Raton, a 46-8 defeat of Mora, a 54-0 blowout of St. Michael’s, an 18-0 win over De Vargas, and a 48-6 decision over Taos... Leger, whose staff includes Rick Armijo and Estevan Montaño, took the helm of the middle school program after a successful run coaching Young American Football Leaguers.
If the West Las Vegas football program is in building mode, the Green and Gold faithful must be pleased with the blueprints being drafted up by the middle school team that figures to be the near future for WLV. Much like the middle school’s feeder program in baseball looks to help ensure a solid high school varsity for years to come, the WLVMS Gents offer promise to Dons fans everywhere. Guiding the Gents is Robert Alarcon, a veteran assistant to the football program and other sports (he’s the head wrestling coach as well). His crew includes Ryan Gabaldon and Abe Ulibarri, also experienced coaches. If Thursday night’s “Vegas Bowl Junior” pans out the way some pundits figure, the game could be a thriller that comes down to the final quarter. That’s not necessarily bad news for the Gents, who proved they could win close in a 20-16 nailbiter win over Tucumcari. The rest of the WLVMS victories haven’t been so close. The Gents beat Taos 28-0, rocked St. Michael’s 48-0, blitzed Española Valley 63-0 and trumped Pojoaque 28-0. One important ingredient to West Middle School’s success this season could be chemistry. Many of the team members — coaches and players alike — have worked together for a while now, not only on the gridiron but in summer Little League seasons... Kickoff for “Vegas Bowl Junior” is set for 6 p.m. Thursday at Robertson’s Cardinal Stadium. The game was rescheduled to accommodate Meadow City fans expected to check out the big game.