Rusty Evans is hoping to do at Las Cruces' new high school what Piedra Vista has been able to do in a short period of time in Farmington.
Evans left the Panthers' baseball team this summer after serving as the pitchers and catchers coach under head coach Mike McGaha the previous three seasons. He accepted a job as the head coach of new 4A high school, Centennial.
In his three years with McGaha at Piedra Vista, Evans watched two of the pitchers he coached, Jake McCasland and Dominic Moreno, sign Division I offers and both catchers, Morgan McCasland and Kholeton Sanchez, accept junior college scholarships. He also won three state titles.
"To leave Farmington, it had to be a special place and a special offer as well as a place where I felt we could do things similar to what is done in Farmington," Evans said. "My time at PV was special. Those guys don't come up year in and year out. Those are once in a lifetime players and we were fortunate to get those kids at one time. I hope to see some more of those kids down here. Definitely the work ethic those kids instilled and put forth is what I would like to see down here."
Evans is a 1996 graduate of Farmington High School. After college, Evans taught at FHS for 10 years while also coaching FHS baseball at multiple capacities. Evans was on the Scorps' staff while the team won four state titles.
"Evans and I got hired at Farmington High at the same time. I was the C-team coach there and he was my assistant there for three years," said McGaha. "When I got promoted, he got promoted to the head C-team job. Through our coaching careers, I was kind of put in charge of mentoring Evans by Don Lorett. It was logical for him to follow me and supplement the staff at PV under the idea that he and I worked together all but two years at FHS."
Evans credited McGaha and Lorett for bringing him up and preparing him to be a head coach.
"I owe basically everything to them. They really taught me what it is like to coach and really invest and build a program that is successful year in and year out," Evans said. "Those qualities and being around championships all the time makes it motivating to go out and work."
Evans will coach in a district against Chaparral, Deming and Santa Teresa. He said some aspects of joining on with a new school have been an "adventure," but he is encouraged by a good turnout already during fall workouts.
"Being at a brand new schools comes with a whole lot of trying to find equipment here and there, but our numbers are good so everything is going well," he said. "We have anywhere from 30 to 35 kids showing up everyday. I don't have a baseball class like we have in Farmington, but we are getting a good offseason program going after classes."
While Evans is trying to build a baseball team in a football town, Clay Foster is happy to take Evans' place in a baseball town after spending several years as the head coach at football-crazed Artesia.
"It was just by chance that we were able to get a guy with Foster's experience to come up here and join us," McGaha said. "We lost a top-end guy in Evans, and we had the decision of going out and finding a young guy and having him learn his way through the program, or going out and getting a top-end guy to fill it out."
Foster's Bulldogs teams averaged 18 wins a season, and McGaha is excited about adding a coach with his pedigree.
Though the teams aren't scheduled to play at all this season, Evans would love to see the Farmington teams again in the state tournament someday.
"We aren't as free to schedule games down here, but playing PV or FHS again at Ricketts Park would be a lot of fun," Evans said. "You always would like to see where you measure up with the powerhouse teams in the state. Hopefully one day I can at least see them in the state tournament."