Bloomfield Bobcats football turns to familiar face in quest of another title run
Season begins Aug. 20 against St. Pius at Bobcat Stadium
BLOOMFIELD — Taking over a football program is a difficult enough task for a head coach.
Taking over a football program coming off three consecutive championship runs brings many unique challenges as well.
The task of winning games is difficult enough for a coach, much less a team. This is even more so when the team has gotten used to being in a chase for a championship.
The Bloomfield Bobcats will have a new head coach this season, but Mike Kovacs is a very familiar face to those who have followed the team over the past several years.
The former offensive coordinator took over as head coach shortly after the Bobcats lost the Class 4A state championship by a score of 37-19 to Lovington.
Kovacs, who has served as offensive coordinator for the past three seasons under coach Bob Allcorn, was largely responsible for running the up-tempo offense that saw the Bobcats score 968 points in both the 2018 and 2019 seasons, which ended with the team reaching back-to-back state championship games.
Those strong seasons resulted in Bloomfield playing for the state title, nearly bringing home the championship trophy in 2019, achieving a record of 12-1 in 2019 before losing in the title game to Portales 23-0. Prior to that, Bloomfield lost the state title game to Taos 14-7 after a record of 9-5 in the 2018 season.
And despite the challenges of a shortened spring 2021 season, which included modified practices and limited training time, the Bobcats made a strong bid in their third straight appearance in a championship game.
Kovacs believes the team is ready for another serious bid at the state title, and that task will begin on Friday, Aug. 20, when the Bobcats open the new season against St. Pius at Bobcat Stadium.
“We’ve got some great returning players coming back for us, and some great individuals on our coaching staff that I believe we’re going to be very tough once again,” Kovacs said.
Before he arrived at Bloomfield at 2017, Kovacs was offensive coordinator at Navajo Prep (2013-14) and Farmington High (2015-16), and also worked as an assistant at Aztec High from 2006 to 2012.
Kovacs, a 1987 Bloomfield High graduate, is excited for the opportunity to be the coach to get this team back to the title game.
"I've been lucky to find such great kids and great people to work with," Kovacs said. "Getting the job is such a great opportunity, now we have to go out there and get back to winning games."
With the return of wide receiver Mark Armenta, Kovacs believes the offense will be strong once again as they embark on another run for a District 1-4A title.
“It’s such an exciting district we play in every year,” Kovacs said. “Our goals always remain in the same, and that’s to finish the season as district champs and hope we can make another strong run.”
The challenges of a spring season earlier this year as a result of restrictions put into place across the county and the state as a result of coronavirus — in which the Bobcats won their only district game against their longtime rival Aztec Tigers — may have benefits coming into this upcoming season.
“These kids are so resilient. The short offseason between our last game in April up until now might have made them even better,” Kovacs said. “Because of the health orders and the shortened season, I think there was a sense of excitement last season that’s carried over to now.”
Kovacs is excited about several players on this current Bobcat roster, of which there are 45 players currently participating in practice, a number which Kovacs believes will increase when the school year starts.
“We’ve had a great turnout so far,” Kovacs said. “And we’ll be happy to see some of those late stragglers also.”
Kovacs singled out several key players, including two-way starter Michael King, as well offensive lineman Shawn Nelson and linebacker Auggie Aguilar.
“These are great individual players who are going to help us in going a long way this season,” Kovacs said.
In addition, the Bobcats will have a strong duo at the quarterback position, with both Drew Perez and Ryan Sharp getting the bulk of the playing time.
Kovacs has every intention of keeping the current up-tempo offense in place. Over the past several seasons, the pace of play has gotten faster and the results have been well established. Kovacs also believes that getting back to the regular routine of football will have even greater results.
“Now that we can get back to the normal, even with the quick turnaround,” Kovacs said. “I believe we’re going to do some great things this season.”
BLOOMFIELD BOBCATS 2021 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
Fri., Aug. 20 — St. Pius at Bloomfield
Sat., Aug. 28 — Bloomfield at Hope Christian
Fri., Sept. 3 — Grants at Bloomfield
Fri., Sept. 10 — Albuquerque Academy at Bloomfield
Fri., Sept. 17 — Bloomfield at Miyamura
Fri., Sept. 24 — Bloomfield at Valencia
Fri., Oct. 8 — Bloomfield at Shiprock
Fri., Oct. 15 — Bloomfield at Aztec
Fri., Oct. 22 — Gallup at Bloomfield
Fri., Oct. 29 — Kirtland Central at Bloomfield
Correction: This article has been modified to note that Bloomfield lost a state title game to Portales 23-0 in the 2019 season.
Steve Bortstein can be reached via email at SBortstein@Gannett.com, via Twitter @DTSBortstein or on the phone at (505) 635-2680.