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LOVINGTON WILDCATS  

LOVINGTON, NEW MEXICO

 

 

 

 

 

     

 

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Profiles of Wildcat Coaches:

(Clicking on the coach's name will take you to his profile.)

Ross Black Art Karger
Virgil Boteler Ralph Tasker
Chief Bridgforth Harold Teal
Jerry Brown (photos) Scottie Watkins
John T. "Speedy" Faith  

 

Ross Black:

Ross Black attended Lovington High School where he was a four sport letterman, all-state two times in basketball. In high school, he lettered in football two years, basketball three years, track three years and baseball one year. He was captain of the basketball and track teams his senior year and earned both all-district and all-state honors. In 1949-50, he played for the South in the North-South All Star game in 1950. He was President of the senior class, named best all around boy and most outstanding in school activities in 1950. He was starting guard for the 1949 New Mexico State Championship basketball team, Lovington's first state championship in that sport, under then head coach Ralph Tasker.

He attended Ft. Lewis Junior College in Durango, Colorado, where he was all-conference in basketball and was named Athlete of the Year in 1951. He was captain of the basketball team, lettering in basketball, track and tennis. After transferring to University of New Mexico in 1952, he was a three year letterman in track and basketball, also captain of the track and baskeball teams in 1954. Black was named Track Man of the Year in 1953 and received the Lobo Award for best all around student athlete in 1954.

Upon graduation from UNM, Black returned to Lovington to begin his coaching career in 1954, serving as head track coach and assistant football and basketball coach, assuming the head basketball and track coach duties two years later. He was named New Mexico Basketball Coach of the year in 1960 and coached the South to a victory in the 1958 New Mexico North South All Star game. He was honored as New Mexico Physical Education Associan Merit Teacher of the Year award in 1961.

His basketball teams won District championships and were runners up one year when Lovington competed in the top class in the state, competing with the largest schools. His teams won four state championships in gymnastics during his tenure at Lovington and his track team finished third in the state meet in 1964, second in 1965 and first in 1966. He served New Mexico Activities Association as a member of the Boys Athletic Committee, Handbook Revision Committee, Budget Committee, Building Committee and Chairman for District 4-AAA. Black served three two year terms as member of the National Federation Executive Committee and served as President of the National Federation Executive Committee in 1989. He also served on several committees and task forces for the National Federation, including Budget Committee for two years, Insurance Committee and the task force for catastrophic injuries.

In 1966, he became the first coach and athletic director at the newly completed New Mexico Junior College. His first basketball team earned an 18-10 record and won a position in the Region V playoff tournament. Black organized his first track team at NMJC in 1967. In its first year the Thunderbird track team won the conference championship and Black was named Region V Track Coach of the Year. In 1969, the track team was undefeated in the regular season, winning its second conference championship and finishing 5th at the national track meet. In 1970, win a third consecutive West Junior College Athletic Conference championship, climaxing the season by winning the National Junior College Championship in Mesa, Arizona. Coach Black was honored as National Junior College Coach of the year in 1971 and was also honored by being named as coach of the American team in an international competition in Madrid, Spain. The 1972 track team went undefeated for a fourth consecutive time during its regular season setting a record of 51 consecutive wins, finishing high in the national meet.

Black served as President of the National Junior College Track and Field Coaches Association for three years. He retired from coaching at NMJC after the 1973 season to focus on his duties as Athletic Director and Dean of the Division of Education and Psychology. In August of that year, he went to Moscow to serve as a coach on the United States track team in the World University Games, thus ending his remarkable track coaching career. His two relay teams earned the only two gold medals won by the United States in track. He was nominated for the Olympic track and field coaching staff for the 1976 Olympic Games.

In 1977 he returned to Lovington to serve as high school principal for four years before becoming superintendent of schools, a position he held until his retirement. He was honored as New Mexico School Administrator of the Year in 1987. His honors include being inducted into the New Mexico Athletic Activities Hall of Fame and being named New Mexico Superintendent of the Year in 1991. He was inducted into the Ft. Lewis College Athletic Hall of Fame in 1994, the Western Junior College Hall of Fame in 2006 and the Lea County Athletic Hall of Fame in 2008.

 

Virgil Boteler:

 

Coach Boteler was Lovington's head football coach from 1949 to 1955. He was born in Floydada, Texas and was later a star athlete in both basketball and football at University of New Mexico. Following his successful athletic career at UNM, Boteler was drafted by the Detroit Lions of the NFL. He was the 112th player selected in a year that included such notable players as Doak Walker, Norm Van Brocklin and George Blanda. During his tenure at LHS, he led the Wildcats to two state championships (1951 and 1952). After returning to Texas, Coach Boteler continued teaching at Del Norte HS in Lubbock.

 

Chief Bridgforth:

 

Bridgforth was head basketball coach from 1990 to 2000 during which period he led the Wildcats to a 178-103 record.

 

Jerry Brown:

 

A 1961 graduate of LHS, Brown was head football coach from 1981 to 1990. His teams achieved a record of 80-31-1. During his tenure as head coach, the Wildcats won two outright state championships (1986 and 1990) and tied Artesia for a co-championship in 1987, a game that ended at 0-0. His teams' 80 wins ranks second among all Lovington head football coaches.

While a student at LHS, Jerry was an outstanding multi-sport athlete, lettering in football, basketball and track. He played on two state championship football teams (1958 and 1960) under then head coach Wilson Knapp. Brown was selected to the All-State teams in both basketball and football. In addition, he was chosen to represent the South in both sports in the New Mexico's annual in the annual North-South All-Star game. He was the first player in Lovington history to be so honored in two different sports.

Nearing the end of his high school career, Brown was recruited by several major universities including University of Texas and University of Notre Dame but instead chose to attend Oklahoma Christian College (now Oklahoma Christian University) where he was a four year player on the basketball team and also played baseball. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from OCC in English and his minor in History. During his college years he was President of the O Club, a state-wide organization based on athletic code of standards by which each member is judged and expected to maintain. Jerry was a member of the student council, treasurer of the Key Club, a collegiate affiliate of Kiwanis. He was one of twelve chosen for "Men's Dormitory Council" and named "Mr. OCC".

After graduating from OCC he began teaching and coaching. He received his Masters degree from ENMU. While he resided in Lovington, his three sons David, Paul and Anson were Wildcat student-athletes.

 

John T. "Speedy" Faith:

 

Faith, a 1974 Lovington graduate, was the head coach of the Wildcats from 1991 to 2005. Within this time frame, his teams amassed a record of 127 wins and 56 losses.  During his time as the head coach, Faith won a school record four state championships (1995, 2000, 2001, and 2004), five district championships (1995, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005) and also finished as state finalists three different times (I994, 2003, and 2005).  His 127 wins is tops among all Lovington football coaches.  The Wildcats qualified for the playoffs 11 out of 15 years Faith was at the helm.  The 1995 team, led by Brian Urlacher, finished with a record best, 14-0 finish.  The 2001 squad also posted an undefeated record, going 13-0.

Faith was voted Greatest Wildcat his senior year in 1974 for his accomplishments on and off the field.  He was a part of the 1972 state runner-up football team, and a member of the 1973 state championship baseball team.  He was a two time All-State baseball player (73, 74), as well as an All-District and All-South quarterback (73).  Faith served as student body president, a Boys State delegate, and was also a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.   An interesting fact is that Faith was coached by former head coach, the late Jerry Brown as an eighth grader.

Faith received a baseball scholarship to Oklahoma Christian College, in which he lettered four years for the Eagles.  He helped OCC to the Super Regionals in 1977, and garnered All-American honors in 1978.  Faith also earned All-Conference honors in 1977 and 1978.  Batting leadoff, he set multiples records including hits, doubles, and triples in season and career, longest hitting streak, and most hit by pitches.  Faith earned his bachelor’s degree in science with a minor in social studies.

After returning to Lovington in 1981, Faith served as defensive coordinator and assistant head coach for the late Jerry Brown until 1991.  From 1981-1990 (112 games), Faith’s “Legion of Doom” defense registered 38 shut outs (13 of them coming in 89 and 90 seasons), and held the opposing offense to single digits 27 more times (a feat that may never be equaled again).  As an assistant, Faith was a part of three state championship teams (86, 87, 90), and one runner-up (89).  He surpassed Brown as the all time winningest coach after a 42-7 win in the 2000 state game while coaching his son, Josh, a senior All-State fullback for the Wildcats.  Faith was honored as NMHSCA football coach of the year following the 2001 and 2004 seasons.

 

Art Karger:

 
 

artkarger

Karger was head basketball coach from 1982 to 1989 during which period he led the Wildcats to a 138-52 record. During his tenure as boys head coach, his team won one state basketball title, only the second state basketball championship in LHS history. Karger was twice honored as New Mexico Coach of the Year, in 1985 and 1989. Please see the recap below of Coach Karger's excellent record.
 
1 NM State Championship (1983)
6 NM State Final Fours (1983,1984,1985,1986,1988,1989)
4 District Championships (1985,1986,1987,1988)
2 Time New Mexico Coach of the Year (1985,1989)
 
 
138-52 Overall Record (73%)
        * 12 Straight Wins Twice..(1985,1987)
        * 31-14 Against Bigger Classifications (AAAA,AAAAA)
        * 13-8 NM State Tournament Record
 
63-17  District Record (79%)
        * 18 Straight Wins (1986-1988)
        * 14 Straight Wins (1985-1986)
        * 4 Straight District Championships (1985-1988)
        * 37-1 Record Between 1985-1988
        * 50-6 Record Between 1985-1989
   
70-14 Overall Home Record  (83%)
        *15 Straight Home Wins (1988-1989)
        *13 Straight Home Wins (1987-1988)
        *12 Straight Home Wins (1985-1986)
        *31-4 Record Between (1984-1986)
        *63-9 Record Between (1984-1989)
 
38-3 Overall District Home Record (92%)
        *35 Straight Wins (1984-1989)
        *35-1 To End Career (1984-1989)
        *7-0 District Tournament

Coach Karger was inducted into the NMAA Hall of Fame in 2014.

 

 

Ralph Tasker:

 

Tasker was born and raised in West Virginia and played his college ball for the Alderson Broaddus Mountaineers.  Upon his graduation and after coaching for one year at Sulphur Springs High School in Ohio, Tasker enlisted in the US Army Air Corps, having been motivated by the attack on Pearl Harbor.  After his military service, he accepted a coaching position in Lovington, NM in 1946. Tasker was hired by Lovington's superintentent of schools, H. C. Pannell.  Both Tasker and Pannell happened to be in Albuquerque at the same time.  Tasker was being mustered out of the US Army Air Corps and Pannell was there for a meeting.  Pannell offered Tasker the job and Tasker accepted.  Three years later, he won his first state championship in Lovington, which proved to be Lovington's only championship for the next 34 years.

Tasker then moved to Hobbs in 1950 where he served as head basketball coach for the next 49 years. By the time he retired in 1998, his combined record from the three schools included 1,122 wins, 291 losses and his teams had earned 12 state championships. His last team finished third in the New Mexico state tournament, one game short of notching what would have been Tasker's 37th 20-game winning season.

Tasker's teams were known for a productive offense and a merciless full-court press defense from start to finish. His 1970 team averaged 114.6 points a game, a national high school record set before the institution  of the 3-point shot. 

Coach Tasker's twelve New Mexico state basketball championships are as follows: one in Lovington (1949) followed by eleven in Hobbs (1956, 1957, 1958, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1980, 1981, 1987 and 1988). He was twice named National High School Coach of the Year and was inducted into the National High School Sports Hall of Fame in 1988. He also received the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Morgan Wooten Award. Tasker was named to the New Mexico High School Coaches Association Hall of Honor and the Walt Disney Coach/Teacher of the Year both in 1991.

Coach Ralph Tasker of Hobbs, NM died on July 19, 1999 at his home after a short battle with cancer. He was 80 and had also suffered from pneumonia prior to his death. He left behind his wife of almost 49 years, Margaret, his three children, a host of former players and assistants including Ross Black (played for UNM), Bill Bridges (played for Kansas and in the NBA), Rob Evans (played for Lubbock Christian and UNM and coached at University of Mississippi and Arizona State), Larry Robinson (played for Texas), Larry Williams (played at Kansas State), Jeff Taylor, Sr. (played Texas Tech, in the NBA and in Europe), Vince Taylor (played at Texas Tech, the NBA and Europe, now coaching) and Kent Williams (played at Texas Tech).

Longtime assistant Don Abbott of Farmington, said of Tasker, ''He basically changed the way the game of basketball was played,'' said Abbott.  ''He made better coaches out of all his opponents because of his ability to get the best out of them as well as out of his own teams. He is well respected all over - not only among high school coaches, but college coaches have used some of his innovations,'' Abbott added. ''He was a wonderful teacher in the classroom as well. I was fortunate enough to have him as a teacher, too. He taught government and history.'' [Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, July 20, 1999]

 

Harold Teal:

 

Teal was born in Sudan, Texas. He graduated from Lubbock High School where he was an outstanding football player for four years. Teal then went on to the University of North Texas where he lettered two years in football. Prior to coaching at LHS, he was head coach in Tucumcari. Teal then served as Lovington's head football coach from 1967 - 1969, leading the Wildcats to two state championships (1968 and 1969). His coaching record at LHS was 23-10-1.

Coach Teal then relocated to Texas where he continued a long teaching, coaching and administrative career first coaching in Brownfield followed by many years in Mansfield. Coaching awards included being named Coach of the Year at least one year in New Mexico and South Plains Coach of the Year while at Brownfield, TX.

 

Scottie Watkins:

 

Born in Fairview, Oklahoma Scottie Watkins attended elementary, junior high and high school in Clovis, NM graduating in 1950. He lettered in track, football and baskeball three years, receiving honorable mention in All-State Football in 1948. Watkins entered Eastern New Mexico University on a football scholarship (lettering in football in his freshman year) and received his undergraduate degree in 1960, his college career having been interrupted by four years of service in the United States Navy during the Korean War. He began his teaching career in 1960 in Lovington and earned a Masters degree from ENMU in 1963. Coach Watkins taught and coached at LHS until his retirement in 1985.

Coach Watkins served as head track coach from 1976 to 1985 in addition to teaching. During this 10 year period, his track athletes won 10 straight district titles. At the state meets, his teams won seven state championships (1977, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1984, 1985), took second place twice (1979 , 1983) and placed third once (1976). He also served for several years as head coach in junior varsity football. His junior varsity football teams compiled a record of 35 wins, 25 losses and 2 ties. In addition to his coaching at the high school, he was track coach at Central Junior High for several years, where his teams won 4 Border championships.

He was the New Mexico nominee for National High School Track Coach of the Year both in 1984 and 1986. Coach Watkins was named New Mexico Track Coach of the Year three times. In additon, he was named to the New Mexico High School Coaches Association Hall of Honor in 1993.

 

 

 

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