Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Head coach Oliver Soukup enters season with big goals for Carlsbad

Oliver Soukup wants to win a state championship.

It is Soukup’s first season with Carlsbad, but just the latest role in his extensive coaching history. Most recently, Soukup spent seven seasons on the New Mexico State coaching staff, where he served as the assistant head coach and oversaw the linebackers.

Under Soukup, Aggie linebackers Rodney Butler and Devin Richardson emerged as standouts in the position. Both went on to earn All-American honors as the third and fourth Aggie linebackers to do so in program history. NMSU linebacker Javahn Fergurson led the NCAA in tackles (132) in 2018.

With additional college experience at Eastern New Mexico, New Mexico Military Institute and Concordia University, Soukup is eager to lead Carlsbad in tough 6A competition.

“The paramount thing is just to have competition every week where we’re getting out there,” Soukup said. “We have a bunch of work-hard kids that are super, super talented, and if we put all the pieces together, we’d be in pretty good shape.”

Carlsbad last won a state championship in 1961, so Soukup’s goal is no small task. Last year, the Cavemen finished 3-7 overall against a tough schedule that featured some of the state’s most challenging programs, including 5A State Runner-up and Eddy County rival Artesia and 6A State Runner-up Rio Rancho.

In District 3/4-6A play, Las Cruces, Centennial and Hobbs were fierce opponents of the Cavemen. This season, Carlsbad’s schedule will be just as difficult, with only Rio Rancho missing and Clovis in its place. To Soukup, it’s the perfect opportunity to learn early on what it will take to bring home a state title.

Carlsbad Municipal School's new head football coach Oliver Soukup meets with parents, students and fans at the high school cafeteria on Feb. 16.

“That’s the good thing — it’s going to be (challenging) right out the gate,” Soukup said. “We’re going to know what we have to do before we get to district and where we sit, how we’re playing.”

Fortunately for the Cavemen, Soukup says he and the team have adjusted smoothly to the coaching transition. The nature of high school, with many students sharing similar schedules, has contributed to the easy adjustment, as Soukup finds himself able to spend more time with his athletes outside of practice than he could at the college level.

The resulting chemistry team will be an asset as the Cavemen look to improve upon last season. Thirty-two seniors will help lead the team as they work towards their title goals, including University of Arizona commit Tylen Gonzalez, an offensive tackle and defensive lineman.

Players to watch

Senior Tylen Gonzalez will contribute at offensive tackle and the defensive line. Gonzalez committed to the University of Arizona.

“He’s a big body in there that’s super, super athletic,” Soukup said of Gonzalez.

DJ Gonzalez will play defensive end in addition to showing his athleticism on offense at tight end.

Carlsbad's Eli Asay toes the sideline on a fourth-quarter reception Saturday night.

Eli Asaya top-five finisher in the boy’s 100-meter dash at the New Mexico 5A State Track Meet, will utilize his speed at running back and wide receiver.

Schedule

Aug 19, at Artesia, 7 pm

Aug. 26, at Goddard, 7 pm

Sep 2, Volcana Vista, 7 p.m

Sep 9, Clovis, 7pm

Sep 16, at Roswell, 7pm

Sep 30, Alamogordo, 7 p.m

october 6, at Organ Mountain, 7 p.m

october 15, at Centennial, 1 pm

october 21, Las Cruces, 7pm

october 28, Hobbs, 7pm

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