Three Rattlers named All State

By William Thompson

Tucumcari High School football players Justin Garcia, Eric Holt and Chris McCasland were recently named to the Class 2A 2004 All-State Team. Garcia was selected to the first team as a center. Holt was selected to the first team as a running back and McCasland was named first-team defensive back.

McCasland was also given all-state honorable mention recognition as a punter.

McCasland, a senior, said he has received attention from a coach at the University of New Mexico.

“Defensive back coach Grady Stretz recently asked me about my schoolwork, my health and how my basketball playing was coming along,” McCasland said. “If I can’t play football at UNM (university of New Mexico), I’d like to run track for them.”

McCasland said excelling at defensive back requires alertness.

“You’ve got to read the quarterback’s eyes,” he said. “It helps you get into the right position. Being selected to the all-state team helps you get noticed by colleges.”

Tucumcari’s Head Coach Dub Smith said Garcia rarely made a mistake in getting the ball to the quarterback.
“All offensive plays start with that exchange between the center and the quarterback,” Smith said. “Justin rarely had a miscue.”

Holt, a junior, said being named one of the best running backs in the state meant he had exhibited “heart” during the season.

“To be a good running back you have to keep your shoulders up and your feet moving,” Holt said. “You have to read the eyes of the defenders.”

Smith said Holt is an all-around athlete.
“At running back he knows how to read the seams and run to daylight,” he said. “He is a natural running back. He weighed about 160-170 pounds but ran like a 200-pound running back. I’m glad Eric is playing basketball now because that will help him in football.”

McCasland was also Smith’s starting quarterback.
Chris has natural speed and he’s tall,” Smith said. “He was able to cover a lot of ground back there at defensive back. He saved a lot of touchdowns for us.”

Smith said he routinely sends game film of his top players to college coaches.

Garcia said offensive linemen rarely get the same attention that backs and receivers get.

“Our coaches did a good job this season of letting the linemen know when they were doing a good job,” Garcia said. “The key to not making mistakes when hiking the ball is to practice with the quarterback a lot.”

Holt said he had help with Garcia blocking for him in games.

“Justin blocked for me all the time,” he said.

But Garcia said his football days are probably over.

“I signed up with the U.S. Navy,” Garcia said. “I’ll be leaving for boot camp three days after graduation. I want to be an aviation mechanic.”