Escalante Football Building A Legacy

Courtesy photo

Escalante Football Building A Legacy

Dusty Giles, A Former Artesia Bulldogs Football Player Now Coach At Escalante

By Robert A. Naranjo, Valley Daily Post SPORTS

TIERRA AMARILLA – The shades of yellow in the earth and in the layers of stones with majestic peaks as a stunning background are found an area often called “God’s Country,” and gives the community, which has been Rio Arriba’s County Seat since the 1800’s, its name.  Tierra Amarilla (yellow earth) is a community proud of its history and the name of its high school, Escalante High Lobos, bears witness to that that pride. Escalante was a Spanish explorer who explored New Mexico and forged a trail to California which became known as the “Escalante Trail” and the Lobo is one of nature’s most resilient and fierce animals known for sometimes “howling at the moon” old timers in the area like to say.

Tierra Amarilla – Known for Land Grant Issues

Tierra Amarilla also has other recent history that is fascinating, including its well-documented fight to regain Hispanic Land Grants that were taken away, not lost, to a new country, the United States, which had fought a war with a young (25 years as a nation after independence from Spain) Republic of Mexico between 1846-48 known as the Mexican-American War. The U.S. took possession of about one half of Mexico’s land mass, as a result of that war, and that is today the American Southwest. The war’s end was the genesis of the Land Grant struggles to gain back land that is now largely in the hands of the U.S. Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management. But, that is another story to tell at another time.

The Link Between Artesia Bulldog Football And Escalante Lobos Football

There is another type of battle in Tierra Amarilla and that takes place in a football field which lies in the state-of-the-art Lobo Stadium at Escalante High School. Their coach, Dusty Giles, was a former Artesia Bulldog, which is New Mexico’s premier high school football team in an oil town. They play pretty good basketball, too, but the game of football runs through the town’s collective veins and the Artesia Bulldogs have numerous state championships to prove it.

The Valley Daily Post spoke to Escalante’s Coach Giles because social media had a post announcing a state championship game at Lobo Stadium against Hagerman on 10/9, so Valley Daily Post Sports doubled checked with the Escalante coach.  The Coach said that the 2A Football State Championship is in mid-November and it could be held at Escalante but that is yet to be determined through District play and they have a District game coming up against Navajo Pine. “But we have to get there first,” Coach Giles, ever the modest coach, told Valley Daily Post Sports. Every team they have played is considered stronger than their District competition, so there’s a very good chance that the New Mexico Activities Association (NMAA) Class 2A Football State Championship will be in mid November and Post Sports predicts it will be held at Lobo Stadium in Tierra Amarilla, County of Rio Arriba.

“Escalante Always Had The Talent” Now They Have The Coach

The Lobos have a good solid team, played a tough non-district schedule, lost only one all season to Class 5A Albuquerque Academy. That’s a 2A team playing a 5A team and doing well – with some key play out with injuries.  Post Sports contacted a former Escalante football player, Rudy Sisneros, whom played for the Lobos in the late 70’s. Sisneros said that Escalante “always had the talent” but never won football state championship. That changed when Coach Dusty Giles moved to “God’s Country.”

Post Sports asked Coach Giles if he was originally from Artesia. “No, we were from Texas” he said. “My father moved us to Artesia when I was young,“ Giles added.
“The jobs at that time were there and they were almost all oil-related, “ Gile said.  He played football for the storied Artesia Bulldogs and undoubtedly learned a considerable amount there, polished it up some in college and landed in God’s Country, in the County Seat of Rio Arriba, at  a little village known as Tierra Amarilla and at a high school that was somewhat small.  But Coach Dusty Giles knew a diamond in the rough when he saw one and began to make football champions out of them.

“…And The Players Learned His System The State Championships Began To Fall Into Place” – Former Escalante Football Player Rudy Sisneros

As our learned KDCE Sports color commentator, Rudy Sisneros, told Post GAME Post SPORTS, “Escalante always had the talent,” but never managed to get to a state championship game. “But when Coach Dusty Giles arrived, and the players learned his system, the state championships in football began to fall into place,” he said. Sisneros added that, “Escalante now has an established football program. When the team loses seniors, there are other players who step right in and do the job.” 

Coach Dusty Giles’ Escalante Lobos football team is the odd-on favorite to defend their NMAA Class 2A Football State Championship and earn a two-peat. May be premature to say, but Post GAME Post SPORTS predicts number three in football championships for the Escalante Lobos from God’s Country. OOOOOOOOoooooooo!