City of Vision Gridiron Championship

Rio Rancho Rams @ Cleveland Storm

Friday, November 2, 2018 7:00 PM

Those responsible for building Cleveland’s football program from its infancy, knew winning right away was imperative if the Storm was going to avoid being called Rio Rancho’s little brother. The Rams became an instant contender as well, creating an intense, high stakes football clash.

There is pressure to win, and chalking up ‘W’s is all these Gridiron Giants do. Since the inception of the City of Vision Gridiron Championship in 2009, the Rams and Storm have combined for 16 winning seasons. Rio Rancho suffered its only losing season during the rivalry run when it went 4-7 in 2010. The Storm, meanwhile, managed their learning curve in 2009, struggling to a 5-5 mark.

Rio Rancho clobbered Cleveland 50-19 to open this series. The Storm retaliated with back to back rivalry wins in 2010 and 2011, and added a third straight triumph over the Rams in the 2011 Class 5A semifinals when they claimed a 42-28 triumph en route to winning the school’s first state football title.

Cleveland and the Rams play for a wooden trophy that the winner takes home and inscribes its name on. They’ve also stiff armed their way to a pair of state championships each, a 160-51 overall record collectively and combined for a 19-13 postseason mark.

Having claimed six wins in this series, the Storm has its sights set on becoming the first host team to win in the series since they advanced to the title game in 2011. Rio Rancho, on the other hand, would love nothing more than to kick sand in Cleveland’s face at Lightning Bolt Stadium, starting a run of their own.

A crowd of 8,000 screaming fans is expected to attend the football altercation at Lightning Bolt Stadium on Friday November 2 at 7:00 p.m. So dress in your favorite school colors, arrive early and grab the seat of your choice as these two gridiron behemoths slug it out one more time.

Riverly Series Hashtags

  • #BeatCleveland
  • #BeatRioRancho

Who will win?

Learn More About the Teams

@ Cleveland
Rio Rancho Rams Rio Rancho, NM
Loveland Tigers
Cleveland Storm Rio Rancho, NM

Rio Rancho

Rio Rancho Rams

Rio Rancho, NM

Rio Rancho High School, home of the Rams, is located about six miles southwest of Cleveland High School on Broadmoor Boulevard. With about 2,400 Ram supporting students ready to kick the door in come opening day, Rio Rancho will compete in Class 6A on the gridiron, New Mexico’s largest classification.

Ram head coach David Howes came along just in time to kick-start this rumble on turf in 2009, taking four City of Vision Gridiron Championships to date. Under his guidance, the Rams routed rival Cleveland 50-19 in its inaugural season. Howes also added wins of 35-0 in 2012, 24-22 in 2014 and 42-28 in 2016.

Rio Rancho went 7-4 in 2009 before taking a dip to a four-win season in 2010. The Rams, however, have been nearly unstoppable since. Over the past seven seasons, Rio Rancho has posted three 9-3 records and claimed state championships in 2014 and 2016 with 13-0 marks. Howes and the Rams are 78-29 during his tenure and 10-7 in postseason play.

The Rams have played beyond the regular season every year since these two squads began lacing up the shoes against each other. Although the Rams won four of the 10 contests, Howes’ clubs have scored just one point less than Cleveland in this annual, seesaw encounter between two of New Mexico’s best football squads.

Rio Rancho owns the two most lopsided wins in this series after claiming a 35-0 triumph in 2012 and taking the first conflict 50-19. Although Howes and the Rams would love to put another beating on their rival to the northeast, history states that this year’s tussle will probably be close. Three gridiron struggles have been decided by three points or less, two others by a pair of touchdowns.

Before Howes and the Rams even set foot onto the playoff field this fall, Rio Rancho is looking forward to settling a little score with the Storm at Lightning Bolt Stadium. Not only do the Rams want to keep the streak of six straight seasons without a home team win intact; Rio Rancho expects to even this series up.


Cleveland Storm

Rio Rancho, NM

Cleveland High School, home of the Storm, is located 26 miles northeast of Albuquerque, New Mexico on I-25 in Sandoval and Bernalillo Counties. Host to 2,500 rowdy and football crazed students, the Storm will compete in Class 6A, New Mexico’s largest classification, this fall.

Cleveland took the second and third tussles in this series, and upended Rio Rancho 42-28 in the 2011 Class 5A state semifinals, after dropping the inaugural City of Vision Gridiron Championship in Cleveland’s first year of varsity football in 2009.

Following Cleveland’s 13-0 state championship season in 2011, former Storm head coach Kirk Potter announced his retirement, allowing offensive coordinator Heath Ridenour to take over the young program. With Ridenour in charge, the Storm has split the last six contests in this rugged football conflict.

Cleveland is 56-15 under Ridenour, 83-22 overall and claimed its second state football title in 2015 with a 13-0 season. The Storm, who has won six of 10 contests against their heated rival Rams, owns a sparkling 9-6 mark in postseason play. Holding onto a 279-278 scoring margin over Rio Rancho, Ridenour guided Cleveland to rivalry wins of 28-14 in 2013, 44-14 in 2015 and 35-32 last fall.

The Storm claimed district titles in just their second and third seasons. Since missing the playoffs in 2009, Cleveland has played beyond the regular season eight straight years, posting one 9-win season and three 10-win campaigns to go along with the 13-0 state championship seasons in 2011 and 2015. That overnight Storm success catapulted this rivalry into what it is today.

After upending Rio Rancho in last year’s contest, Cleveland is in position to become the first home team to triumph in this annual slugfest since the Storm thumped Rio Rancho by a pair of touchdowns in the 2011 state semifinal contest. With Storm Nation showing up in full support this fall, you can bet Cleveland faithful foresee the second of back-to-back wins for the Storm.