Mark Lopez, 41, an assistant football coach for the last 18 years at Las Cruces High School, has been selected as the school’s new head football coach. LCPS Athletics Director Ernest Viramontes said Lopez will replace Bulldawg Coach Jim Miller who is retiring at the end of this school year from Las Cruces High School.
“I think the way I look at, I was really lucky to work with (Miller),” Lopez said. “He is obviously one of the best coaches in the history of the state. I was able to learn under him and not be in a rush to go make name for myself.”
Lopez has been the Bulldawgs offensive coordinator since 2007 and he will continue to call the offense. The LCHS team has won three state titles with Lopez coaching the offense.
Lopez changed the Bulldawgs’ offensive system following the 2011 season to an approach that allowed the offense to change route concepts at the line of scrimmage based on defensive alignment. The Bulldawgs went 23-2 and won two straight state championships in 2012-13.
Lopez has also coached special teams and the secondary at LCHS, officials said.
Lopez said he will not make wholesale changes, but he plans to put his own stamp on the program that Miller built into a consistent state title contender.
“This program has been so successful because (Miller) established a culture here and that culture is something we don’t want to change at all,” Lopez said. “What may change is just how that message is delivered. My personality is a little different. I have helped develop some of that structure that we have in place now. Strategically, we will look at some different things, but we have always been tweaking things here or there.”
Lopez is a 1992 LCHS graduate and Miller was his position coach his last two years as a player. His father won a state basketball championship in 1959 at LCHS and his brother James played quarterback on the Bulldawgs 1999 and 2000 Las Cruces state championship teams.
“It’s huge for me and my family,” Lopez said. “We have lived the Bulldawg life for so long. That goes for my kids, my wife, my brother, my parents. It means the world to me to stay loyal to the school and the program for this long and be rewarded with this opportunity. I’m excited to keep the legacy alive so to speak.”
Lopez has also been an assistant baseball coach for the past 19 years, which is a role that he will no longer fulfill following this season. He also teaches physical education at Las Cruces High School.