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Warriors’ Guardiola headed to NMMI

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Ruidoso quarterback Gage Guardiola scrambles for a first down against Artesia on Oct. 5, 2019. Guardiola was responsible for more than 400 yards of offense. Artesia won, 73-46. Guardiola will attend New Mexico Military Institute. (Matthew Asher/Carlsbad Current-Argus -Photo)

Ruidoso High School senior quarterback Gage Guardiola will be attending New Mexico Military Institute.

He’ll celebrate that moment before his classmates at the gym. It’s a tradition at the school to acknowledge their athletes as they move to the next phase.

Gage will forever carry fond memories of being a Ruidoso Warrior which began as a young boy.

“I grew up being the ball boy. I always jumped at the chance of being a Warrior,” he recalled.

His father Manny Guardiola also played at the school alongside current Warriors’ head coach Kief Johnson.

“I strive to be like my dad.  I thought it was cool that he was a Warriors football player, too. I’ve always heard of how good my dad was. He’s my idol and I want to be a man like him,” Gage said about his father.

Gage added that coach Johnson is a lot like NMMI head coach Joe Forchtner, and is one of the main factors for his decision to attend the institute.

“He told me what he would expect of me and that competition would be open for the quarterback position and that’s when I decided I wanted to play for them (NMMI),” Gage said.

Gage also was considering Ft. Lewis College in Durango, Colorado, New Mexico Highlands University and Friends University in Wichita, Kansas.

Casey Guardiola, Gage’s mother, said Gage choosing to go to the Institute made sense.

“We’re really a close-knit family and being close to Roswell cuts down on the travel to home games,” she said.

Although Gage always wanted to play for the Warriors, he did not begin his high school career in Ruidoso.

His father established a construction business in Las Cruces and the family moved there from Ruidoso.

Gage played his freshman and sophomore years at Mayfield. His grandparents lived in Ruidoso and when his grandfather died, Gage volunteered to take care of his grandmother, Maria.

“We had to make that decision as a family and it wasn’t an easy one,” said Casey.

The opportunity to care for his grandmother and his dream of playing for the Ruidoso Warriors was the chance of a lifetime. His parents frequently drove to Ruidoso to keep close tabs on the situation.

“I had to be more disciplined and manage my time with my grandmother to make sure her needs were met, keep my grades up and be at football practice,” Gage said. “She would not let me get up from the dinner table until I finished everything on my plate.”

While Maria couldn’t make some of the home and away games this past season, so she listened to them on the radio from home.

She was especially excited about the game between Ruidoso and Artesia where both teams engaged in a competitive battle before Artesia pulled out the win in the fourth quarter.

“What a crazy game that was,” Gage reflected. “We scored touchdowns on our first three drives. In the huddle, we believed we could take them (Artesia). I am going to remember that game forever.”

Now a new phase of his life awaits him at NMMI.

“They have a great academic program … among the best in the country. I am going to be a part of a great military tradition. I can’t wait to be a Bronco,” Gage proudly said.

Gage will be pursuing a career as a football coach.

“I aspire to be among the best players at NMMI and be a great teammate,” said Gage. “And as my dad reminds me, doing it the right way.”