By Arnie Leshin
Whether good or bad, there’s always something happening up in Espanola Valley.
The good? Winning two state basketball championships, the only ones in school history. The bad? Well, where do you start?
Despite their success in basketball, there were many problems regarding head coach Richie Martinez. Three times he was suspended. Three times he returned to the sidelines. After further controversy, he was fired.
This one is about football. It wasn’t long after the District 2/5-4A opening kickoff against visiting Bernalillo last Friday night when a punt was followed by two tangled players, one from each team, and words, a shove and a push followed. When some Sundevil players left the sidelines to join in, the officials brought the game to a halt.
The Spartans (6-1) had scored quickly to go up 7-0. Not long after, the rumpus occurred, and apparently none of the visiting players left their sideline, so it became a mismatch that stopped the game, Espanola head coach Miguel Medina called off the eight players who were involved, and just like this, it ended with an official 2-0 forfeit awarded to Bernalillo.
At this time, the Spartans escaped with no players being reprimanded, but eight Sundevils were said to be suspended for the next two games, which now has their roster down to about 20 players, and will probably put some JV players onto the varsity after their record dropped to 3-4.
Not only that, but it doesn’t matter who Espanola travels to undefeated district foe Taos (6-0) with for Friday night’s contest, it will no doubt be a tough game to play and a disappointing ride home. The Sundevils may be 0-3 at home, so might better off taking to the road. The next trip will be to once-beaten Grants, which gave visiting Taos its only test of the season before losing 20-19.
The school also lost its best of the homecoming game activities scheduled for that night. After the game was officially called and players had been cleared off the field, just an impromptu homecoming precession was held before a listless audience. The homecoming court had been scheduled to be introduced at halftime.
The school had also scheduled a “spirit walk” through town to promote homecoming, but moved it to its campus on the orders of the law enforcement officials who were still investigating the Thursday night fatal shooting of Cameron Martinez, who had played for the school’s basketball team and graduated last year.
So apparently students were upset by that incident and the team might have taken the field not prepared to play. Emotions were high well before the kickoff. Then with the contest only 3:45 old,came the punt, the shove, the push, and this led to Sundevil players illegally leaving the sidelines, a talk among the coaches and officials, and the forfeit that cost the visitors five points.
There was talk of possibly postponing the homecoming dance until Oct. 26 when Albuquerque St. Pius X provides the opposition for the final home game, but student council members vetoed that idea because the boys had already rented tuxedos, bought flowers, and they had already decorated the gymnasium.
For Espanola, this comes only eight months after it was taken off an extended probation for issues involving its boy’s basketball program.
The New Mexico Activities Association could level further punishment against players and coaches from both teams
Things happen, good and bad, but making a habit of this is not good at all.