By Arnie Leshin
It was a time of joy, a time to celebrate the ride home from Espanola Valley on Sept. 7 last football season.
And for Santa Fe High, it had been long awaited for. It had been hanging on to a long losing streak (35 games) that was in its fifth year when, with time running out and the Demons trailing 22-21, they were attempting a 28-yard field goal, and Carl Twibell and his brother John were doing the radio broadcast when suddenly Carl shouted, “It’s good,the field goal was good, Santa Fe’s long draught is over.”
The Demons raced onto the field and celebrating like never before, or never in five years. They had put together only two winning seasons since 1986. It had one more win and finished at 2-8 overall and winless in three District 2-5A starts.
Now, in head coach Andrew Martinez’ third season, it’s time for a change, a move forward.
It’s not going to be easy, but Martinez feels he has a squad with confidence, experience, and more speed. He also has some depth.
It’s a roster led by underclassmen, more so the sophomore class led by returning quarterback Luc Jaramillo, and back-up quarterback, wide receiver, defensive back Zach Martinez. Last season the sophomores learned well, played well, and are eager to do the same or even more this time.
“I think those sophomores made significant gains in strength and speed,” Martinez said. “Now their understanding of our system is much further along then it was last year.”
He added that team bond is very important and these guys really have a good rapport with each other. That this team have the confidence, not just talk, but in believing it.
Jaramillo arrived at Santa Fe High as a freshman who had little experience after playing for Capshaw Middle School. He’s cool in the pocket, stands only 5-foot-8 and weighs but 150 pounds, but he’s quick, has a strong arm and can handle the option.
“Quite a difference,” he said, “coming from middle school ball to varsity high school. I feel a lot more comfortable out there now.”
The team also has something it lacked last season, speed, plus strength and quickness. Trent Jones is a senior tight end with good hands and speed. He, junior Jeremy Martinez and Zach Martinez are the main threats to latch onto Jaramillo’s throws.
As for the running game, the teams lost its best running back, Sammy Martinez, to graduation, so now he turns to junior Matt Abeyta and 5-8, 160 junior fullback Matt Maestas, who also plays linebacker. The team will carry the ball, but it looks like the Demons will rely more on throwing the ball.
Coach Martinez envisions a rotation of up to 10 players along the front line, and he thinks this could be the backbone of a strong defense. There’s 6-1, 250 junior Ben White going both ways on the line, a guard on offensive and as a defensive back.
“We have some speed guys, we have some power guys, he said. “They can all fill in, they can all play snaps, and be fresh all game. There’s a real good mixture and it’s a very deep front.”
The kicking game could be filled by freshman Andrew Allen.
There is optimism, there is hope that the Demons can compete in just about every game. They should know more after Friday night’s home opener against Robertson, which has a successful program and has made it four straight times to the state championship. They have lost each time and now are on a mission to hoist the championship trophy.
Now let’s see what Santa Fe High has to say about it. Game time is 7 o’clock.
Following the opener, the Demons remain at Ivan Head Stadium for the next three outings against Moriarty and Espanola Valley before heading up to defending state champion Taos, which opens at home Friday against St. Michael’s. Capital is home to Crownpoint the same night.