By Arnie Leshin
In his three decades of coaching football, Bill Moon always hesitated when it came to adding freshmen to his varsity roster. Then along came running back Luke Padilla.
“I thought Padilla was something special,” he had said, “and so even though he’s young and lacks experience, I put him on the varsity.”
Now Padilla is a junior, now 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds. Only injuries have slowed him down. Otherwise, he’s been hailed as one of the finest running backs in the northern part of the state. He arrived with speed, but now he has added size and strength.
He’s the one who makes the offense go. He’s a breakaway ball carrier who leaves defenders chasing him until he reaches the end zone. In a recent scrimmage involving Bernalillo and Albuquerque Highland, he picked up only a dozen yards the first two times he ran the ball. But on his third try he sped 70 yards into the end zone.
And he’s healthy, which is one of the reasons Moon likes to say his team is healthy.
It’s early, but it’s a good sign.
It’s also nice to know that Moon, who coached the first Jaguar team when Capital opened in 1988, can boast of having a larger, faster, hungrier squad. Last year, it put together a 3-6-1 overall record and went 2-1 in District 2/5-5A and came within one win of a district championship and a berth in the state playoffs.
Now it would like to take one more step, improving its overall record and winning district in Moon’s seventh season since returning to the program he began.
He’s had a good turnout numbering about 60. He has junior Dion Martinez back as quarterback after a collarbone injury in a scrimmage last year at Bernalillo sidelined him. There’s also other key returnees in three offensive linemen, two skill players on the defense, and an addition in the backfield with Padilla.
That is 5-9, 155 pound junior Gio Munoz. Moon expects him to get plenty of carries and combine with Padilla to provide a formidable one-two punch out of the backfield. Through the air, Martinez’ main targets will probably be 6-1, 230 tight end Julian Sanchez and 6-foot, 150 wide out Dominic Martinez.
But Moon will first be counting on his running game, something he’s done in all his years of coaching. But there’s always room for a passing attack.
Defensively, the Jaguars have added more size and speed. The line backing corps will be led by Sanchez, 5-10, 140 senior Sean Ulibarri and 5-10, 180 Robert Page. There’s also newcomer Daniel Ray Roybal in the secondary. He’s only about 5-6, but is quick to the ball, has good hands and speed.
Roybal sat out last season after suffering a brutal concussion, but he’s been cleared to play and is happy to take the field. He will be adding to a position that features Munoz.
For added size, up front on the defensive line are two-way players like Jonathan Castefieda, James Veleta, Steven Hernandez, and Miguel Valencia, all of whom are in the 200 pound range, with 5-11 sophomore Hernandez tipping the scales at 220. And the rushers on the edge of the line are Frankie Hadley and Andres Alvarado.
Moon is no doubt happy with this team.
“Yes, I love this team,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of the right people in all the right spots. I think we will be able to accomplish some things.”
Added to the new look are jerseys, Nike Jerseys bought at a discount. They replace the teal highlights that Capital often wore. Now there’s silver numbers for both home and away games, sewed on and displaying a reflective sheen.
This is a new fit that blends in with the confidence and more size and speed.