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A lot to watch in prep football

August 10, 2018

Ah, the buzz of anticipation fills the air at football fields across the state, if not the country.

Yes, the 2018-19 school year begins next week for many, but the prep sports scene began Monday in New Mexico when football players donned their helmets and practice jerseys to start preparing for the season.

That excitement leads to a lot of questions related to the success — or failure — of teams, so let’s take a look at a few that ought to intrigue fans in Northern New Mexico.

Will Santa Fe High win a game this year? Yes, absolutely. As far as the game, if it’s not Sept. 7 at Española Valley, then surely Sept. 21 against Bernalillo. The Demons should get two wins, and anything more would be considered a good season for a program that hasn’t experienced the joy of winning since 2014.

Should Capital be concerned with a small roster? Not yet. The Jaguars’ 33-player showing for the opening day of practice is a lingering effect of this year’s minuscule senior class that saw its eighth-grade football season come to a premature end four years ago. While the other classes have been strong, that hiccup siphoned off about 10-15 players that should still be playing. If this trend continues, though, it could be the sign of a larger turnout problem at the school.

Regardless, the Jaguars should be the favorites to win a second straight district title.

Is St. Michael’s the best team in Class 3A? As of Aug. 8, yes. The Horsemen might have lost a lot of talent, but they still have some returning in receiver Luke Kastendieck, tight end Alejandro Talamantes and quarterback Dominic Morgan.

However, the team to watch in 3A are the West Las Vegas Dons. With a talented signal-caller in John Balizan, the anticipated return of speedy running back Darion Williams and a strong offensive line, West Las Vegas might end up being the No. 1 team by the time November rolls around.

Will the Escalante/Coronado co-op team be a success? Yes, if only because of the talent the Lobos have returning. The Leopards’ contributions will surely be in depth, especially in the skill positions, but many of them have little to no football experience.

That’s OK, as Escalante more than makes up for that area. Now if the Chama Valley region could pump out some big kids …

Who will challenge Albuquerque St. Pius in District 2/5-4A? Try the Taos Tigers. Another team that lost some supremely talented players to graduation, Taos has an intriguing prospect in Noah Armijo to replace Jude Suazo behind center, and Jonathan Garcia (1,693 rushing yards) will toe the ball behind a solid offensive line. The rest of the district teams are in a rebuilding mode, so it appears to be a race between the Tigers and the Sartans.

That said, take all of this with a grain of salt. All of this could be irrelevant by the second week.

Except for Santa Fe High. Give it three.

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