Friday the 13th has all kinds of connotations to it. If you’re a football fan, then it was a good day to be at New Mexico Military Institute. Football is back.
For the last 10 years, Broncos head coach Joe Forchtner has held his annual camp and then invited teams from across New Mexico to play in a 7-on-7 tournament, and now their first ever Lineman Challenge.
The weather was hot and humid for the teams from across the state. At the end, it began to rain as the last pass was thrown. Roswell played in the championship game before losing to Hobbs, 26-20, in Division I. Roswell was undefeated and virtually unchallenged prior, but did have to come back against Los Lunas and hold them on their final possession to win, 27-25.
The Coyotes will travel to Los Lunas during the regular season on Sept. 14.
“We got a good group coming back,” head coach Jeff Lynn said. “Today has been good. We’ve had some success and it’s not bad for the first 7-on-7 of the year. We’re excited for the upcoming season.”
One area that concerns Lynn is the offensive line. They put forth a great effort, finishing second in the Lineman Challenge.
Lynn was happy with his young sophomore backs stepping up and making big plays. Lynn felt like Dominic Nava played well on defense and offense and that the rest of his skill guys do what they do.
“I’m impressed with our young kids,” Lynn said.
Normally a running team, Roswell may have to add the pass to keep defenses honest this season. Without a dominant lineman returning, look for Lynn to turn senior quarterback Ethan Valenzuela loose on first downs and pass the ball so Roswell can run.
“Passing the ball is important to me,” Lynn said. “We play Hobbs, Artesia and Farmington. These teams that throw the ball, part of being able to beat them is to be able to defend them. Just looking at our personnel moving forward, we are going to have to do more of this. We don’t have a big offensive lineman or a big bruising fullback, so we are going to have to throw the ball more. We have to get people into space more.”
Lynn feels like his team has to get stronger in the weight room. As far as specific areas the team looks to focus on improving for next semester, strength training is a major one.
Lynn said, “We gotta continue to get stronger in the weight-room up front on the O- and D-lines. Our biggest weakness has gotta be our line play. Those kids have to continue to make progress in the weight room and in becoming a team in doing some of the things that separate good teams from great teams.”
Next week, the Coyotes will travel to Santa Fe and participate in another 7-on-7. After that, they will have another week of conditioning and then Lynn will give his team a week off and then school starts. Already, things will be challenging for the Coyotes as they will have their bye the first week of the season and play 10 straight weeks, concluding with the dogfight at the Wool Bowl against Goddard.
New Mexico Activities Association sanctions the first day of official practice on Aug. 6.
If this seems like a dream to first-year Dexter Demon head coach Arturo Duran, maybe it is. Duran, former state championship quarterback at Dexter, has been given the keys to the car. Not just any car, but one off the showroom floor. If they can find some lineman, they have the skill players to be the high school version of the “Greatest Show on Turf.”
With All-State players returning and a dynamic duo in the running game and a dependable tight end as a safety valve, the Demons are loaded, as they proved Friday, only losing to Hobbs’ second team in Division II-B by a score of 14-6 in the championship game.
“My team is having fun out there,” Duran said. “We wanted to come out here and compete against other teams. They are having fun and executing and getting better for the season. Our main thing is to get into shape.”
Dexter will open the season against Santa Rosa on Aug. 24.
The 7-on-7 event was a success, according to NMMI coach Forchtner.
“This is a way to get guys on campus,” Fortchtner said. “This has been the biggest camp we’ve had since I’ve been here.”
NMMI starts practice July 30, with their first game Aug. 24.