Home Sports Local Sports Goddard’s Larry Luna signs with UNM

Goddard’s Larry Luna signs with UNM

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Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

By Tom A. Ruiz
Special to RDR Sports

In his junior year, Larry Luna, starting left offensive tackle for the Goddard Rockets, kept running back Sammy Zaragoza and quarterback Robert Aragon on the sports pages. His aggressive style of play led the University of New Mexico to recruit Luna and signed him to a letter of intent on Wednesday.

National signing day was Wednesday and the two-time first team all-state offensive lineman says he signed with the Lobos because of the family culture he felt while visiting there.

“The (coaches) were more family oriented than I thought. The coaches didn’t just ask me a lot of football stuff, they asked about my family and how I was doing,” said Luna.

Luna is 6-foot-6 and weighs 300 pounds; coaches expect him to make an immediate impact on the Lobo’s offensive line — a place where they have been weak the past several years. In the last two seasons, Luna has been a beast in opening gaps for running backs Rion Lee and Zaragoza. He allowed quarterback Aragon to throw the ball deep to wide receiver Nate Stone while keeping his jersey clean at the end of the game.

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“Hey, that’s my job,” Luna stressed. With Luna playing there, very few opposing defensive linemen have penetrated the left side of the Goddard offensive line.

Larry Luna (71) prepares to make a block. (Scott Stevenson Photo)

In a matchup between Luna and Portales’ all-state defensive tackle Philip Blidi — 6-foot-4 and 275 pounds of muscle — what did Goddard and Luna do? Same as always, they ran right at Blidi all game long and ended up dominating the Texas Tech recruit, 44-12 in a game played at Portales.

In district play, Luna recalls a moment when he flung an Artesia Bulldog defensive player in the air.

“He must have weighed 160 pounds,” Luna said. “I grabbed him from underneath his front breastplate and lifted him into the air and … kind of held him over my head for a second and then threw him to the ground.”

The referee called a holding penalty on the play. “I pleaded my case on the call. But there’s not much you can argue about when you lift a guy off the ground,” Luna said sheepishly.

During games, he’s beast mode Luna, but off the field he is a friend to everyone, Goddard football coach Chris White says.

“He’s just a fantastic kid,” White said. “He comes from a great family; his parents should be very proud of him.”

During the pandemic, Luna has come to understand more than others the effect that the pandemic has had. His father, James Luna, is a nurse at Eastern New Mexico Medical Center in Roswell.

Larry Luna blocks a Roswell defender. (Scott Stevenson Photo)

“We understand the commitment to his patients,” Larry Luna said. “My mom (Yolanda Luna) makes sure our household doesn’t miss a beat while dad is gone.”

Larry Luna shares that when his dad is home, it’s about family time.

“His work doesn’t come home with him,” Larry Luna said. “When he’s home, he’s home, we are very proud of him.”

Yolanda Luna, Larry Luna’s mom, is a force to be reckoned with.

“I don’t know what my brother and I would do without my mother,” Larry Luna said. “She’s always been there for us. She is the staple that holds everything together.”

In these times, Larry Luna has become more aware of how the pandemic is affecting friends and schoolmates.

“Although we haven’t seen much of each other, you find out that some of the people I know are struggling emotionally through this time,” Larry Luna said. “Through my youth ministry at my church (Grace Community Church) we learn about outreach.

“It doesn’t matter who it is. Me and other friends focus on helping those who need it,” he said. “It could be just talking to one another or hanging out, when he gets the opportunity, he shares the love of Jesus. I’m not just going to keep my faith in my pocket. I am going to do everything to share His word with others.”

Once he arrives at UNM, Larry Luna plans on majoring in business administration and art cuisine. His plans after college are to work as a chef and eventually open up his own place. His favorite dish is pasta. “I just love making different types of pasta,” Larry Luna said. Being a top chef means traveling across the country and overseas to learn and create new ways of cooking various foods.

His teammates at UNM are going to love him for not only bulking them up, but also for his desire to play the game.

“We are rebuilding there,” Larry Luna said. “I know what it’s like to work hard, to sweat and bleed and to know there is a reward at the end of the tunnel.”

He’s been inspired by former Rockets football players such as quarterback David Vega who led Goddard to two state titles, and David Anaya who is the second all-time leading rusher in New Mexico high school football.

Both played football at UNM, Vega was recruited from New Mexico Military Institute and Anaya was a walk on.

“I would watch film on them,” Larry Luna said, “and would be in awe on how they prided themselves on being a Goddard Rocket.”

He credits the Goddard coaches for encouraging him to go the extra mile. Larry Luna feels the hard work has paid off and hopes they get to play football in the spring, especially since the Rockets are considered to be in the mix for a state title.

“When I was a kid, I hung around my big brother Nicholas (Luna) who played for the Rockets,” Larry Luna said. “I would see the championship banners and I want to know this year’s team earned one too.”