About 25 boys have been out for practice in advance of the Warriors’ season opener Thursday at Portales, and the younger players have needed to fill in holes left by last year’s graduating class.
“We’ll be competitive this year,” said coach Aaron Romero. “Last year we were competitive, we were just on the wrong side of several games.”
The Warriors were 4-16 last season, going 1-7 in District 3-1A/3A contests. But of those losses four were decided by two goals or less, and all four of their victories were by the same margin. The real challenge is finding someone to score goals.
“A lot of the guys that scored, those are the ones that are gone,” Romero said. “We have plenty of guys that are capable. I’d like to not hit the post as many times as we did last year.”
The district, according to Romero, is wide open this year, thanks to a number of seniors graduating from every school.
“We only graduated four, but NMMI graduated 14, Silver City 12 and Hatch had 12,” Romero said. “It could be a whole different season.”
Still, it’s a season that presents challenges. NMMI may have graduated a lion’s share of seniors, but could still have a strong class this year. Preparing for the district schedule doesn’t involve playing any private schools, even though private schools like Sandia Prep, Bosque Prep and Hope Christian have accounted for every Class 1A/3A state title since 2000.
That’s not to say public schools haven’t had a shot. Socorro and Hatch – both District 3 members – lost in the final, as did Portales – the Warriors’ first opponent this season – in 2011.
“I’d have liked to practice a little more before starting the season,” said Romero, whose Warriors hit the field a full week before any team in any other sport this year. “They’ll be ready, although there’ll be some growing pains.”