The football team for Santa Fe High School could be facing a devil of a time this season after getting pushed up from Class 4A to 6A and sitting in a district with schools bursting at the seams in Rio Rancho, Cleveland, Cibola and Volcano Vista.
All four made the state playoffs last season and have programs stuffed with players.
But the Demons aren’t going to let that derail the revitalization of the program that coach Ray Holladay began when he took over in 2009.
“We’re doing all right,” he said. “We’re getting better, which is what has been our goal in the five years that we’ve been here. We’re trying to see if we can build on the success that we’ve had the last couple of years.”
Santa Fe is coming off a season when it went 3-1 in district and came within a 43-42 double-overtime loss to Bernalillo of a having a perfect district slate.
Of course, the likes of Los Alamos, Española Valley and Capital won’t make anyone forget the Hawks, Rams and Storm, but the Demons are doing their best to stay positive about it.
“We’re preparing for the district that we’re in,” Holladay said. “We know that it’s not going to be easy.”
Senior quarterback Robert Corriz said he’s not really even looking at the schedule but is just focused on getting ready to play.
“I’m not intimidated by it at all,” he said. “I’m just here, doing my part getting ready for the season. It doesn’t really matter to me the name of the people that we’re playing. I’m more excited being with the team, playing more games and just being a part of this team.”
And Santa Fe does have some advantages in that it runs an offense that should cause the district foes fits.
The pistol offense run by triggerman Corriz will try to offset the other schools’ size with a read-and-react set.
Corriz, in his second season as the starter, said he feels fairly proficient in the offense.
“It’s a lot more comfortable for me other than being under center,” he said. “I have a little more room to drop back and I have extra time to see the field better. That’s an advantage for me, I believe. I have more of a hang on it than last year.”
Up front, senior offensive linemen Elijah Alva (6-1, 260) and Harlan Miller (6-0, 215) will try to keep opposing big boys at bay for Corriz and senior fullback Rayes Montaño (5-11, 215).
“We just have to make sure everybody is in line and does everything right,” said Montaño, who played with knee and shoulder injuries last season. “Especially going into 6A, we have to be on top of our game, make as little mistakes as we can. If we stay focused and make little mistakes, we should do OK.”
Defensively, Santa Fe will run a 5-2 formation because Holladay said the flexibility will give the Demons the ability to adjust to what the other teams do.
Senior linebacker Isaiah Taylor (6-3, 217) looks to make an impact to hold opposing offenses in check.
“It’s the type of defense I’ve always run,” Holladay said. “It allows us to drop easily into a 3-4. I believe, to be a strong team, you have to be able to run the ball. And, to be a strong team, you have to be able to stop the run.”
This is one in a series of articles in Journal North previewing the area’s high school football teams.