SANTA FE, N.M. — Sometimes the rich just get richer and there is not much anybody can do about it.
The Escalante High School football team, already expected to be one of the powers in the revamped Class 3A, got a little boost when it entered into a co-op agreement with Coronado High School.
“We’re expecting somewhere around 15 kids to come and help us,” said coach Dusty Giles. “… Every kid I’ve talked to is real excited. One had a little experience out of YAFL.
“But in football, you can get away with that. It may take a little time to get those guys incorporated into everything we do, but those kids are a lot like our kids. They’re not big, but they’re so tough and so scrappy. They have the same mentality to our kids. I think they’re going to be a great addition to our football program.”
While the Coronado players may not come with great experience, they will bring enthusiasm and a willingness to work that will fit in with the Lobos.
“Our kids are always looking for a way to get better and we’re adding more kids, so they’re all for that,” Giles said. “Our kids have always known they have to work for their spots. You have to earn everything you get. Adding extra guys is going to make everyone work harder. The goal is try to compete for that championship and if we can get something else to help, I think we’re all for it.”
The Lobos are coming off a season of reaching the championship game before falling to a powerhouse Fort Sumner team 55-7.
Escalante returns a number of key players from that squad, including Esteban Archuleta (5 foot, 10 inches, 165 pounds, Sr., QB) and Anthony Ulibarri (5-9, 185, Sr., RB).
Ulibarri ran for 708 yards and 11 touchdowns, and Archuleta threw for 557 yards and eight TDs.
Giles also is hoping for big things from Dante Salazar (5-8, 190, So., WR), who will give the Lobos some serious speed on the outside after finishing sixth in the 100-meter dash as a freshman. In addition to the speed, Giles said, Salazar is the team’s strongest player, so he will cause matchup issues for many opposing defensive backs.
“I feel real confident in our skill positions coming back, and the ones that are now are ready to step in and get things done,” Giles said. “So to me that’s not going to be our major concern this year, on the offensive end or those guys in the secondary. Those guys are all pretty solid.”
Where the coach has his concerns is up front, where four-fifths of the offensive line graduated.
“It’s going to be the youngest offensive line I’ve ever had,” Giles said. “They’re very talented, but it looks like they’re going to be young and that’s kind of a question mark. We’re going to be very competitive but, where we go, that’s going to be determined by the offensive line.”
Randy Ferrell (5-9, 175, Sr., OL) is the only returner and will try to be the veteran presence in a mix of youngsters.
“It’s going to come down to that offensive line and how fast we can develop them,” Giles said. “… There’s something between that sophomore year and the junior year in boys where they go from boyhood to more on the young man side. Physically, they’re very talented. They’re going to turn into a great offensive line. But we’re looking at upwards of three sophomores that will be in that position.”
The Lobos have a couple of tough early games before settling into a district that may not pose much of challenge, so the plan is to bring the line together as quickly as possible.
“It’s different with lineman because they’re a unit,” Giles said. “When one of them falls, they all look bad.”