SANTA FE, N.M. — St. Michael’s is one of those football programs that just seems to reload every season.
Well, this season there are an awful lot of empty shells that need refilling as the Horsemen graduated a whole of mess of talent, especially when it comes to offensive firepower.
The quarterback, the top four ground gainers and the top three receivers are all gone.
“We graduated some good kids,” said coach Joey Fernandez, who will be coaching his 200th game in the season opener against Taos. “That’s always tough to do. But I think we’ve got a pretty good set of skill position kids that we can throw in when needed.”
The exodus leaves players like Alejandro Talamantes (5 foot, 10 inches, 185 pounds, Sr., TE/RB/LB) as the leading offensive threat returning to the team.
Luke Kaestendieck (6-0, 160, Sr., WR/DB), Hayden Lee (6-0, 155, Sr., WR/DB) and Jake Tupler (6-4, 175, Sr., TE) also will be expected to step into the void.
“They have pretty good speed on the outside,” Fernandez said. “We’re going to be looking to getting those three the ball outside and in open space.”
Derek Roybal (5-10, 180, Jr., RB) will be joining Talamantes in the backfield.
They “both got a lot carries last year, so we’re looking for big things from them, as well,” Fernandez said.
Defensively, the Horsemen should particularly shine as many of the mentioned players also saw significant action on that side.
Add in beefy players like Tayo Regenold (6-2, 280, Sr., DL/OL) and Adrian Balderamos (5-11, 255, Sr., DL/OL), and the Horsemen will be tough.
“Defensively, that’s where we’re a little more solid,” Fernandez said. “The defensive front four, we’ve got some size up there. Tayo Regenold and Adrian Balderamos are big boys that can move pretty well.”
Dominic Morgan (5-11, 175, Sr., LB/QB) will join Talamantes at linebacker if he doesn’t win the quarterback position, which is perhaps the biggest question mark for St. Mike’s at this point.
Morgan is battling Lucas Coriz (6-1, 170, Fr., QB) as signal caller.
“Both of them are doing real well right now,” Fernandez said. “They just need to get some confidence. Neither has seen a team on other side of the ball yet.”
Fernandez is entering his 16th season at the helm of his alma mater and has taken five teams to the championship, winning three. But the Horsemen have not made it there since 2012, so there’s definitely a hunger situation going on.
And St. Mike’s does not face an easy task as Robertson is another team that reloads every year, while West Las Vegas has been quickly building a winning program and will be quite a handful this season, as well.
“Our expectations are always the same, we want to win the state championship,” Fernandez said. “We want to put ourselves in the position with our pre-district and our district to be playing our best football when the playoffs start. Then we’ll see what happens. As long as we can stay healthy, I think we can give it a go toward the state championship.”