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SANTA FE, N.M. — With one ugly streak safely ended last year, the Santa Fe High School football team is looking to make big strides this season.
The Demons put to rest a 35-game losing streak, added another win and were competitive in several other games in coach Andrew Martinez’ second season.
And there’s some excitement building around the program as there are as many as 70 players regularly coming out for summer workouts.
Those are almost unheard-of numbers for the Demons.
“Part of it is, we were an incredibly young football team last year. We lost five seniors overall,” Martinez said. “We had a bunch of young underclassmen. And the freshman class started to show up. We’re getting mid to high 20s. Then we picked up a few along the way in the other classes. It’s a more positive, inviting environment. Kids want to go out and play.”
Finally putting a W on the scoreboard has helped fuel the numbers surge, as has the attitude surrounding the team.
“That was big,” he said of the Demons’ first win in more than three seasons. “That was the goal. I wish we had won a couple more games, and we had the opportunity. We were competitive in a lot more games, and that definitely helped. And the way we approach everything, creating a family environment. That’s the biggest thing that was missing, having that type of environment. We count on each other, parents’ involvement, community involvement. That helps out, as well.”
And now that the team has gained the taste of winning, Martinez said he can see much bigger things on the horizon, perhaps even making a run in District 2/6-5A.
“That is our goal, to compete for a district championship,” he said. “We didn’t win a (district) game last year, so that’s our goal. We’d love to win three of those games. But if we can win two, and be right there and be neck and neck, I think we have a good shot of doing that.”
Being a year older, especially after having a significant number of freshman forced into starting roles, Martinez is looking forward to the season’s start.
Chief among 2018’s freshmen starters, quarterback Luc Jaramillo (5 foot, 9 inches, 165 pounds) is loaded with promise as a sophomore.
“He’s a talented young man,” Martinez said. “He can run and pass. He’s a smart football player, which is really the best thing about him. He understands football and has been around it a long time.”
The backfield will feature two tailbacks and two fullbacks, all of whom saw significant time last season, led by the leading returning rusher, sophomore Elijah Martinez (5-9, 180).
Fellow sophomore Martell Mora (5-10, 170) also will see plenty of reps at tailback, while junior Matthew Maestas (5-10, 185) and junior Nico Martinez (5-9, 175) will split time at fullback.
“All of those guys got a lot of playing time last year and they’re all competing for time this year,” coach Martinez said. “They know they’re going to be playing a lot. They’re going to get their reps. They all bring something different to the table. Power, speed, elusiveness.”
And the Demons have a huge, multi-purpose weapon in senior tight end Trent Jones (6-2½, 225), who the coach said has the potential to play in college.
“He’s our team leader,” Martinez said. “He can run, he can block and he can catch. We move Trent around in the backfield a little bit and on the line of scrimmage.”
The offensive line is pretty well set, with senior Andres Rodriguez (5-11, 230), sophomore all-district honoree Ben White (6-3, 260), first-team all-district Jacob Morales (5-8, 200) and Aron Chavez (6-5, 280).
Sophomore all-district Cameron Romero (5-9, 190) “is the leader of our defense,” Martinez said.
It all points to an improved season as the Demons continue their rebuild.
“I’m hoping we make that next big step and shock some people along the way,” he said with a chuckle.