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Prep football: Academy at a glance

Coach: Shaun Gehres (1st year)
Last season: 1-9
Returning starters: 6 offense, 6 defense
Key players: Aarya Patel, sr. (5-9, 155, RB/LB); Stevie David, sr. (5-9, 145, QB/FS); Dominic Carrillo, sr. (5-8, 140, RB/OLB); Pete McIntosh, sr. (5-9, 215, C/NG); Tanner Whitaker, soph. (5-8, 195, G/LB); Josue Flores, sr. (5-9, 160, RB/LB); Jonathan Davis, soph. (6-1, 240, G/NG); Clark Hager, soph. (6-2, 215, OT/DE).

Aarya Patel

Outlook: For the first time since the late 1980s, the Chargers open a season with a new head coach. Gehres actually has been coaching at the Academy for many years in other sports, so he is familiar with the students on campus, which he partially attributes as the reason the school has been able to attract an increased number of athletes to the football program (nearly 40; the Chargers finished last year in the teens). So as Academy starts over and Gehres implements a new culture, the next step is to see how the on-field product changes. David and possibly an underclassman may share QB duties, but that’s still up in the air. Either way, Gehres wouldn’t mind forcing teams to prepare for multiple quarterbacks. Patel (primarily) and Carrillo should handle the ball-carrying duties, and this team has a couple of big — but young — receivers. Whitaker, Patel and Carrillo also will be crucial on the defensive side for Academy. Gehres said the increase in numbers means Academy should be able to rejoin a district starting in 2020, adding that the Chargers have a good crop of sophomores and freshmen in the program. With this schedule, Academy has a terrific chance to win a few games this fall.
2019 schedule (independent)
Aug. 23, at Tohatchi, 7 p.m.
Aug. 31, Tucumcari, noon
Sept. 6, at Bernalillo, 7 p.m.
Sept. 14, Thoreau, 2 p.m.
Sept. 21, Clayton, 2 p.m.
Sept. 28, Escalante, noon
Oct. 4, at Hot Springs, 7 p.m.
Oct. 10, at Socorro, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 19, Shiprock, 2 p.m.
Nov. 1, at Montezuma-Cortez, Colo., TBA
Circle the date: Week 2’s matchup with Tucumcari marks Gehres’ home debut with the Chargers, which automatically makes that a special day for him and the team. The Rattlers won handily in Tucumcari last year, and Academy surely wants to demonstrate early on that this season will be different.

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