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Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Junior quarterback Lucas Coriz put up big numbers for St. Michael’s last season. (Courtesy of Shannon Steven Aragon)

With May already a third gone, that means there are just three weeks remaining before the start of June and the unofficial kickoff of high school football summer programs.

It is the crucial time of year when coaches gauge their squads’ dedication and commitment. It’s when new systems are implemented and the playbook is cemented in players’ minds.

Well, the coronavirus has effectively squashed much of that, leaving coaches looking for the best way to prepare for the start of the season – if there is even to be one.

“I have a billion ideas,” Santa Fe coach Andrew Martinez said. “We just have to wait and see how it’s all going to play out once we get a mandate of what we can and cannot do.”

Right now, it certainly appears as if summer practice will be set back as social distancing is likely to continue into the foreseeable future.

So, Martinez said he plans to further strengthen his virtual ties with the team.

“It could be we have to get either creative or real simple,” he said. “I prefer the simpler, but it would be nice to get out and see the guys face to face, and get them working in the weight room and on the field.”

Nevertheless, the Demons have already been getting virtual guidance.

“They have daily workouts they get and that they do,” Martinez said. “We track them by an app, so we know who’s doing the workouts. Kids want anything to do, so we really haven’t had a problem with that kind of participation.”

Not everyone has a set of weights at home, however, so this time period has been one of innovation and creativity, he said.

“We’re using modified workouts,” Martinez said. “If you have a log, use the log. If you have brick, use a brick. They get creative, which is cool.”

But ingraining the plays is a harder aspect of the training protocol.

“That’s the more difficult part of it,” he said. “We have a platform that we have our playbook on, and they can go through it and read it and study it. They can send questions into their position coach.”

For Capital coach Bill Moon, the plays are kind of the least of his concerns as he returns all but two starters for what could be on paper the best Jaguars’ squad he’s had.

“I have the greatest kids,” he said. “We see all their videos and my team, I’m elated. My team is making the future look great. It’s no wonder that this may be one of the best teams that I’ve ever coached mostly because of what they’re doing right now, with no guarantee of anything in the future.”

The big thing Moon said he’s tried to stress with his assistant coaches is to be there for the players in these crazy times.

“Football is about teaching leadership and character,” he said. “If we’re not doing that right now as coaches, we’re failures. If we never play another football game and if we don’t teach character, the tragedy will not be the loss of the season. The tragedy is that we failed them when most necessary.”

Still, coming off a playoff appearance and sporting one of the state’s top running backs in Luke Padilla, Moon would very much like to get on the field this season.

“I figure we need a good three weeks of practice before we can play,” he said. “So, if we get on the field by July 1, we should be able to make the season opener. If it gets later than that, then you’re looking at losing the first game or having it pushed back. If we start Aug. 1, then we’ll probably be able to get in a couple of the pre-district games.”

St. Michael’s coach Joey Fernandez is looking for a solid month of training before hitting the field for games that count.

“If the kids are doing what we’re asking of them, usually we can get away with a month of getting together as a team,” he said. “We’d be able to do conditioning and agility drills, and start getting down to the Xs and Os.”

The important thing at this stage is to stay in contact with the players, Fernandez said.

“When this all started, they were starting to get into our spring workouts in the weight room and for the track season,” he said. “Now, they’re just doing what they can and it’s hard to do without weights. That’s one of the things we’re doing is sending them a lot of stuff to get them motivated to do their workouts. Some of them really need their coach around to be pushing them and getting things done. We want to make sure our kids are able to get through their workouts, but it’s tough to see what they’ve done.”