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Trouble on the way

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

If there was a theme song for Capital’s football team heading into the 2020 season, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising,” might just fit the, um, bill.

Jaguars coach Bill Moon has himself a squad that in time just might be looked upon as the school’s best.

Capital High School’s Luke Padilla, center, Geo Muñoz, right, and other members of the Jaguar football team go through drills at a practice last week at Nina Otero Community School. ( Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

“The kids are being more than great,” Moon said as the players do modified, no-contact workouts without weights. “Either it’s because we have a very strong leadership group or they just realize that they can have a good team and they’re hungry and they want the whole steak and don’t want to share it. It’s a special group of kids and they’re preparing in a special way.”

The players and coaches are spread across campuses in southern Santa Fe “and we’re working out two hours every day,” Moon said. “We have 25 of our varsity kids at one school and 25 at another school. We have our freshman at another school at 10 a.m. and more at noon.”

Because coaches must stay with their own groups, Moon has only seen maybe a quarter of the players so far.

But he already knows what he’s got coming back as he lost just two starting positions from offense and two from defense.

And that leaves expectations soaring.

“If you’re not intending to win the big blue trophy before the season starts, don’t even start,” Moon said. “If excellence is not your goal in life, stay in bed. With the players and the coaching staff this year, I intend to win the state championship. Somehow and some way. By the grace of God and the staff and the players.”

The Jaguars have perhaps the best running back in the state in Luke Padilla.

A shifty handful, Padilla (5-foot, 11-inches, 190-pounds, Sr.) is already the school’s career rushing leader. He finished last year with 1,852 yards and 23 touchdowns.

“He’s the kid everybody wants to talk about and his picture is hanging in every post office in northern New Mexico,” Moon said. “He can smell space. He can run between the teeth in your comb. They (the offensive line) don’t have to make much space for him. And he hits it and he has that other gear.”

Padilla also has a lot going for him up front with a veteran line used to creating just enough daylight for Padilla squeeze through.

Andres Alvarado (OL/DL, 5-11, 190, Sr.); Jonathan Castaneda (OL/DL, 5-9, 215, Sr.) Miguel Valencia (OL/DL, 5-6, 215, Sr.,) James Veleta (OL/DL, 5-10, 210, Jr.) are the mainstays who are back on the line and opening the holes.

Under center, seniors Dion Martinez (5-11, 170) and Manuel Vargas (6-0, 170) will be battling for the quarterback job for a third straight season.

Defensively, Geo Muñoz (LB/DB 5-11, 180) sets the tone for the rest of the squad.

Muñoz is Padilla’s backup on offense who could start at running back on most teams in the state. “Where he really helps us is as a hybrid defensive player,” Moon said. “He can play in the box as a linebacker or in open space as a safety. He’s that good of an athlete. Geo has no fear of doing that.”

It all adds up to a team that last season reached the state playoffs for the second time in three years and is determined to not only make it back again this season, but make some noise in the playoffs.

“If there was no coronavirus, I’m excited as hell,” Moon said. “It’s a once in every 10 years’ team and I have a once in every 10 years’ staff. I have my whole staff back. The team is extremely experienced and I have experienced coaches.”

As a matter of fact, the Jaguars had trouble finding non-district opponents to face this season as most of their usual regional foes shied away.

There’s one unscheduled opponent, however, that could do it all in.

“Coronavirus. That’s the only opponent that can harm us,” Moon said. “Teams can beat us, sure. That’s the excitement of playing Friday nights. But the only team that can beat us is this virus. That’s not a fight we can get into.”