SANTA FE, N.M. — Second-year coach is confident basketball town can be won over
ESPAÑOLA – Miguel Medina is convinced Española isn’t just a basketball town.
Now if he can only convince everyone else.
But since taking the helm of the Española Valley football program last year, Medina’s crusade in changing the attitude of a student body apathetic toward his love appears to be working.
“Last year, we were just trying to put together a team,” Medina said. “When I got here I had eight players. My big thing was recruiting.”
By the start of training camp, roughly 54 players, including freshmen, donned Española Valley red and gold at two-a-days. And Medina believes that this is just the beginning.
“The first thing we did last year was get the junior high involved,” he said. “They came up here and practiced with us – we split the field in half. … I wanted to make sure the eighth-graders coming up knew me. We also had a huge freshmen class last year, and I made sure they knew me, recruiting in the hallways.
“… We sold the program and even (Sundevils basketball coach) Richard Martinez is letting me have some of his players.”
One of those players is Marcos Flores. The sophomore quarterback will be called upon to lead the offense in only his first season starting on varsity.
“We had a senior, Joe Trujillo, who was going to be our quarterback but had some personal issues … and quit the team. So this kid, Marcos, stepped up – and he is an athlete. Fearless,” Medina said. “… We went to some passing camps this summer and did real well. In Bernalillo we made it to the playoff round – we even beat Los Alamos.”
In an effort to provide balance on offense, the Sundevil ground game will again be led by Lucas Bustos, who, as a junior, rushed for nearly 1,000 yards. And this year, while Medina expects Bustos to continue to be a major part of the offense, he won’t have to do it alone.
“We weren’t able to do a whole lot last year because we didn’t have the numbers,” Medina said. “This year, we have the numbers. We have back-ups. We should be more competitive.”
As for the team’s season prognosis? While Medina said his Sundevils may still be a few years away from contending for a district crown, he said first things first – and that’s making history.
“We have the same schedule as last year. We win six games, we break a school record – that’s totally achievable,” he said. “… We may have been losers in the past, but we are starting to think like winners.”
And once the winning begins, he added, Española’s days as a one-sport town are over.
“We’re a basketball town because we’ve been winning in basketball,” he said. “Just look around at all the Raiders fans, Broncos fans, Cowboys fans. People around here love football.
“… And once we start winning, they’ll come around too.”